Kombat Champion

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Kombat Champion
Part 1 of 16
By Morpheus

I stopped at the door to my apartement and let out a yawn, then fumbled with my keys for a moment before opening the door. And the moment that I stepped inside, I called out, "Honey, I'm home...," just as I did nearly every day when returning home from work. However, there was no answer...nor had I expected one since I lived alone.

After another yawn, I stepped inside, immediately feeling a little recharged. Spending all day at work selling computers and dealing with clueless customers could really drain your energy, but for some reason all it took to get it back was to get home.

"Home sweet home," I muttered, hanging my coat on the hook by the door and catching sight of myself in the mirror that hung somewhat askew on the wall.

The face that stared back from the mirror was of course familiar, being the very same face that I saw every time that I looked in the mirror. It was the face of Craig Belmont, a 6 foot 1, 24 year old computer salesman who worked in a nearby electronics store. I had dark hair that could have used a bit of a cut, and a goatee which covered my chin.

"A real ladies man," I grinned at the reflection, though it had definitely been awhile since I'd been out on a date.

Since I sold computers for a living, some people might assume that I was a geek. But a friend of mine had once told me that a geek was someone who had no hobbies that did not somehow involve electronics. Then again, I guess that using that definition, I was a geek

With that, I looked around the apartment which was my sanctuary from the world as well as a convenient storage place for all of the electronic gizmos that my paychecks had gone into buying. I loved watching movies, which was evidenced by the 56 inch plasma screen TV that sat against one wall, attatched to a great surround sound system. In fact, my neighbors thought that my sound system was too good as they complained just about every time I tried to listen to movies the way that they were meant to be listened to...with the sound effects blaring.

However, as much as I loved watching movies, I loved playing video games even more since they were interactive. In fact, I currently had four different game systems, though two of them were almost obsolete. And I also played a lot of games on my computer...which was of course a great system. Being a computer saleman, I couldn't very well have anything that was not up to par.

Lately though, I'd really been caught up in a new little known online came called Kombat Champions. It was a wicked game, sort of like Everquest or City of Heroes, but dealing with martial arts instead of fantasy or super heroes. In fact, it was a bit like an online version of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter.

Kombat Champions is a great fighting game, where each player is a martial artist and where you can have wicked martial arts fights, like in Mortal Kombat and Street fighter, with the other players online. You can go from village to village, challenging people to fight right on the streets or even go and enter tournaments. And there are a lot of tournaments, some with special rules...such as Black Tournaments...which were basically the games version of a fight to the death. But not too many people enter those as there aren't a lot of people willing to risk their charachter actually being deleted from the game on the results of a single fight.

But what I think is one of the coolest thing about the game is just how much control you have over creating and customizing your charachter. You can not only create a detailed and individual appearance and clothing for your charachter, but choose their fighting styles, weapons and even their special moves.

When you are done designing your charachter's appearance, you can choose their name and title...though you don't have to add a title. A lot of people do though, calling themselves things like Luke the Strong, Coleen the Fast Sword or Danny of the Iron Fist. But of course, those are mostly cosmetic and style type things.

One of the most important things about making your charachter is choosing which school of martial arts they're from. There are nine schools which you can choose from, each one giving the basic set of abilities that you start the game with as well as setting what kind of abilities and special moves your charachter can learn in the future. Each of these schools has it's own set of specilizations and benefits.

A couple of the most popular schools are the theme schools... One of these schools lets you design charachters with animal themes...such as cat...wolf and whatever. You can even get certain animal abilities. And there's also an elemental theme school...such as if you want a charachter based off of elements like fire, water, electricity or ice...like Subzero of the Mortal Kombat games. The ice theme is fairly popular...and there's even one guy I've run across a couple times who dresses his charachter in yellow and customized the settings so that all all of his ice attacks come out as yellow too. The smartass calls himself Pi...the Yellow Snow. But there are of course other schools as well, each with their own specialties.

Another important part of designing your charachter is the points assignment. You start off with so many points that you can assign to various charachter attributes such as strength, speed, agility and the like...which are also largely determined by the body type of your charachter and which school you selected for them. But you also get a bunch of other points to assign to your abilities...which determine how skilled and powerful your charachter is and consists of your hand to hand fighting ability, your weapon fighting ability and your chi abilility.

Your chi level is your ability to do the super power type things that you see martial artists do in various anime, movies and video games, such as creating force fields around yourself and shooting energy blasts from your hands. This is what lets you do all of the really cool special moves in the game.

Then once you're done making your charachter, you can play the game, running around fighting other players and building up your experience points. Of course, the game also has ways of increasing your abilities and making your charachter more powerful. You can go to various schools, training grounds and hidden hermits for 'training' which will increase your abilities and power levels, giving you more points for things like strength and agility, or for weapons and chi skills. And you can even learn completely new fighting moves, techniques and special attacks...as long as they're compatible with your charachter's school and levels. However, a lot of these spots in the game require you to have a certain number of experience points first.

And then there is perhaps the coolest part of Kombat Champions. As you play the game, you keep building up your charachter's experience points, abilities and moves, which makes your charachter a better fighter so that you can fight and beat tougher opponents. And when you finally reach a high enough level, you get to design a signature move.

A signature move is a unique technique, usually a chi move which you design specifically for your charachter. You have to go through a few menus to find similar moves and graphics which can be adapted for it, and even write a good description of what the move is and what it does, then send all that in to the guys who made the game. They take a look at it all, judge whether that move is compatible with the game, your charachter level and your school...then deny it, or program it into the system for your charachter to use.

All this usually takes only 24 hours, and they often give a signature move which has been altered slightly from what you originally requested in order to make it more appropriate for the game. Basically, they don't want the signature moves to be too powerful or unbalanced...so you can't get a move that lets you just snap your finger to automatically defeat an opponent.

I guess that one of the main reasons you can't start out with your signature move is that it takes personal attention from the people behind the game and that they don't want to waste their time customizing charachters that will only be played a few times and then be abandonned. They probably want to make sure that a player had proven that they take the game fairly seriously and that they'll probably be around for while. And of course, it could just be that they use it as a lure to encourage people to keep playing the game...though personally, I kind of think that a signature move is a reward for serious play and something that needs to be earned.

There is also one more cool way for your charachter to 'learn' new moves, which is by going to a Sensei. These are player charachters who have gotten to a high enough level that they're able to 'teach' some of their moves and attacks to other charachters, as long as that other charachter has a school and ability levels which are compatible with that technique. Some of the players who get their charachters built up this high consider it something of a bragging right to become a Sensei and 'teach' their signature moves to one or two students, while a lot of others guard their signature moves jealously. However, because of this and the fact that there are so few player charachters who have built up to that level, it make this a very difficult way of learning new moves and techniques.

Finally, I turned on my computer and waited for the game to load up, smiling in anticipation. I was definitely addicted to the game and had been playing it for about two hours a day since I first signed on about six months earlier.

After a few minutes, the game finished loading and a flash of purple lightning flashed across the screen, followed by the game logo and a picture of an old man with a long white beard and red robes. This was the Kombat Master, the only main non-player charachter in the game. Basically, he was just the referee in all of the fighting arenas, and sort of the spokesman for the people who run the game whenever they want to give a message to the players.

The game's slogan, "BECOME A CHAMPION" flared across the screen, just as it did every time the game loaded up.

I quickly typed in my name and password, then sat back and waited for my charachter profile to come up. Then I smiled, thinking about how far I had come since I had first started playing the game.

When I had first started playing Kombat Champions six months earlier, my first charachter had been a brute...which was a game term for a charachter that is highly focused on physical strength and power...to the neglect of other traits. I had thought that being such a big strong charachter, he could beat anyone...though I quickly learned otherwise. Several opponents beat him using various chi techniques, and then he ended up getting killed off when I entered my first and only Black Tournament.

After my first charachter had been killed off, I came up with a new charachter that didn't have the weaknesses of my first...though I overcompensated. My second charachter was a mage, which was gamespeak for a charachter that was heavily focused on chi power and abilities...to the neglect of just about all else. And like my first charachter, he got beat quite a few times until I ended up deleting him.

It was then that I created my next charachter, the one that I am still playing. When I had first started creating her, I had expected her to be something of a throwaway charachter...one that I could experiment with for a little but that I expected to either get killed off in a black tournament or that I would quickly get bored of. However, I never expected her to work nearly as well as she did or that I would end up getting pretty attatched to her.

With that, I stared at my computer monitor which had my charachter's profile on it, including a picture of her that covered half the screen. She was a very pretty young woman with blue hair that was pulled back into a long pony tail. And for her clothes, I had given her a purple outfit that had touches of white and blue in the trim.

"Kestra the Jagged Wind," I said her name aloud. I did rather like that name, especially the title that I had given her a month or so earlier. Unlike a charachter's names, their titles could be deleted or changed at any time.

When I had first started creating Kestra, I had mostly just wanted to do something different than with my first two charachters, which was why I had chosen to create a female charachter. Of course there was also the fact that I wasn't expecting to actually be playing with her for long.

However, after designing Kestra's initial appearance, I couldn't help getting more serious with the rest of the charachter profile information. I wanted a charachter that was more balanced than either of my first two, and had been very careful to make sure that she was. In fact, I even made it so that a lot of her abilities complimented each other to make her even more efficient.

To start with, I had made Kestra part of the martial arts school that a lot of the ninja type charachters came from. That school gave bonus points to a charachter's speed, agility and precision levels, which was perfect as I made Kestra to be an all around great fighter who relied a lot on speed and agility.

You can add weapons to a charachter's arsenal of fighting abilities, and I was amazed at just how many the game had to choose from. The top weapons menu had swords, daggers, spears, morning stars and a number of other options. When you selected a basic weapon type, it would take you to another menu. If you chose swords, you would find a menu that was just different types of swords. There were one hand broadswards, two handed broadswords, rapiers, katanas and others. And then, once you selected one of those types, it would bring up a bunch of options that you could choose a specific sword of that type from. It was all very cool, and there were so many choices that I had a hard time deciding on what weapons I should give Kestra.

Of course, you didn't just get all the weapons you wanted for free. You start out with a certain amount of points that you could sort of spend to buy abilities with specific weapons. And since the school that I had chosen gave bonus points for small hand held throwing weapons such as shuriken, throwing darts and throwing knives, which acted as a sort of coupon for those particular type of weapons, I got to add throwing knives to my list of assets for almost free.

Then I wanted to choose a primary weapon for her, and since swords were the most common weapon in the game, I wanted something a bit different. I spent a lot of time going through everything that was available and figuring out exactly what I wanted. Eventually, I settled on the katar...or actually a pair of them.

A katar is also known as a thrust dagger... You hold the katar in your hand like you would brass knuckles, and a sharp blade about the size of a long dagger sticks out the front. It doesn't have the range of a sword, but it does have a number of other things going for it. For one, it works very well with fast, close combat attacks...which was perfect for Kestra. And for another, the katar is very simple to use...which made it very cheap to buy as far as the points went.

All that you have to do to use a katar is punch and slash, similar to how you might in hand to hand combat, and it just adds a little lethal edge to it. The game even takes this into account, so that the higher your hand to hand combat abilities are...if they're of the right sort, the higher your katar fighting abilities are. I really liked that idea since when I worked to improve Kestra's fighting abilities in hand to hand combat, it automatically improved her katar fighting abilities as well.

But the throwing knives and two katars I used, one for each hand, weren't the only weapons that Kestra had. After I'd started playing the charachter, I spent quite a bit of time going to various training grounds and the like to build up all of her points and abilities, as well as gaining a whole bunch of new moves and techniques. And one of the things that I'd gained during this training was a spear.

I liked the spear as it was a pretty versatile backup weapon. It could be used offensively or defensively. It would give Kestra a bit more range in a fight than her katars...when I needed it. And of course, it could be thrown to get someone at a short distance with a bit more force and damage than the throwing knives could do. It wasn't a main weapon that I usually used in fights, but it was a nice addition.

And then of course, Kestra had all of her chi moves and techniques as well. She hadn't been a slouch in that department when I'd first created her, but she had gotten more powerful and had gained some interesting new moves thanks to all of the time I had her in various training locations.

One of Kestra's chi techniques was called 'channel', which was the most common chi technique used in the game. This let a person channel their chi energy into their weapons...making their weapons more powerful for a time. Just about everyone who had a weapon used 'channel'.

Then there was 'augment', a technique similar to 'channel' except that it temporarily augmented a charachter's physical abilities...basically making them a little stronger and faster for a short spurt. It was a useful ability to use in a fight.

Kestra even had a special move where she could shoot energy blasts...as a lot of higher level charachters did. However, I had been trying to save on points so that I could use them to augment her other abilities, and I was trying to make sure her abilities complimented each other, so I chose the option of making it so that she could only fire her blasts by channeling them through her katars. It was a big limitation, but well worth it as it allowed me to improve her abilities in other ways.

But one move that Kestra had which I was especially pleased with was one that was called 'reflection'. This was one that I'd learned from a Sensei...having talked him into 'teaching' Kestra his signature move when I found out that he was going to quit playing the game. As far as I knew, Kestra was only one of three charachters that he'd shared that move with, and one of those others had stopped playing. Basically, 'reflection' was a sort of force field which stopped any direct chi attacks...energy blasts and the like, and sent them right back to their source.

Finally, there was Kestra's signature move...which I called 'second wind'. Unlike most signature moves which usually seemed to consist of powerful energy attacks of some sort and were designed to do serious damage to the opponent, second wind was much more passive. In fact, I didn't even use second wind on my opponent. Second wind was a move that I usually used when Kestra was low on energy and about to be knocked out of a fight.

When I activated second wind during a fight, Kestra's chi energy level bar would immediately drop to zero...no matter how full and charged it was before this. And at the same time, her health energy bar would immediately go back to full...even if it had been nearly empty. Then, if there had been a large enough amount of chi energy in that bar before activating this ability, Kestra would also get an effect sort of like 'augment', where her physical levels would get a temporary increase.

I had won more than a few games thanks to a strategic use of second wind. When I got close to losing, all I had to do was use second wind...if I had enough chi to activate it, and I would be fully charged and ready to go, while my opponent's health bar would probably be somewhat less than full. Having Kestra come back from the edge of defeat to suddenly being at full health was a great trick, and really surprised most of my opponents. The only downside with this was that once I used second wind, my chi bar was empty and I couldn't use any other chi techniques for the rest of the fight.

However, at the moment it wasn't time to think about the rules of the game or about how I'd created my charachter. I looked at Kestra's profile on my screen and smiled. At the moment, it was time to play.

I clicked the enter button and a moment later, I was in the game and ready to play. Almost as soon as Kestra was on the street in one of the villages, another player challenged me to a fight. Unfortunately, one good look at the charachter revealed that he was probably a brute...and therefor a rookie since usually only beginners to the game played brutes. I was about to turn him down but decided that it might make for a fun warm-up.

"I hope he doesn't mind being beaten up by a girl," I grinned, accepting the fight.

As soon as I had accepted the fight, our charachters shifted to a different screen so that we could fight. I grinned and had Kestra launch into an immediate attack. My opponent threw a couple punchs, which I knew would do a bit of damage to my health points if they connected. However, brutes were all about physical strength and power, not about speed. The fight was over pretty quickly, and when I finished my opponent I hadn't even taken any damage at all to my health points.

"Now to find some real opponents," I mused, knowing that you didn't get any experience points for beating charachters who had power levels that were a lot lower than your own.

A minute later, I was in one of the arenas that I usually went to. A lot of other player charachters were gathered around, and for the most part it was something of a chat room where you could talk to the other players.

At first, I just sat back and scanned the screen to see what other charachters were there and if there were any of them whom I recognized. There was one guy called Kuno the Blue Thunder, who was obviously a swordsman type of fighter, a red haired girl called Ranma Chan, a guy called Goku23, Vegita the Super Saiyan and about a half dozen others. A lot of players liked basing their charachters off of their favorite charachters from various anime and video games.

However, there was one player charachter that I immediately recognized. She was a tall charachter with long green hair and with loose flowing clothes that were green and purple. "Vypra," I said aloud, grinning as I saw that she was logged on.

Vypra...or at least her player and I were online friends, and we even both lived in the same city, though we'd never met in real life...at least not that I know of. After all, it would be kind of emberassing since I was a guy playing a female charachter. On the other hand, I was also kind of afraid that 'she' might actually turn out to be a guy playing a female charachter as well. So, when we were online, we talked a bit...just not about our lives outside of the game.

After we talked for a minute, I challenged Vypra to a fight. And just a moment later, our charachters were shifted off to a screen with just the two of them so that we could have our fight. I grinned in anticipation.

To start the fight off, Vypra immediately charged up her battle aura...a sign that she was going to use one of her chi attacks. The aura showed up on the screen as a ghostly image of a snake. Vypra was from the animal themed school and being able to use animal shaped battle auras was one of the benefits of that school.

Then Vypra pulled out the two katanas which were her primary weapons and suddenly leaped all the way across the screen. A ghostly image of a snake was imposed over her and spread out behind her, with her two katanas being that snake's fangs. I immediately responded by crossing my two katars and using a basic defensive shield. It blocked Vypra's attack, though my health bar menu still dropped back a bit as I took the some of the damage.

I knew from previous experience that once Vypra had used that particular move, it left her completely open for a second or two. And I didn't hesitate to use that opportunity to press my own attack, hitting her with several katar slashes.

Vypra and Kestra jumped back and forth across the screen, each attacking and dodging in turn. Vypra performed one move where several snakes actually seemed to shoot out of her hands, and I had Kestra jump out of the way to avoid it, then send a few throwing knives back in her direction. This all continued for another minute or two.

"Good fight," I grinned to myself, really getting into it. Then again, Vypra never failed to give me a challenge.

It was then that Vypra used her signature move...something which she called the 'snake fist strike'. Her arm glowed green as she charged at Kestra, hitting her with a quick strike. My health points took a bit of a hit, though certainly not a bad one at all. However, I knew from previous fights that this wasn't the purpose of the 'snake fist strike'. The true threat of that attack was that my health point bar would continue to slowly go down. All that Vypra had to do was hit her opponent with that move and then switch to running away and playing defence, and she could eventually beat her opponent without having to actually hit them again.

"Damn," I muttered, knowing that I was going to have to get the fight over with soon.

Of course, when my health bar got too low, I could always pull my 'second wind', though I was sure that Vypra was counting on that. After all, once I did that, I'd be unable to use my chi moves while she could cut loose with hers. So, I decided to surprise her with another move.

I sent a few throwing knives at Vypra, and when she jumped over them like I had expected, Kestra was already in motion, hitting her in mid-air. I even got her with a few more hits before she knocked me back, then charged forward with her swords.

My health bar was getting pretty low and I knew that I was either going to have to use my 'second wind' or finish the fight very quickly. I decided to go with the latter, using 'channel' on my katars and jumping straight at her, hitting with a fast series of hits. It was a little more than Vypra could block so her health bar started to quickly go down. And when the 'channel' effect wore down, I jumped back, sent a barrage of daggers at her and then used the last of my chi energy to fire a burst of energy at her. That last burst did the trick and knocked her health bar down to zero.

"Gotcha," I exclaimed in delight.

"Great fight," Vypra's player typed to me.

I responded with a, "Definitely..."

"I'm afraid that I've got to get going," she told me. "I've got to get offline and get dinner made..."

"Talk to you later," I told her, just before she logged off.

With Vypra gone, I turned my attention to other opponents. After fighting two more opponents, I switched my primary weapon over from katar to spear, just to get more experience points with using that weopon, then went and tried a few more fights. I ended up losing one of those, but you can't win every fight, even if I do try. Eventually though, I shifted back to my katars, beat one more opponent and then left the arena.

"Let's see," I mused to myself, deciding to go to one of the training grounds that would give me the points to improve my endurance levels. My endurance level was already pretty good, but it wouldn't hurt to add a few extra points to it. In fact, constantly improving Kestra's points and levels was one of the things I enjoyed most about the game. "She'll be the toughest bitch around..."

Just then, I heard the rumbling sound of thunder from outside my window. I was a little startled at that since the weather had been fairly clear when I'd come home from work and there hadn't been any sign of a coming storm. And when glanced to the side and looked out my window, I was even more confused because there still didn't seem to be any storm out there.

"Must have been a jet or something," I thought aloud, shrugging it off as I knew that there were a lot of things in a big city that could create loud noises. For all I knew, it could have just been the sound from someone's stereo.

I was just turning my attention back to the game when I heard the sound of rumbling thunder again. My eyes quickly darted back to the window, more out of reflex than for any suspicion that the weather might have suddenly changed.

But as soon as I looked back to the window, I saw a purple flash of light... An instant later, my ears were filled with the rumbling sound of thunder while my body was filled with a burning, surging pain. I screamed...or at least thought I did, though I couldn't be sure as everything went dark a moment later.

Kombat Champion
Part 2 of 16
By Morpheus

I awoke to the sound of a phone ringing... Or at least I regained the first glimpse of awareness, though I remained in that indeterminate place between wakefulness and sleep. And I had no idea how long I was in that state, only that I hard the phone ring yet again some time later.

Eventually, I slowly came out of this state. At first, it was a bit more awareness, followed by my being able to blink my eyes. And then, sensation...real sensation began to return to my body. Finally, I was able to move again. At first, it was only being able to open and close my fingers, or moving my feet around a little. But then, almost as if a switch had been flipped, I could suddenly move everything again.

For a moment, even after I regained the ability to move, I remained where I was on the floor, staring up at the ceiling as I had been doing for who knew how long. I took several deep breaths, feeling scared, nervous and relieved all at the same time. I was definitely relieved that I could move again and that I didn't feel any pain. But I was scared as hell since I had no idea what had just happened to me.

Finally, I took a deep breath and slowly sat up, trying to brace myself in case I suddenly discovered some pain or injury that I had missed so far. But fortunately, I didn't feel any aches or pains at all. Instead, I felt fine. No, I felt better than fine. I felt...fantastic.

I was just about to marvel at how great I felt, when I finally noticed my computer. My eyes went wide as I saw the wreckage that had been my computer. The monitor was completely shattered and blackened, while the tower looked...destroyed. That was the only word that I could think to describe it. The tower looked as though someone had taken a couple of whacks at it with a sledge hammer and then set it on fire.

"Holy shit!" I exclaimed in shock.

Then I remembered the flash of light that I'd seen before everything had happened and looked to the window. The window had been shattered and had a spiderweb of cracks over the entire surface, except for one spot near the middle which had a hole in it about the size of a hand.

"No way!" I blurted out, realizing that I'd been struck by lightning. And from the look of my computer, it had been struck by the lightning too...

I stood there, feeling a bit shaken at the realization. Then I gulped, absently reaching down to pick up the chair that I had been knocked out of and return it to a standing position. However, my eyes remained locked on what was left of my computer, making me realize how lucky I must have been to survive that.

But then, I couldn't help suddenly wondering if I might have been hurt more than I realized. I didn't FEEL hurt, but I sure as hell felt...weird. I'd just been too stunned to really give that much thought until the moment.

With that, I took a deep breath and looked down at myself, gasping in shock and confusion as I did so. My first realization was that I was wearing some sort of violet or purple clothes that I'd never seen before in my life. There were even bits of blue and white trim running through them. However, that was almost immediately followed by the realization that my chest was pushing out a bit more than was proper.

"What the hell?" I gasped, only then realizing that my voice sounded wrong to my years.

I froze for a moment, feeling confused as hell and wondering if that lightning strike had scrambled my brains but good. And trying to prove to myself that I was imagining things, I poked at where my chest pushed out and let out another gasp. That was actually ME pushing out. It was a part of me.

Then I noticed my hand and held it up in front of my face, staring at it in silent disbelief. My hand WASN'T my hand. It was still a hand...just not MY hand. It looked a little smoother, a little more delicate...without any of the hairs which had covered the back of it. My fingers seemed just a little bit longer, perhaps just due to the fact that my nails were now a little longer as well. In fact, my hand looked like a woman's hand.

"This can't be...," I started, then paused, a thought suddenly coming to me. I had no idea where the thought had come from, but I gulped and poked at my chest again. It seemed sort of soft and... And it pushed out on both sides, like two round globes... Like two... "Oh shit..."

I stared down at my body again, this time a little more closely, noticing a few more details...such as the specific shape of my body beneath the clothes. My eyes went wide and my heart started to race. I was imagining things. I knew I was. Nothing else made any form of sense whatsoever. But as my eyes drifted back to my chest, I turned and rushed to the bathroom.

As soon as I reached the bathroom and stared into the mirror, I froze entirely. So intense was the shock of what I saw that I was half afraid that even my heard had stopped.

"Impossible...," I whispered.

Staring back from the mirror was not my reflection, but that of a very attractive young woman. Her ethnicity was somewhat indeterminate, looking mostly caucasion but with hints of something else. Her eyes seemed just a tiny bit too large, with the hint of an Asian slant to the corner of her eyes. And as I stared at the woman in the mirror, she stared back at me with a pair of intense blue eyes.

After a minute, I allowed my attention to turn away from her face and to take in everything else. I could see the strange looking violet or purple clothes that I was wearing in a bit more detail, as well as the white and blue trim. The woman's...my figure was hidden beneath the fairly loose clothes, but I could see enough to know that she...that I had a nice body.

And then my eyes went to the blue hair, which I hadn't been able to help but notice the moment that I'd stared into the mirror. The hair was about to her...my mid-back and tied up in a pony tail with a purple ribbon. My hands reached for the hair, almost of their own accord, giving it a slight tug and proving that it was indeed my own hair...or at least connected to my scalp.

As strange as it was to see a woman staring out of the mirror, it was even stranger to recognize her. But how could I not recognize her when it was the same face and body that I'd been staring at every night when I played Kombat Champion? How could I fail to instantly recognize my own creation?

"I...," I gulped the words in quiet shock, "I've turned into Kestra..."

There was absolutely no denying that the woman staring back at me from the mirror was Kestra, my very own video game charachter. I'd played her far too often not to know her in detail. However, that didn't explain how I could possibly look like a charachter out of a video game, whether it was one that I'd designed myself or not.

"The lightning," I whispered, my female voice shaking.

My mind raced as I thought about it, realizing that there were two options. The first was that it was all in my mind...that I was delusion, hallucinating the entire experience. Perhaps I was even laying comatose in some hospital, recovering from being struck by lightning.

The other option was a little more unlikely...or just plain impossible. The other option was that the entire experience might actually be real...that all of the weirdness might actually be happening. Maybe...just maybe the lightning striking the computer and myself at the same time had somehow caused me to become what was on my computer at that moment... Perhaps, the lightning really had somehow tranasformed me into a real life video game charachter.

"Impossible," I shook my head, feeling my hair brushing my shoulders.

Even if this was some sort of dream or hallucination, it was without a doubt the most detailed and realistic one that I'd ever had. Hell, everything felt so real... And honestly, I didn't think that my imagination was up to the task of coming up with something quite that detailed or original.

I know that this kind of thing just wasn't possible... It was against the laws of physics, the laws of reality and just about every other damn law that I knew of. People didn't just transform into video game charachters...or girls just by being struck by lighting. It didn't happen. It was impossible. But then, how come everything felt so God damn REAL. As weird...as IMPOSSIBLE as the whole thing was, all of my senses screamed that it was indeed real.

Then, several thoughts drifted through my mind. "If it looks like a duck, feels like a duck and quacks like a duck...then it must be a duck." And to paraphrase Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "If you remove the possible, then whatever remains, no matter how improbable...or even impossible, must therefore be the truth." I was sure that he hadn't said it in quite those words, but that was the general gist.

"Okay," I took a deep breath, deciding for the moment to treat this as though it were real. After all, if I was in some sort of coma it couldn't really hurt anything.

I closed my eyes and took several more deep breaths to calm myself, and at least try to get some kind of grip on reality. Then I gave myself one more look in the mirror, more than half hoping that it would be my own normal reflection staring back, but kind of doubting that this would be the case. Of course, reflection hadn't changed since the last time I'd looked it just seconds earlier. I still looked like Kestra.

Just then, I suddenly noticed something else. I'd noticed it a little bit already, at least subconciously, though now my concious mind grabbed the realization as well. There were several things on the wall...a chip in the mirror... All of them seemed somewhat higher on the wall than before, just as the sink seemed a bit closer.

"Oh," I whispered as realization dawned. When I had turned into this Kestra lookalike, I had also become a good bit shorter. In fact, if I really had been turned into Kestra, then I would have to be 5 foot 8 according to her profile in the game. "I'm short..." That might not be completely accurate, but it did seem as though I had just shrunk 5 inches.

I hesitated a moment longer and then rushed out of the bathroom to find my tape measure. Then I stood against the wall and carefully measured myself, finding that my guess had been correct. My current height was 5 foot 8, a full 5 inches shorter than I had been the day before. But again, I guess a few inches of height difference was pretty minor compared to all of the other changes to my body.

"How in the world can lightning do THIS?" I grimaced, looking down at myself.

Then I let out a sigh, absently looking around my living room and then pausing as I noticed that my answering machine light was blinking. I had a message... That just reminded me of the way that the phone had been ringing when I had been sort of out of it. I hesitated a moment then pushed the play button, listening as the message started off as a bunch of static but quickly went clear again. It turned out to be from my boss, wondeing where I was and why I hadn't shown up for work.

"Oh shit," I exclaimed, glancing to the clock and gasping as I realized how late I was for work. Hell, it was already noon and my shift was half over. I'd been out of it since the night before...and for longer than I'd realized. "Oh shit..."

As soon as I realized how late it was, I immedately reached for the phone to call and appologize as well as tell them that I wouldn't be able to come in. But then I froze, realizing that this might be rather difficult as I didn't sound anything like myself at the moment. I would have a hell of a time trying to convince anyone at work of who I was.

"Just great," I grimaced.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, suddenly realizing that I had no idea how to fix this...how to change back to normal. And I couldn't very well go back to work until I did. Hell, I couldn't very well have anything to do with anyone that I knew until I got back to normal.

"But can I go back to normal?" I asked myself quietly. I had no idea how I had changed or how long I would remain that way. For all I knew, I might change back at any moment... And then again, I might end up stuck that way for the rest of my life, with no way to ever change back. "Oh God..."

It was then that I realized I was going to need some help. I was going to need some serious help. There was no way that I was going to be able to deal with this...this world shaking event alone. I was going to need someone to talk to...if for no other reason than to prove that I wasn't just imagining things.

At first, I thought about calling someone for help...but then realized that I didn't really have anyone that I could call. I couldn't think of anyone that I could trust enough to tell about THIS.

There was no one at work that I could go to, because even though I had some friendly co-workers, they weren't really friends. I had never hung with any of them away from work, and I was pretty sure that no one there even knew where I lived. And my neighbors weren't an option either as I doubt that I'd spoken more than two or three words to any of them since I'd moved into the apartment.

Of course there was my family, but I only considered going to them for the briefest of moments. My mom had always been fairly religious, but after she and my dad had gotten divorced, she had gone a little overboard. She was one of those nearly obsessive 'born again' types who had more than their fare share of self-righteousness. No matter what the situation was, she seemed to think that she had the moral high ground and that this made her always right. And there was little doubt in my mind that if I did go to her, that if I did tell her about my change, she would assume that this was some sort of punishment from God and then demand that I spend the rest of my life as a nun or praying for forgiveness of my wicked sins...whatever those were supposed to be.

My dad on the other hand was almost the exact opposite of my mom, though not in a good way. He was an alchoholic and compulsive gambler. If I told him about what was going on, about how I had suddenly turned into a video game charachter and a woman, I could just imagine him getting drunk and blabbing about it to all of his friends at the bar. And I could just as easily imagine him either trying to find some way of using me and my unique situation to pay off some gambling debt or to help him make some money in a get rich quick scheme.

And then there was my younger brother Gary, whom I hadn't seen in over a year and a half. The last time that I'd seen him had been shortly before he'd gotten his underage girlfriend pregnant and had then up and disappeared. He wasn't exactly the responsible sort, or the type of person that I would willingly trust with this.

Obviously, my family wasn't extremely close...which was one of the reasons that I'd gone out of my way to keep away from them as of late. I loved them...at least as much as anyone could, but I knew that hanging around any of them wasn't exactly good for me.

And I didn't really have any close friends either...certainly not someone that I could talk to about this. Then it suddenly hit me...the realization of just how few friends I really had. I didn't really have anyone in my life that I was close to...not friends...and not even family. There I was in deep trouble, and I had no one that I could turn to...no one that I could even talk to. And the fact was, that was pretty damn depressing.

"Just great," I grimaced, "I'm a short...weak girl."

Strangely though, I didn't really feel either short or weak. In fact, I felt pretty damn good... I felt stronger and healthier than I'd ever felt before in my life..and I seemed to be feeling even more so with every minute. It was almost as though I had still been a bit physically dazed, even after I'd regained the ability to move, but even that was slowly wearing off.

"Damn it," I spat out, suddenly wondering which was worse...that I had suddenly and inexplicably transformed into a video game girl...or that I didn't feel even worse about it. I should have been completely off balance and on the verge of panic...yet I wasn't. Perhaps it was because I was in shock from all that was going on. Still, making a brief show of being angry seemed to help my masculine self-image.

With that, I snapped around and punched the wall. My fist left a nice hole in the plaster and I gasped a little at my outburst...and how little it hurt my fist to make a hole like that. But at the same time, I somehow knew that when I'd thrown the punch, I had instinctively done so in such a manner as to maximize the force from my fist, while at the same time preventing any damage to myself.

"What the...?" I blinked, stepping back and staring down at my fist in amazement.

Then, partly out of curiosity and some instinctive understanding, I threw a punch into the empty air. My fist was fast and powerful, snapping with a sharp clear focus. I instinctively knew that it was a perfect punch...done in perfect form. And I followed that up by throwing a series of punches in mid-air, doing so with a nearly blinding speed...

"Wow," I whispered, amazed by what I was doing, and how easily I was doing it.

I continued with the punches, shifting into a series of other martial arts moves. They all flowed smoothly...gracefully, as if coming from long practice and experience. I went into an elbow strike, a block and a roundhouse kick, then ended my leg snapping into a high, powerfull kick. I froze with that kick half finished, standing on one leg with my other one still extended in the air.

"My God," I gasped, slowly lowing my foot from the kick, stunned at the realization that I had just kicked high enough to get someone right in their face. And it had been so easy... "It's like I actually have Kestra's martial arts skills too..."

For a moment, I just stood there, marveling at what I had just done and wondering what else I could do. The way that I had been able to do that last kick... That would have to require incredible flexibility...

And with that thought, I dropped to the floor and spread my legs, slowly shifting position until I was doing the splits. Normally something like that would have completely killed me, but now it didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable. I was able to stretch my legs like that without any difficulty at all... Then I bent over, touching first one toe and then the other on the opposite side, marveling again at just how flexible I had become.

A few seconds later, I shifted position again, dropping forward and pulling my feet closed, then lifting myself up into the starting push-up position. I could feel the strength in my body and tested it with a few push-ups. They were easy...effortless even, and I had the feeling that I could do them all day. But I was curious about what else that body could do and was determined to find out more.

With that, I shifed all of my weight to my arms and lifted my feet right off the ground, leaving me doing a hand stand in the middle of my living room floor. I remained in that position for over half a minute before I started to walk across the floor on my hands, my feet sticking almost straight up in the air. And as if that wasn't enough, I shifted my balance and removed one of my hands so that I was doing a hand stand with only one hand. And somehow, I was still able to retain my balance without much effort.

After I had gone back to using both hands, I lowered my legs back to the ground while keeping my hands on the floor. I was now bent over backwards... Finally though, I snapped back, curled into a ball and rolled across the floor before snapping back to my feet.

"Unbelievable," I exclaimed, staring down at myself in amazement...and admiration.

The things that my altered body could do were absolutely incredible. And the way I felt... I mean, I felt utterly fantastic. I felt stronger...healthier and more alive than ever before in my life. And though I knew that I should be completely freaking out over the situation, right then I was feeling far too excited for that.

It was also rather odd that I had only been in that body for fifteen minutes, or at least up and moving about in it for fifteen minutes, and I didn't feel nearly as uncomfortable or off balance as I would have imagined. Perhaps it was due, at least in part, to my obviously improved sense of balance. And then again, perhaps the fact that my new body felt so good and healthy just made it a little easier to accept on some level.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, becoming more aware of the fact that I could feel the new power of my body. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to be stronger than I looked. I could feel that strength and power, flowing just under the surface. It was like a coiled spring...just waiting to be released.

"My God," I whispered, unable to help but being a little impressed with myself, "What else did I get from Kestra?"

Of course the whole thing made no sense whatsoever. How in the world could I possibly have gained those kinds of skills and powers from video game charachter, just by being struck by lightning. Then again, how could I have been turned into a girl or had these strange new clothes suddenly appear on me? Obviously the laws of physics...or at least every one that I knew of had just been thrown out the window.

Just then, I suddenly had another idea. The realization that I had somehow gained so much from Kestra and the curiosity about what else I might have gained drove me to my next experiment. And perhaps there was even a bit of instinctive knowledge as well.

I barely gave any concious thought at all to my actions as I reached behind my back with both hands, found two handles and then smoothly pulled out two katars. The handles fit perfectly into my hands, as if designed just for me. The bladese themselves stuck out about nine inches from my fist, from the base by my knuckles where they were each just a little wider than my fist, all the way to where they tapered off into sharp points. They were deadly, vicious little blades which I somehow instinctively knew how to use.

"Weird," I muttered after a moment, suddenly realizing that I'd pulled the blades out of their sheathes on my lower back...when there hadn't been any blades there before.

When I had been moving around, I would have noticed if I'd had two sharp blades like that strapped to my back, and I had noticed no such thing. There was absolutely no way that I could have possibly missed noticing those things on my back.

"Summoning," I blurted out in sudden realization.

Summoning was not an official technique that you could learn in the game, nor one that was even listed. However, that was a term that many of the players used to refer to what many thought of as a glitch in the game's realism.

Most people who played the game had selected weapons for their charachtes, even if some didn't use those weapons in most of their fights. You had the option to 'sheath' most of your weapons, putting them in the background so you couldn't use them in a fight...or so that you could switch to a different weapon. And when you 'sheathed' your weapons, you could sometimes still see it on your charachter... You might see a charachter's sheathed axe strapped across their back, or their sword in a scabbard at their side. However, there were also a lot of times where you couldn't see any sign of their weapon. A huge sword, spear or axe might disappear without any trace...but could be just as quickly recalled when you were between fights. That ability to have a weapon disappear without a trace when sheathed and then just as easily return was called 'summoning'.

There was really no clear explanation as to why some of the game charachters were able to summon their weapons and why others weren't. However, the main theory was that it depended on both the specific weapons involved and the charachter's school. Kestra was one of those whose weapons did indeed vanish when sheathed until I summoned them again, and as impossible as it was, I now seemed to have inherited that ability along with her clothes.

I made several experimental slashes with my katars, then slipped them back into their sheathes. Strangely, once they were in their sheathes, they seemed to vanish almost entirely. But as soon as I reached back for them, I could feel the handles present...as if they were there only as long as I wanted them to be there.

"Can this possibly get any weirder?" I muttered, shaking my head in disbelief.

Then I reached into my sleave and pulled out one of my throwing knives, of which there had been absolutely no trace of until then...just like my katars. I held the throwing knife out in front of me, taking a close look. It was definitely a throwing knife, being almost all blade but with a ring at the base to grab onto and throw with. And after a moment, I slipped the blade back into my sleave where it once again conveniently vanished.

And after seeing all that had already happened to me, all that I could already do, I couldn't help wondering if I had the ability to do any of Kestra's chi abilities as well... I hesitated a moment, deciding that I probably didn't want to know about that just yet. Things were far too weird for my taste as it was.

I stood there for a few more minutes, just taking everything in and trying to make sense of it all. But it didn't make any sense and I was beginning to doubt that it ever would. All that I could do was take things one minute at a time and see where it all led me.

Finally, I decided that it was all just too much and that I needed to take my mind off of it all for a little while...or at least try to. Maybe then I'd be able to get my mind around my changes just a little bit better. And if I wanted a distraction, I had learned long ago that there was one thing to provide a distraction like no other...video games on my computer. But since my computer was completely trashed, I would have to make due with my TV.

But when I reached for my TV remote, I was more than a little annoyed to find that it wasn't working. I kept clicking the power button but nothing happened. So I went to the TV and pushed the power button on that. It seemed to stay dead for a few seconds longer than it should, but it did turn on.

"At least that works," I muttered, absently putting my hand on top of my TV.

Suddenly, the TV picture began to blur and crackle with a lot of static. As soon as I yanked my hand back, it snapped back to it's normal crystal clarity. I stared at the TV for a moment, then hesitantly put my hand to the screen, only to see it turn into static again.

I slowly moved away from the TV, feeling both curious and worried about this latest oddity. When I went to my clock radio and turned it on, it reacted much like the TV had, turning to static as long as I was touching it but then working again when I wasn't. That only got me even more curious, and I wandered from room to room, touching my electronic devices and finding that most of them seemed to react like that to my touch.

"Just great," I groaned, wondering if that lighting strike had somehow magnetized me along with everything else.

Since my very touch now seemed to disrupt electronic devices, I decided to test something and set my TV remote on the coffee table, pointed at the TV, then used a pencil to change the channel. It worked. I couldn't use my remote control in my hand, but it still worked as long as I wasn't touching it directly when I used it.

"Just great," repeated, not feeling all that proud of my discovery. In fact, it was downright annoying to realize that along with everything else that was happening to me, I couldn't even use my TV properly anymore. "No remote control... It's like I'm some kind of primitive or something..."

Still, the TV was on so I sat down on my couch and leaned back, trying to distract myself from all the changes which had occurred in my body and life. Of course, it didn't work in the least as every breath reminded me that my body was not my own, but I was too stubborn to give up on the idea just yet.

After I had been sitting on my couch for a good twenty minutes or so, trying just a little too hard not to think about my transformed body, I finally decided that I couldn't take it anymore. I had to satisfy the rest of my curiosity...

With that, I gave a gentle tug on my long pony tail, then pulled the hair in front of me enough so that I could see the blue coloring. I shook my head, tugged it again, then let it fall back behind me as I stood up.

I looked down at myself, taking in all of my body's curves, then slowly running my hand over them. It felt extremely strange to be doing that, especially as I didn't even have any of those curves the day before. Hell, I hadn't really even seen any of those curves yet. I could see quite a bit of them through my clothes, but that wasn't exactly the same thing. Not at all.

A minute later, I was back in the bathroom and staring at my reflection in the mirror again. It was still extremely hard to believe that this reflection actually belonged to me. I mean, I wasn't exactly used to seeing a very pretty young woman staring back at me...and I hoped that I wouldn't be in that body long enough to.

"Okay," I said, trying to get my courage up as I began to undo my clothes. "If I'm going to be stuck looking like this for now, I might at least get a look at myself..."

Of course, I'd already known that I would HAVE to take a real good look at my body since I had first seen it staring back at me from the mirror. It had been inevitable, though I had been trying to avoid thinking about that since a part of me thought that as soon as I saw myself naked like that, it would somehow make it all the more real.

As soon as I had taken off my clothes and dropped them onto the floor, I stared into the mirror again, silently taking in every detail of my new body. There was absolutely no doubt that it was indeed a female body...as if I'd had any doubts before. But now I could see it without any clothing obscuring my view or getting in the way.

My body was every bit as nice as I had imagined, with curves in all the right places. But it was obviously the body of an athlete as well, being almost solid muscle. It wasn't bulky muscle like a bodybuilder might have, but more like that of a gymnast. Then again, I knew that most female gymnasts weren't as tall as I was...or as curvy. I guessed that my breasts had to be a B...maybe even C cup...though it was only a rough guess.

"Wow," I finally said after a minute of silent examination.

Then I turned my full attention to the space between my legs, noting the fact that my blue hair seemed to be 'natural'. And not only that, but the little patch of hair down there was also neat and trimmed. But I didn't waste much attention on my body hair, focusing instead on the treasure spot.

A quick examination of my new soft spot proved that I was one hundred percent physically female. I wasn't a gynocologist or anything, but as far as I could tell, it was a perfectly normal female vagina. I couldn't say that I was particularly thrilled by that though.

"Just great," I sighed, running my finger over the senstive skin of my new genitals. I couldn't help but gasping at the sensation. "Kind of...sensitive..."

After this, I continued to explore my body, running my hands over nearly over nearly every inch of my skin as I tried to take it all in. However, I avoided giving much more attention to my new genitals as the whole thing seemed just a little too personal for my comfort.

And once I was finished with my self-examination, I went through some of those new stretches that I was now capable again, though without my clothes they seemed a whole lot kinkier. But somehow, without my clothes to obscure my view of myself, I could appreciate just how...intense my feminine new body was all the better.

But eventually I was done with my self-explorations and my naked cartwheels across my living room floor...at least for the moment. Then I settled back down in front of the TV, not really watching the screen at all...but just thinking. And there was no doubt that I had a whole lot to think about.

Kombat Champion
Part 3 of 16
By Morpheus

When I awoke in the morning, I remained where I was, silent and motionless. All that I did for some time was breath in and breath out, listening to the sound of my own heart. I didn't need to sit up and feel myself up to KNOW that the events of the day before had not been a dream...and that I was still in the body of my video game charachter Kestra.

I finally sat up and looked down at myself, not the least bit surprised to see my female body. There had been no need to see myself since I had been able to feel it from the moment I awoke. I had been able to feel it with nearly every fiber of my being.

Then I climbed out of bed, finding it just a little odd that I felt so awake and ready to go. I'd never been a morning person, though I hadn't been the type to be dead to the world until noon either. Still, there I was, having just woken up and I was already feeling fully charged and ready to go. In fact, I felt ready to take on the world...and as though I could do anything.

"Another advantage," I thought aloud, silently added that to the growing list of advantages to my altered state of being. There were definitely quite a few of them, though there were obviously a number of serious downsides as well.

I let out a long sigh at that, having spent quite a bit of time the day before doing nothing but thinking about my situation and all of the problems it created. When I had gone to bed, it had been with the hopes that I would wake up back to normal, or that I would have awoken to discover that it had all been a dream. But as it was morning and I was still Kestra, that was obviously not the case.

"Damn," I grimaced, knowing that this had just gotten more serious.

For a moment, I just stood there scowling in dismay, not wanting to deal with the ramifications of my transformation. However, I knew that it wasn't like I exactly had a choice.

Then I decided to try dealing with things one step at a time, and that meant taking care of my morning business. First was a trip to the bathroom to relieve myself. I'd had my first experience doing that the day before, and it had felt a bit odd then too. But thankfully, the biological process of getting rid of bodily waste was actually pretty similar for both men and women.

A few minutes later, I was in the shower and carefully washing my body. Of course a bath might have been a nice and relaxing to both clean up and get used to my new body at the same time, though at the moment I was more interested in just getting clean. Still, it was pretty difficult to focus on cleaning myself without getting distracted, and I have to admit that I lost my focus more than once.

And once I was done with my shower, I had so much energy that I just had to burn some of it off. I almost felt a little bit like I was hyperactive, though I knew that it wasn't quite that bad. But to take care of some of this energy, I did some stretching, then did around a hundred push-ups, followed by as many sit-ups. When I finally stopped, it was more because I was bored than because I was feeling tired.

"Incredible," I muttered, feeling even more impressed with my new body, in spite of myself.

However, once I was done with my morning distractions, my thoughts returned to all of the problems that my situation was going to cause me. Since I was still Kestra, I had a growing suspicion that I was going to remain that way for quite some time to come. In fact, I was even beginning to suspect that I might be stuck like that for the rest of my life.

"Lightning doesn't strike twice," I told myself grimly, silently adding that even if by some miracle it did, it could never do anything as weird as my transformation a second time. If it didn't wear off on it's own...which I had no reason to believe that it would, then I would have to get used to remaining as I was. "Not a pleasant prospect..."

I let out a sigh as I sat down, thinking about what was going to happen to me. As hard as it was, I tried to distance myself from the problem and think about it objectively. Of course, I'd already thought most of this through the day before while sitting around the apartment.

Since it was the first day of my weekend, I wouldn't have to worry about the people at work asking about me for several more days. But if I was still Kestra by then, then they were going to be wondering where I was since I couldn't exactly go into work as I was or call in sick. If my co-workers questioned where I was...that could quickly lead to other people asking where I was...where Craig Belmont was...including the police.

"That could be a real problem," I thought aloud, knowing that it would be an even greater problem if 'Craig' had suddenly disappeared without any warning, and a strange blue haired woman that no one knew was found living in his apartment. I...that was the new me, would be an immediate suspect in the disappearance of the old me. "Definitely not good..."

Though I hated the idea, I knew that I only had one option at the moment. I was going to have to vanish...in more ways than one. The only way for me to avoid being a suspect in my own disappearance was to cut ties to my old life...to run off and start over. It wasn't going to be easy in the least, but I was growing more certain that it would be necessary.

If I was able to somehow find a way to change back into myself, I could always show up again, giving some story about having been kidnapped or having been wandering around with amnesia. If I changed back to my normal self, I could always come up with some explanation... But if I remained as I was, which I believed would likely be the case, then there was no way that I could explain away what had happened.

"Lightning doesn't cause people to turn into video game charachters," I said, knowing that there was absolutely no way in hell that I would be able to get anyone to believe a story like that. At best, they'd think I was insane and lock me away. And at worst, they'd assume that I murdered Craig Belmont and I'd still be locked away. "It's better to just leave..."

I felt horribly sad as I thought about that, about cutting ties with my family and friends. Of course, I wasn't really close with my family and I didn't really have any close friends... I didn't really have that many ties to cut. But that wasn't the point... The thought of just up and abandonning my old life and everything I knew was harsh. But it was also necessary.

Fortunately, I reminded myself, I still had several days before I'd really have to worry about that too much. I could spend that time setting things up, trying to find a new job and place to live... But I knew that I would have to hurry...and that I would have to be quiet about it. It certainly wouldn't do to have the neighbors tell the police that there was a strange blue haired woman living in Craig's apartment around the time he suddenly disappeared.

Of course, there was one other option that I could use instead of just vanishing without a trace... I could sent an E-mail to my family to let them know that I found a new girlfriend and that we were going to run off and start a new life together. That might explain my disappearance as well as keep people from looking for me. But at the same time, it would provide a connection between Craig and Kestra which might be problematic.

"One thing at a time," I reminded myself.

Before I could vanish, there were things that I was going to need. For one, I was going to need new clothes since none of my old stuff really fit me anymore and the lightning had left me with only one outfit, and that one kind of stood out. And for that, as well as everything else` I was going to need money. I could get nearly a thousand from my bank account, but that wouldn't get me too far.

"Damn," I muttered, looking around my apartment.

There was one fact that I couldn't help thinking of. If I was going to leave my place in a hurry, which I was going to have to do, I was going to have to leave almost everything behind. I couldn't afford the time or hassel of closing my rental account with the managers, especially not looking as I currently did. I couldn't afford the time and trouble of gettting a moving van and moving everything out... Even if I could, I would definitely be seen...there was no helping that. And the very point was that I was trying to avoid being seen and remembered.

"Just the necessities," I grimaced, hating the idea of leaving everything behind, but knowing that I didn't even have a new place to move anything into. Hopefully I could find something before then. I still had a little time if I was careful.

My plans had already been made, though I still had a lot of details to work out. However, I would work on those as I went along. It wasn't like I had a whole lot of choice.

It was just a short time later when I left my apartment, wearing the purple costume that had come along with my body, as well as a few extras so that I didn't stand out so much. I had on my longest coat, which served to hide my unusual clothes a bit, as well as a hat for my hair. Blue hair might not be considered as odd as it once was, but it was still out of the ordinary enough to attract attention which I did not want.

I had to admit that I had mixed feelings as I went out. It was my first time going out in public as my new self, and I was feeling nervous...and even a little bit excited. A part of me was afraid that someone would point me out, laughing at a guy being dressed up as a girl. Yet another part of me felt excited, as though the whole playing dress-up and being seen as something other than I was inside was just some sort of thrill.

The first thing that I did was walk to a supermarket to take some money from my ATM. I could have gone to one at the bank which was closer, but the ones at banks had video cameras which watched you, while supermarkets didn't. And at the moment, my goal was to avoid any cameras or other things that would connect the blue haired woman from Craig.

"Too bad I can't get more out," I muttered when I walked away from the ATM, making sure to keep my head down so that even the cameras which watched me go through the store wouldn't have any good pictures of me. Unfortunately, my account would only let me withdraw up to $400 a day. "I'll have to make several trips..." Of course, I would go to different places for each withdrawal to help keep me from being tracked.

Even as I left the store with my money, I couldn't help wondering if I was being just a little bit paranoid. After all, who would bother looking for me if I just disappeared? But still, I couldn't help thinking that it was better safe than sorry.

Since I now had my finances in hand, I decided to take care of my next most important task. I was NOT very enthusiastic as I went to the store to look for clothes, but I knew that it had to be done. I couldn't very well get along with only the outfit I was wearing, especailly when it was so noticeable.

When I had gone looking for a store to shop at, I decided to try for one where my appearance might not be quite so out of the ordinary. And that left me with only one place that I could think of off the top of my head. The mall. I couldn't count the number of times that I'd seen teenagers...and even some adults wandering around there with oddly colored hair.

"Let's see," I mused, not even really sure where to start. I had no idea all that would be required for girl clothes. Then I reminded myself that I was going to have to be very practical, and there were several issues which I would need to remain aware of as I shopped.

For one, I was trying not to attract too much attention, so any real cute and sexy outfits were really out. Of course I probably wouldn't have worn anything like that anyway, though a part of me was almost disappointed as I kind of wanted to see what my new body would like like all decked out.

And then, I only had a limited amount of money and I woudn't be in a position to get much more until I was able to find some sort of job that paid under the table. I figured that this wouldn't be too hard as there were always resteraunts and places that were willing to hire people and pay with cash and cashiers checks rather than go official. There was something to be said for avoiding the hassel of paying the government or paying for all of those benefits. However, until I found that job, I wasn't going to be able to afford too much.

"What I need and nothing more," I told myself firmly.

I quickly went through one of the shops, picking out a pair of jogging suits, which I thought were pretty practical. They were cheap, would fit me without any real concerns for size and they wouldn't attract much attention. However, it was only after buying them that I realized that they might not be quite as practical as I had first thought. After all, I couldn't very well go around...and even working in just a jogging suit.

At the next store, I went and bought some slacks and shirts... They were fairly simple, but they were more obviously women's clothes. Still, those were the kind of clothes that were designed for my new body, and I was practical enough to know that this was what I was going to have to get used to. But buying those clothes meant that I had to try them on first, which meant that I had a bit better idea as to what my new sizes where.

However, the thoughts about my sizes did lead me to one other realization. I needed underwear that was a bit more appropriate for my new body. And though I was tempted, I steered clear of Victorias Secret. It might be fun posing in that stuff in front of a mirror, but I was determined to remain practical at the moment.

I was pretty embarassed to go searching through the lingerie section, knowing that I must look even more ridiculous since I had absolutely no idea as to my sizes. Fortunately, there was a helpful sales lady who was happy enough to help measure me, though I did have to come up with a story about being from Australia and telling her that they used different measurements there. I had no idea if that was true or not, but she bought it and gave me all the help that I needed. I ended up walking out of there with a couple of bras and a half dozen pairs of panties.

"That should hold me over now," I sighed in relief that my shopping was nearly over.

The only thing that was left for me to buy at the moment were a nice pair of shoes. The ones that came with my outfit were sort of like moccasins and were extremely comfortable, but they were purple and would look a bit odd with anything that I'd just bought. I quickly settled on a pair of plain looking tennis shoes then rushed out of the mall.

"Just great," I grumbled as I tried to balance the half dozen shopping bags that filled my hands. "At least now I can go home..."

But saying that last bit sent a faint chill down my spine. I wouldn't have that apartment of mine for my longer and I didn't have anything else set up just yet. That was the one part of my plan to vanish and start over which really worried me. I was going to need to find a place to stay and find it fast. And hopefully, I could find it before I left my current place.

"Maybe I should move to a different city," I mused aloud, realizing that this would be the logical extension of cutting my ties to everything in my old life starting over. The thought of leaving my familiar surroundings was not a comforting one, but it was one that I needed to consider.

I was so lost in thought that I wasn't paying much attention to my surroundings. I knew that there were a lot of people around me, and I was vaguely aware of a group of suspicious looking young men standing around nearbye. However, I hadn't really given them any thought, though perhaps I should have.

Suddenly, several of the young men went into action at once, with the others hesitating only a moment before following their lead. Two of them men hit me, or at least rushed up, snatched the bags out of my hands while I was surprised. Others in the group were doing the same thing to some of the people around me, grabbing their purses and shopping bags and then rushing off.

"What the?" I gasped in shock as my bags were tore right out of my hands.

There was no concious thought to my next actions, or at least very little. I was furious and chased after them, quickly slipping out of my coat and revealing the purple costume that I was still wearing. I was in motion, jumping higher and faster than a normal person should, catching one of them with a foot to his back and sending him flying face first into the ground.

"What the hell...?" one of the other young men yelled out in shock.

However, I wasn't finished yet and charged at the man who had taken my other bags. Somehow, everything seemed to be moving almost in slow motion and I was aware of almost every detail of my surroundings. His friends had abandonned their stolen goods...at least for the most part, and were coming at me as well.

I just grimaced and launched into a nearly impossible flip, catching a second man with a kick and then lashing out to punch a third. They all backed up and eyed me warily, until one of them pulled out a knive, obviously ready to take this to the next level.

At that moment, the words of Paul Hogan in the movie Crocodile Dundee suddenly came into my head, and I quickly reached back and pulled out my katars, grinning, "You call that a knife...?"

"Holy shit," several people exclaimed at once, along with similar comments. "Where did she get those things," or at least a variation of that was another one that seemed to come from several places around me at once.

The would be muggers just stood around and stared at me in shock, obviously wondering where the hell I had gotten the katars, as well as what those things might do to them. Then almost as one, the young men all turned and ran at once.

"Bastards," I muttered, putting my katars back into their sheathes, feeling them sort of vanish until I summoned them again.

Then it suddenly dawned on me what I had just done. I'd never been the heroic type, though I had been willing to fight when I had to. But this... This was something else entirely. I'd just KNOWN that I could fight them....that I could stop them with ease. And that seemed to have been all that I needed to go into action with the skills that had come along with my new body

"Oh shit," I gulped, quickly glancing around and realizing that there had been a number of people saw that little scene. I'd been trying hard not to attract any attention, and I'd just blown that idea all to hell. I doubted that any of them would ever forget me after seeing that. "Oh shit..."

With that, I quickly gathered up my own shopping bags, threw my coat on and rushed off as fast as I could. I didn't want that attention and almost regretted what I'd done. However, the few people who called out yells of encouragement and even of thanks helped remove that regret.

I hurried away from the scene of that little fight, wanting to avoid any more of a scene than I had already created. I cursed the men who had started it all under my breath as I did so, furious at them for making me attract so much attention just when I was trying so hard to avoid it.

However, I had walked a good distance when I suddenly realized that I was being followed. It wasn't any of those men who were following me though. To my surprise, it was some woman. I had seen her standing back and watching the fight with a look of shock and disbelief on her face,
much like everyone else, and I had absolutely no idea why she had decided to follow me.

Since I was still pretty ticked off about the attempted mugging, I decided to confront her rather than just ditch her. I turned around a corner, then abruptly stopped, waiting there until she turned the corner as well.

"Why the hell are you following me?" I suddenly demanded.

The woman suddenly froze, giving me a chance to get a better look at her. She was a rather pretty brunette, in her late twenties or even early thirties. And for a moment, she just stared at me with a look of stunned disbelief...and a hint of fear.

"You...you're Kestra....aren't you?" the woman finally blurted out.

"What?" I gasped in surprise, "Where did you hear that name?"

"My God," the woman stammered on, "I thought I recognized you... But that's impossible... Unless..." She paused, took a deep breath and then continued a little more calmly, "You designed your charachter based on yourself, didn't you?"

"What?" I asked again, feeling even more confused...not to mention nervous. Who was this woman who seemed to recognize me...or at least the charachter that I had been turned into.

"I play Kombat Champions too," the woman blurted out, still staring at me in amazement, "My charachter is Vypra..."

"Vypra?" I repeated in surprise. "You're Vypra?"

If what she said was true, than I had talked to this woman online quite a number of times. Of course we had fought on the game, but there were times where we had just sat there and talked about things outside of it.

"Well," she blushed, "My name is Nancy... Vypra is just my charachter. I mean, you don't see me with green hair or anything..." Then she stared at my hair, "I can't believe how much you look like your charachter..."

"Uncanny, isn't it?" I said, not sure what else I could say.

Nancy just nodded, "Uncanny is right... I never thought that I'd meet you outside of the game, much less be able to recognize you on sight..."

"Well, It's nice to finally meet you," I told her, giving a weak smile. "I'm just a little on edge after what happened back there..."

"You really kicked butt," Nancy exclaimed, "The way you moved... It was just like something right out of the game..."

"Um...yeah," I said, not sure that I liked where that was going.

"And your clothes..." Nancy shook her head in amazement, "You're even wearing the same clothes as in the game..."

My mind raced around that one as I tried to come up with some sort of reasonable explanation. Then it dawned on me... "I was going to a costume party and decided that I might as well go as Kestra..." I shrugged, "I guess I just got a little too into charachter..."

Nancy seemed to accept that explanation, much to my relief. In fact, I think that she was relieved as well, as though such a simple explanation made me safer and not just some weirdo who thought she was some sort of video game charachter. I silently reminded myself that I would have to use the costume party line again if someone started asking about my odd clothes and blue hair.

Then Nancy hesitated for a moment before smiling nervously and told me, "I don't live too far from here... Why don't you come on over to my apartment so we can talk for awhile..."

The invitation caught me by surprise, and though I knew that it wouldn't be a good idea, I had to admit that I was tempted. The two of us had been talking online for months and the chance to actually talk and get to know her in person was really hitting my curiosity hard.

"Come on," she pushed gently, "It'll be nice to talk in person for once..."

I thought about it for a moment more before reluctantly nodding. In spite of the fact that it was a bad idea, I couldn't resist the temptation.

Nancy had been telling the truth when she said that her place wasn't far away, and we were soon sitting down inside. It was a modest sized apartment, nothing too large or fancy but certainly not small or cramped either.

"My husband isn't home right now," Nancy told me, "so it's just the two of us..."

"Okay," I nodded, remembering that she'd mentioned being married several times while we'd been talking.

Then she offered me a glass of tea, which I accepted with a smile. I didn't really care for the stuff, but since she was offering I didn't want to offend her to turning it down.

"So," Nancy grinned, "Do I call you Kestra or...?" She left it hanging.

"My friends call me Kes," I smiled back, earning a faint chuckle.

"Oh, the costume party," Nancy gasped, starting at me as I took off my coat again. "I'd almost forgotten... You don't have to be late on my account..."

"Don't worry about it," I reassured her, "It's not a big deal at all..."

"But getting dressed up like that," she insisted on continuing.

"It isn't a big deal," I told her again. "I'd rather be here."

That seemed to console her and she changed the subject. We started talking about the game, about Kombat Champions and some of the charachter's that we'd played against. It was kind of fun, especially when we both snickered about some of the idiots who had signed up to play the game.

And as we talked, it was almost easy to forget that we had never actually met in person before then...and even about my strange situation and problems. However, I was quickly reminded whenever she brought up the subject of just how realistic my costume was.

Nancy and I talked for a good two hours, and it was strange to realize that I was quickly thinking of her as a very close friend. It was even stranger to suddenly realize that she was probably my closest friend. And then I realized, that this was rather pathetic. My closest friend in the world was someone that I'd never even seen in person until a couple hours earlier.

I guess my thoughts began to show on my face a bit as Nancy put her hand on me knee and gently asked, "What's wrong?"

For a moment, I just stared back at her... Then the tears began to come. I had no idea where they came from, but it was as if all of the stress of my situation and the realization of just how alone in the world I had been hit me all at once. It all came out in a burst of tears...

"What's wrong?" Nancy asked again, looking worried.

I was emberassed, feeling kind of foolish for just sitting there and falling apart. I quickly wiped the tears from my cheeks, desperately trying to figure out WHY I was reacting like that. Though the simple and easy answer could have been that I had been turned into a woman and women cry easily, I seriously doubted that the answer would have been anything like that. More likely, the truth was that I had been through a hell of a lot in the last few weird days and it was just catching up to me... It was catching up to me big time.

Nancy just sat there with a concerned expression on her face. She was obviously dying to know what was wrong and why I was losing it like that, but she was too polite to ask. Instead, she just reamined where she was, as if hoping her presence would give some sort of silent comfort. And in a strange way, it did.

"I...I don't just look like Kestra," I said slowly, not sure why I was telling her this. "I am her..."

"What?" Nancy blinked in surprise.

For a moment, I just stared at her, afraid that she would think that I was crazy. I wasn't even sure why I had told her that much, especially since I knew that not only would she not believe me, but that I had been trying to avoid attention. It made no sense, even to me.

Then it hit me... It was all part of the crying, of the pent up emotion... I had no one else in my life that I could tell about this...not even my own family. But I needed to tell someone... I couldn't keep it all to myself... And since I felt so close and friendly with Nancy, I guess a part of me had decided that I could tell her.

I took a deep breath, deciding that since I had started telling her, I might as well go all of the way. She might think that I was crazy if I told her the whole thing, but she would think I was crazy if I just left things as they were.

"I know this will sound crazy," I whispered, wiping away the tears. I looked at Nancy, giving her an intense look as if willing her to believe me. "But this isn't exactly a costume..." I tugged my hair to prove that it wasn't a wig. "And I didn't always look like this."

"What do you mean?" Nancy asked cautiously, watching me carefully.

With that, I let out a sigh, knowing that now I was going to have to put my money where my mouth was. I stood up and stepped back from her, slowly turning around to make sure that she could get a good look at my back. Then while she was watching, I carefully reached behind me, grabbed the handles of my katars as they came into being and pulled them out.

"What the?" Nancy blinked in surprise. "Where did those things come from?"

She looked a bit afraid of the katars, and I didn't blame her since I'd just pulled out a couple of sharp blades. But at the same time, she also looked pretty curious.

"Summoning," I told her, giving a weak smile. "Just like in the game..."

Then, I decided that I would have to do even more. Though I hadn't tried any of my chi moves yet, I was pretty sure that I could do those as well. After all, if I could do the whole summoning thing, I could probably do other interesting tricks as well.

And with that, I closed my eyes, somehow feeling the chi energy within me... I could feel that it was indeed finite, that it had definite limits. Then, I smiled faintly, somehow instinctively knowing how to use my channel technique... I transferred a part of my chi energy through my hands and into my katars, letting out a faint sigh of relief as the blades began to glow with a faint violet light.

"My God," Nancy exclaimed, jumping to her feet and staring at me.

I nodded, then carefully put my katars away, not wanting to appear as though I was threatening her in any way. As soon as they had vanished back to wherever the hell they went, I turned to let her see that the katars were indeed gone. I even lifted my shirt up enough to show that they weren't being hidden.

Nancy slowly came closer to me, staring at my lower back in disbelief. Then she carefully touched me, running her hand over my entire back and seeming stunned that there was no sign of the katars. "How...?" she finally asked, stepping back and staring at me as though I might be some kind of alien.

"Like I said," I told her with a frown, sitting back down on her couch as I did so, "I am Kestra... At least physically..." I shook my head, "Just a couple days ago, I was perfectly normal... I was playing the game when I got hit by lightning. Don't ask me how, but somehow it actually turned me into Kestra... It even gave me all of her abilities from the game..."

'You're kidding me," she gasped.

I shook my head, responding, "No..." Then letting out a long sigh, I told her, "I wish I was... I was just playing the game, then ZAP.... I woke up yesterday looking like this..." I gestured down at myself.

Nancy stared at me in amazement, looking as though she believed me. But then again, that demonstration of summoning and channeling the chi through my katars was probably pretty convincing. And then there was the way I'd been fighting back at the mall...

"How can you handle something like that?" Nancy finally asked me, "I mean...something like that...turning into Kestra has to be strange..."

"It's even stranger than that," I told her with a sigh, "At least for me." I scowled deeply, feeling rather emberassed as I admitted, "Before the lightning turned me into Kestra, I was a guy..."

Nancy's eyes shot open at that and she stared at me with a renewed look of disbelief. She gulped, looking as though her entire world view had just been shaken...which I guess it had been. "Why...why are you telling me about all this?"

"I...I trust you," I told her, not completely sure why, but I did. "I guess I needed to tell someone and..." I shrugged...

"And I just happen to be it?" she smiled, looking a little honored.

"Pretty much," I responded, feeling pretty self-concious at the moment. I mean, there I was, a guy in a girl's body and I had just admitted as much to someone else. I could feel her looking at me, seeing me in a slightly different light, and it was sort of emberassing. It felt much more comfortable to be a woman if that was what people saw me as and didn't know any different.

Nancy nodded and sat down, looking at me with a strange expression that was a mixture of curiosity and concern. She obviously didn't think that I was any kind of a threat anymore, and instead looked as though she wanted to help me.

And with that, I opened up and told her everything... I told Nancy all about what had happened to me since I had been struck by lightning...and it felt like such an incredible relief. It was great to have finally been able to open up and share all of that with someone, and I didn't feel nearly so alone anymore.

Kombat Champion
Part 4 of 16
By Morpheus

I sat there for a long time, staring at Nancy while she stared back at me. I had told her everything...all about who I had been before the strange lightning strike and everything that had happened to me afterwards. And as expected, she was completely and totally stunned.

"You really have her special moves," Nancy whispered.

"Yeah," I nodded, having already told her that several times, even demonstrating the ability to summon my weapons and channel my chi.

"This must be extremely strange for you," she told me, "I mean, turning into a woman..."

"You have no idea," I sighed.

She stared at me again before tenatively saying, "You seem to be handling it pretty well..."

"I don't have much choice," I reminded her with a scowl. "It's either handle it and make plans for it or go insane..."

Nancy continued to stare at me for a few more seconds, then at the floor. "Your plan to disappear...." She shook her head. "I don't know how you could do something like that..."

"I don't want to," I told her with a scowl. "But I don't really have much choice." I had already explained my reasoning for this to her so didn't bother to repeat it. However, I did add, "If I don't disappear...things could get a LOT more complicated than I can deal with..."

Thoughts of my secret being discovered suddenly ran through my mind. I gulped at the thought of suddenly having my story spread out all over the new. It would be completely humiliating and I would have no privacy at all. But even worse, I would probably vanish anyway...this time unwillingly. I might end up in some secret research laboratory as a guinea pig while they disected me and tried to find out how I had changed...and how my weird chi powers all worked.

"I can't have that," I grimaced.

Nancy nodded at that in understanding, giving my a sympathetic look. Then she finally said, "I think I have an idea..." She paused a moment, licking her lips thoughtfully before continuing, "We have a spare bedroom... You can stay here for a month or so until you get up and going again..."

"What?" I gasped in surprise. "Do you mean that?"

Though I'd tried not to think about it too much, one of my biggest worries was about where I was going to go. About where I was going to stay. I didn't want to be stuck living in a homeless shelter... So as unexpected as Nancy's offer was, it also meant quite a lot to me.

"But your husband...," I said, suddenly remembering that she was married and that it wasn't her decision. At leat not entirely.

"Don't worry about Tom," Nancy told me with a grin, "I'll talk to him when he gets home...

--------------------

To Nancy's credit, as soon as her husband Tom came home from work, she did exactly as she had said she would and had a little talk with him. I had thought she was halfway out of her mind and that there was no way that she could get someone to let a complete and total stranger just move in with them, but I was quickly proven wrong.

Nancy was all sweet and smiles, telling Tom a story about how I was an old friend from college who had just ended a bad relationship where my boyfriend had destroyed nearly everything that I owned in retaliation. She spun a nice story, with the true part being that I had gone through a recent trauma and was having to start over from scratch... And by the time that she was done, I felt like offering my own help to the poor victim...until I remembered that it was supposed to be me.

Before I knew what was happening, Tom had not only agreed to let me stay in the spare bedroom while I got back on my feet, but he seemed to think that it was his own idea at the same time. I didn't know whether to be horrified at just how easily Nancy had manipulated him, or amused. Either way, I was thankful to have one of my worries dealt with.

"Thank you so much," I told her sincerely, "You have no idea how much this means to me... I mean, you've never even met me in person before today..."

Nancy just smiled at me, "Well, you needed some help and I've never been one to turn someone away when they needed it. And besides, I liked playing against you..."

"You like losing against me," I teased, getting a chuckle and an offer of another rematch in return.

Since I now I had a place to stay, and even sooner than I ever could have hoped, I decided that it was time to move out of my old place. I went back to my apartment, telling Nancy not to come... After all, if I was cutting ties with my old life, I didn't need anyone to see her and connect her with where I'd gone.

I looked around my apartment, feeling extremely sad as I did so. It wasn't going to be easy to leave all of that... It was going to be especially difficult to leave my TV, but I couldn't exactly bring that with me. Of course, it wasn't leaving my property that was the real hard part, but leaving everything that it represented...my old life.

When I saw my computer, or at least the ruined mess that was left of it, I let out a sigh. "At least I won't have to worry about that..." It was history whether I brought it with me or not.

For the next ten minutes or so, I just wandered around my apartment, silently saying my goodbye's to everything. Then I took my gym back and packed up the few items that I was going to take with me. There was my hidden cash stash, a few personal items that I couldn't bear leaving behind and some photos among other things. And once I had collected everything that I was going to take with me, I tried to clean up as many traces of my new self as I could.

"I wish I would have thought about fingerprints and stuff ahead of time," I muttered with a grimace. But it was too late to do anything but clean everything up a little before I left. "I just hope that it's enough..."

It didn't take me long to finish doing everything that I had to do. And once I was done, I went to my fridge, grabbed some leftover fried chicken and took a bite. I silently looked over my apartment again, letting out a long sigh.

"Goodbye," I said, turning and leaving, taking another bite of my chicken as I walked away. I had brought what I could with me, and that was going to have to do.

Later that night, after I had moved into Nancy's spare bedroom, she came in with a grin, "I bought something to help you.."

"Yeah?" I looked up at her.

"Well I know that you said that you wanted to avoid attention," Nancy told me, coming over and putting a hand on my hair, "And this just cries for attention. So I bought some dye... What do you think about being a brunette?"

I looked at the bottle of hair dye that Nancy offered, and the pair of scissors that she had pulled out as well. As soon as I saw the scissors, I knew what she meant by them. If I cut my hair a bit shorter, it would help to attract less attention as well. However, for some reason I felt somewhat reluctant to cut my hair. In fact, it almos seemed silly to me, but I rather liked long hair on women and it seemed such a shame to cut it...even on myself.

"I'll keep the hair long," I told her, "But I can handle being brunette..."

With that decided, Nancy and I went into her bathroom and spent a good deal of time running the dye through my hair and changing it from it's blue color into something a bit more socially acceptable. And once we were done, I had to admit that it looked pretty decent.

"So I'm a brunette now," I said, running my hands through my black hair. After several days with blue hair, it almost seemed strange to have black hair now. "I can handle this..."

"It looks good on you," Nancy told me with a smile.

Unfortunately, when I took my shower the next morning, every bit of the dye washed straight out of my hair. I was a bit stunned, but quickly realized that whatever it was that made my body so strange...that gave me the blue hair and made it so that I couldn't handle electronics, also made it so that I couldn't dye my hair either...at least not unless I wanted to do it every day. It looked like I was stuck with the blue hair.

-------------------

"This stinks," I grumbled as I leaned back from the computer, glaring at it in disgust. "I can't even use a computer anymore..."

I had just gotten on Nancy's computer in order to surf the web a bit when I discovered that it wouldn't work for me anymore. Or at least the keyboard and mouse didn't work properly for me anymore. It was the same as with just about any other electronics equipment I touched. For some reason, my very touch kept it from working for me.

"What's wrong?" Nancy asked as she came up.

"This," I grumbled, typing a few things on her keyboard and showing that there were no results on the screen. "I told you about how my TV remote doesn't work for me... Well, nothing electronic seems to anymore..."

"That stinks," she frowned.

I nodded at that, then put my hand to the computer monitor, frowning as the whole thing blurred out at my touch. I pulled my hand away and it returned to it's normal state.

"That does stink," Nancy shook her head. I guess you can't check your e-mail..."

"There is a way around it," I told her, "But it takes some time..."

With that, I used a pencil to start typing on the keyboard, pushing one key at a time. It took quite a bit of time, but it worked. Whatever it was that made my touch mess up electronics seemed to need direct contact to actually work.

After a few minutes of checking out some of my favorite sites online, I logged onto the Kombat Champions game. There was something that I was really curious about. But when I tried logging on to my account, it said that it wasn't there. I retyped my user name and password, but it didn't do any good. It said that I didn't have an account.

"Your account just vanished?" Nancy gasped when I showed her. She stared at the screen, "Are you sure that you didn't cancel it..."

"Positive,' I told her with a grimace. "In fact, I was in the middle of playing when THIS happened to me... I haven't been able to get back on since..."

"Let me try something," Nancy told me, gesturing for me to get out of the way and then sitting down in front of the computer herself. She logged into her own account, then did a charachter search... However, it came back with the results that there was no charachter named Kestra in the game. "It looks like you were erased from the game..."

"Just one more thing," I grimaced, knowing that it must have happened when I'd been struck by lightning. "Maybe it somehow transferred Kestra's profile to me and made it real..."

"Makes as much sense as anything else," Nancy told me.

I just nodded at that, "I guess..."

We just sat there for a few minutes before Nancy started, "So Kes...have you figured out what you're going to do for money yet?"

"Not yet," I frowned. "I'm going to start looking for under the table jobs pretty soon." I scowled even deeper and added, "It's going to be a little more difficult finding a job that doesn't require any ID or social security."

"Good point," Nancy admitted.

I let out a sigh at that, "Yep."

After a few more minutes, Nancy brought up another problem that I was going to face. "If you really are a woman all the way through, you're going to need to learn a few things about taking care of your body..."

"Oh shit," I grimaced, having managed to avoid thinking too much about that particular aspect of my transformation.

"Are you really female now?" Nancy asked as if having a doubt. "I mean, completely..."

"As far as I can tell," I frowned, "Though it's not like I've gone to the doctor and had an examination..."

"Well I'm no doctor," Nancy said slowly, "But maybe I can have a look..." She was a bit emberassed to have suggested it, and I was emberassed as well.

"I don't know," I hesitated. Then I looked at her, took a deep breath and steeled myself. "Okay..." I guess a second opinion might not hurt... Especially not one from someone who knows a bit more about female biology than me.

We both remained where we were for a few more minutes before we finally decided to just go ahead and do it. I stripped out of my clothes, silently thankful that her husband Tom was at work rather than in the apartment. I only hoped that he didn't come home early and catch us like that or he might get the wrong idea.

"Okay," I said once I had all of my clothes off, "Lets play doctor and get it over with..."

"Trust me," Nancy told me, "A real doctor would be a lot more uncomfortable about giving an examination than I am..."

I stood there, completely naked for several minutes while Nancy carefully looked over every inch of my body. She examined my breasts and even touched them, apparently to see if they felt like a real woman's breasts.

"You're even blue down here," she exclaimed as she examined the space between my legs. "How can you have blue hair...?"

"How can lighting change a person into a video game charachter?" I responded.

It was at this point that the examination became truly emberassing. Still, I cringed and tried to bear it...just wanting to get it done and out of the way. Maybe after this I wouldn't be so nervous when it finally came time to get checked out by a real doctor.

When Nancy was finished, she stood back and shook her head. "Well, I'm no doctor but as far as I can tell you've got all the right parts in all of the right places."

"I kind of figured that much," I grimaced, quickly covering myself up.

"I mean, it sure looks like the real thing to me," she said, obviously emberassed about it as well. "But I guess we'll know for sure if you start having your period..."

"Ugh," I winced, definitely not liking that idea.

Once I had my clothes about halfway on again, Nancy reminded me, "About what I said earlier..." I gave her a blank look and she continued, "About needing to learn things..."

I stared at her for a moment, understanding what she meant. "Will you help me?"

Of course I already knew the answer. I doubted that she would have brought the subject up if she hadn't been willing. But it still seemed important for me to ask...at least for me.

Nancy blinked at me, as if surprised that I'd asked even after she'd made the tenative offer. Then she smiled and nodded, "We'll start your lessons in womanhood immediately..."

--------------------

I had spent three days under Nancy's careful tutelage, learning everything that she would teach me about what I would need to survive as a woman. She showed me everything that I needed to know about feminine hygien, as well as quite a bit more.

Nancy had a few choice comments about my limited wardrobe and took me out to get a few more outfits, ones which she thought would be a little more feminine and appropriate, as well as flatter my body a bit more. It was a bit more money than I wanted to spend on clothes, but she hipped in half so I couldn't really argue there.

However, Nancy also insisted on giving me makeup lessons. My first impulse was not only to say no, but hell no... That was just going too far... But I just couldn't do that. I was the one who had asked Nancy to teach me what I would need to live as a woman, and I couldn't very well say no now that she was doing just that. So I grimaced, sucked it up and did my best to pay attention and learn.

Though it was a bit uncomfortable and emberassing for me at times, I had to admit that I was making pretty good progress as far as Nancy's lessons went. I was picking up a lot of things that I'd never really given much thought to before, and feeling just a little more confident in my situation.

Of course, I was still a guy, trapped in the body of a female video game charachter. It was still pretty odd for me, yet not as bad as it could have been. My new body was in unbelievable shape and I felt utterly fantastic. I had no doubt that feeling healthier and more alive than I had ever felt in my life played a large role in just how well I was adjusting.

But unfortunately, I might have made a good bit of progress in my lessons with Nancy, but I hadn't gotten anywhere with my job search. It was hard enough looking for a new job at the best of times, but to look for one when you had no identification and were trying to get paid under the table... It wasn't like I could go to the classifieds to find a job like that, and a lot of the jobs out there where they wouldn't ask questions were ones which I had no interest in being involved in.

I know that I hadn't been searching all that long and that it was unrealistic to expect to find anything so quickly, yet I was still feeling a bit frustrated. It was probably due to the fact that I had just cut loose all ties to my old life and didn't have any idea about what my future my hold. That kind of situation would be hard for anyone to handle.

At the moment, I had decided to go pound some street while looking for a job. Or at least that was the excuse I gave myself, when in fact I knew that I was more or less just going for a walk downtown to get some fresh air and clear my head. Still, it made me feel better to at least have the pretense of doing something productive.

But while I was out and about, there was one problem with my new body which I found particularly unsettling. Specifically, it was the way that guys were looking at me now. I definitely wasn't bad to look at so had no doubt as to what was on some of their mind. I tried my best to ignore it but doubted that I would ever get used to it.

I had been wandering around downtown for a good hour or so when I suddenly realized that someone was following me. I'd seen the guy several times, though I hadn't really paid it much attention. But this time, it dawned on me that I had seen him before...about four times before.

"What the...?" I blinked in surprise.

The man that I thought might be following me is one that I'd nearly run into while coming out of one shop. I'd noticed him several other times as well, though only vaguely and not enough to really remember. Of course I couldn't be certain that he really was following me, but it did seem a bit suspicious.

Since I wasn't sure whether I was really being followed or just being paranoid, which seemed like a real enough possibility considering all the stress I'd been through, I decided to find out for sure. I turned and walked into a shop without notice, then watched through the window as my follower stopped in front of it and stared at the door that I had just gone through.

"Well I'll be," I muttered, frowning as I saw him take out a cell phone and make a call. He hung up after a moment and continued to wait around in front of the shop, trying not to look too obvious. But now that I knew who to look for, it was pretty obvious that he was indeed following me for some reason.

In a way, I felt a little relieved to know that I hadn't just been imagining things, though that didn't really help me any. In fact, I felt even more nervous and worried, and I couldn't very well call the cops and tell them that I was being stalked, especially since I was a legal non-entity and it would attract too much attention.

Now that I knew who to look for, I realized that the guy looked vaguely familiar, though I couldn't place where from. He sure as hell wasn't one of my former co-workers or neighbors, and even if he had been, how could he recognize me. Of course he could be like Nancy, someone who recognized my charachter from the game, but I rather doubted that.

I frowned intensely, not knowing what to do about my stalker, only that I couldn't stay in that shop all day. Then I decided that I was going to have to lose him... Since I knew that he was following me and he didn't know that I knew, that sort of gave me the edge... Then I smiled faintly, feeling almost like I was in some kind of spy movie.

After a minute, I left the shop, wearing a fake smile and trying to pretend like nothing was wrong. And as I had expected, my stalker followed me, staying far enough back where he woudn't think I'd notice, yet close enough so that he could keep a good eye on me.

"Probably some freak with a thing about blue hair," I muttered to myself, knowing that even if I had normal colored hair that I would still have a pretty striking appearance.

I had gone about another half block and was about to make my move to lose him, when suddenly a car pulled up in front of me, even running up onto the sidewalk and nearly hitting someone. I jumped back, even as a half dozen guys started to jump out of the car.

A couple of the men who had jumped out of the car looked pretty familiar too, and only then did I realize exactly where I had seen the man following me before. He had been one of the guys who'd tried snatching my bags at the mall several days earlier. These were some of the guys that I'd faught...

"There's that blue haired bitch," one of the men snarled.

It was only then that I noticed two more things. The first was that I had two more guys coming around behind me, along with the one who'd followed me... And the second was that they were all armed. Several knives appeared and it was obvious that they were intended for me.

"Not good," I grimaced, taking a step back and realizing that just about everyone nearby who wasn't involved was running way.

Obviously no one wanted to be involved in what was happening, and I couldn't very well blame them. I only hoped that someone had the thought to call the police, and that they could arrive in time to help me.

I was just bracing myself to deal with the men in front of me when I suddenly heard a loud bang...and simultaneously felt something tear into my side. I screamed in pain and dropped to the ground, realizing that someone had just shot me from behind...

"Fucking bitch," the man with the gun grinned, "This will teach your martial arts ass not to fuck with us..."

I could only grimace and roll around the ground in pain. The man with the gun just stood back and glared at me, no longer even aiming it at me. He obviously no longer had to. I only wondered whether they were going to just leave me that way to bleed to death, or if they were going to use their knives to finish the job. I didn't know which of those fates would be worse.

But then I suddenly remembered something... I acted more on some survival instinct than anything else, but I closed my eyes and felt the chi energy which flowed through me. It burned inside with a warmth and power, filling some limited yet still large reservoire... And then I activated it...my 'second wind' technique...

Suddenly my chi reservoire emptied, with the energy flooding through my body in an entirely different way. I gasped as it rushed through my veins and muscles...and as it burned into my injury. I could feel the gunshot healing and vanishing in just mere moments, leaving me filled with a nearly overwhelming feeling of health and vitality.

I jumped to my feet, realizing that the world around me almost seemed to be moving in slow motion. I felt...supercharged. At least that seemed to be the only way to describe it... I felt stronger, faster, more energized...almost hyper. This was obviously the side effect from my 'second wind' technique, which had not only healed Kestra in the game but transferred her remaining chi points into a short burst of extra physical power... And there I was, experiencing it all first hand.

Of course I didn't have time to just stand there and marvel at my new abilities and just how good I felt. Instead, I lashed out, kicking one of my attackers in the face, then spinning and catching two more.

"Gotcha," I snarled, punching another man in the gut. The fact that he was armed with a knife didn't really even slow me down.

Since I had already used my 'second wind' technique, I couldn't use any other chi abilities. But then again, I didn't need them. I was stronger, faster and a hell of a lot more skilled than any of these jokes who were attacking me. Of course that didn't mean that I was about to relax and take it easy on them. Not after they way that they had ambushed me and shot me from behind.

The man with the gun, the one who had shot me from behind was taking aim and ready to shoot again. I reached out with my hand and grabbed the gun, using enough force so that it was no longer pointed at me. There was a click as he pulled the trigger, but no shot was actually fired. The gun might not have been pointed at me right then, but I still felt a surge of relief.

Just a moment later, I snatched the gun right out of the man's hand. He stared at me in surprise, especially when I quickly pointed the gun at him. Then I raised the barrel just a little and went to fire a warning shot, hoping that this would scare my attackers away. However, when I pulled the trigger it only had an empty click as well.

The gun obviously didn't work at the moment, but it sure as hell had a minute earlier. Then for a brief second, a thought flashed through my mind. Perhaps whatever it was about my body that kept electronics from working right also had the same effect on the gun... But it didn't really matter so I didn't waste much thought on the question at the moment.

"I owe you one," I snarled, simultaneously dropping the gun and punching the man who had shot me. There was a satisfying crunch, and I satisfied myself even more by kicking him in the stomach and sending him flying into the side of a wall. He might very well need some hospital time after that, but I sure as hell didn't feel any guilt about it.

It was around this time that I reallized just how slow, weak and clumbsy my attackers were compared to me. Even with their weopons, none of them was really any threat to me. That didn't mean that I was going to just let them all go though. Instead, I used them to try out my new abilities on. For the most part, that just meant that I was showing off and playing with them.

To start off with, I started to stagger around a bit to look more tired and weak, to make myself look like a more appealing target to these men that I already had on the verge of running off. It wouldn't be any fun if my playthings ran off before I was finished playing... Then I played defense for a bit, backing up and letting them think that they had me right where they wanted me.

One man came at me with a baseball bat, which he'd apparently pulled out of the car while I was distracted. He'd swing it at me and I'd dodge it, avoiding the hit. I would change positions and back up, pretending that I was scared. Then when he swung it again, I bent over backwards, shifting my position into a backwards roll along the ground, where I suddenly stopped and sprank forward, hitting him hard enough to send him flying.

"Next," I grinned, getting two of them to charge at me at once. And since one of them had a broken nose and the other was missing several teeth, it looked like these were ones that I'd already dealt with. But that didn't stop me from taking care of them again, this time with just a little more force.

While I was playing with them, I waited for all of those who were still standing to charge me at once. And as soon as they were close enough, I jumped up and did a flip over their heads, landing on the roof of their car. Then I hopped off the other side and let them run around towards me again.

Around this time however, I realized that the extra surge of energy that I'd gotten from the 'second wind' had pretty much worn off. I was back to my more or less normal levels of abilities, which were still more than enough to deal with those guys. However, I was getting bored with the fight...and more importantly, worried that the cops might show up at any moment. Now that I wasn't in any danger from my attackers, I didn't want any police involvement.

When the men came at me again, I decided that I'd had enough with the playing around. I ignored their yells and insults at me, focusing instead on kicking their asses. And once I put my mind back onto doing just that, it was a surprisingly fast process. Within mere seconds the rest of them were all collapsed on the ground, moaning in pain.

"Bruises and broken bones," I spat at one of them, "You're lucky that's all I did to you..."

I felt surprisingly satisfied to have cut lookse and kicked their asses like that. I know that I shouldn't have, especially as I'd never been a violent person before in my life. But it sure had been a good way to work out all of my frustrations, and without any guilt at that. What more could someone ask for?

"I got some excercise," I pointed out to myself, "And I got a chance to cut loose and see what this body could do..."

I couldn't help feeling rather proud of myself for just how easily I had handled the situation. It still amazed me that ME, a guy who had been a computer geek just a week before was able to beat the crap out of so many armed guys...all at once. It was definitely a boost to my ego and made me feel a bit better about my whole situation.

Then just as I was turning to leave and get away from there, someone called out, "Hey you... You with the blue hair..."

"What?" I turned and braced myself for another attack.

However, instead of an attack, there was a man who looked to be in his late thirties and who was dressed in a sports jacket and baseball cap. He slowly came towards me, obviously trying hard NOT to look threatening.

"I caught the last half of the fight. Impressive display," he commented as he got close. Then he asked, "How would you like to put those skills to work and make a bit of money?"

"What?" I blinked in surprise.

Just then I heard the police sirens. The man suddenly looked a bit more impatient.

"If you're interested, call this number." He handed me a business card and added, "Tell them Stan sent you..." And with that, he turned and hurried off, disappearing into the crowd that was beginning to gether.

For a moment, I just stood there, staring at the business card in surprise. That whole day was getting weirder and weirder... But then, I looked up and decided to take a lesson from that Stan charachter...and get out of there before the cops showed up and started asking questions that I couldn't answer.

Kombat Champion
Part 5 of 16
By Morpheus

I carefully stared at the business card in my hand, running my fingers over it just as I had been for the last day. When that Stan guy had given me the card, saying that it could help me earn some money, he hadn't given a lot of details and the card itself wasn't much help either. Other than the gold border, the only things written on the card were a name and phone number.

" Beauchamp Meeks," I read the name...if it really was a name.

There was no business title, no address...and not even a mention of what company this might be in regards to. It was pretty damn mysterious, which was why all I'd done with the card for the last day was stare at it.

"Are you going to call that number or not?" Nancy asked me, looking a little annoyed at my indecision.

After a moment, I nodded. It wouldn't hurt to at least call the number and try getting a bit more information. But I guess a part of my problem was that I was afraid that it would turn out to be a waste of my time and I didn't want to get my hopes up. And what if it turned out to be some pimp thinking that I'd make a great hooker... That would be a definite NO, no matter how much I might need money.

I made the call, though afterwards I wasn't much more enlightened than before. The guy on the other end hadn't been willing to give me any details, though he did set me up with an appointment to meet up with a Mr. Meeks in just a few hours.

"Well," Nancy asked almost before I'd hung up, "What did they say..."

"It looks like I have a job interview," I told her.

"Do you want me to come along too," she asked.

"No," I shook my head, "I have a feeling that I'm supposed to show up alone..."

Nancy nodded, "Well be careful... This just sounds kind of weird."

"Don't worry," I told her with a grin, "I can take care of myself..."

A short while later, I was back downtown, going to the small office building that I had been told to. It was easy pretty to find, as was the specific office that they had given me.

When I went inside the office, I saw that there where three people inside there waiting for me. One was a large man who was sitting off to the side on a couch, looking as though he might be some sort of bodyguard. There was an attractive woman as well, who was perhaps a secretary. She was standing beside the person who really caught my attention though, the man behind the desk.

The man who was sitting behind the desk looked fairly large...and strong. He was dressed in a grey suit and had reddish brown hair and beard, both of which had a few grey hairs. And on the desk itself was a name plate which said Beauchamp Meeks.

"Mister Meeks?" I cautiously asked the man behind the desk.

"Yes," he stood up, "And your name is?"

"Kestra," I answered, having no other name to give him at the moment.

Mr. Meeks remained silently for a moment as if waiting for me to give him a last name or something more. But when I didn't, he nodded, "I was told to expect your call, though I was not given your name."

"Stan said something about using my skills to make some money if I called," I said carefully, feeling pretty suspicious. I was on edge and ready to run or fight at a moment's notice. I had no idea just what I was getting myself into and wanted to be ready...just in case.

"My associate...Stanley is quite adept at recognizing talent," Mr. Meeks told me with a smile, "So when he tells me that you are a skilled fighter, I am inclined to believe him. You see, I am in the business of locating talented fighters for certain competitions... And I will be honest with you in saying these these competitions are not precisely legal."

I had seen enough movies to have an idea of just what kind of competitions he meant. "You mean underground fighting..." There was a nod at that, "Fights to the death..."

Suddenly Mr. Meeks burst out laughing, "Nothing so violent or final..."

I frowned, watching him and the man on the couch even more suspicously now. But that didn't seem to bother either of them at all. In fact, they seemed almost relaxed and unconcerned.

"Let me explain," Mr. Meeks told me, "These competitions are not of the lethal sort. If they were, we would not be able to recruit any fighters... We just prefer to avoid the heavy rules and regulations of the more official organizations as well as maintaining an atmosphere where open gambling is not only accepted but encouraged. These factors provide an illicit thrill which most of our audience enjoy."

"People like doing things that they know they shouldn't," the man on the couch whom I was still thinking of as a bodyguard commented. "Especially if they know it don't hurt no one... It's sort of like smoking a joint or going to one of those old speakeasys that they used to have. It's knowing that you shouldn't be doing it which makes it so exciting..."

"Precisely," Meeks told me with a smile. "In fact, I used to be a fighter myself...back in my younger days. But I earned enough money to retire from the ring and started a second career as an organizer..."

I had to admit that the speil that Meeks was giving me wasn't a bad one. He didn't really come off as the gangster type which I had first taken him for. Or at least he didn't come off as some sort of dangerous and threatening ganster type.

"I don't know," I said with a frown.

When I had gone out looking for a job, I hadn't thought to look for one as a fighter...especially not in some sort of underground fights. But I did need the money and I had to admit that it would defintiely be under the table enough for my needs and I doubted that they would ask too many questions. And there was one other factor which suddenly became more important... After the fight with those punks, I was getting the urge to try out my new body and skills some more... I wanted to see what I could do...to cut loose and really find out.

"This could be just what I need," I said, more to myself than to Meeks. Then I looked at him, "But I'm still not sure..."

Mr. Meeks nodded at that. "Fair enough. Why don't you come with us tomorrow night and see what it's all about for yourself? And if you decide that this is something that you would be interested in, we can sign you up to fight next week..."

"It pays good," the man on the couch said, making me wonder if he might be one of the fighters rather than a bodyguard.

I looked back to Meeks, who said, "You get a cut of the box just for fighting and you get more for winning. The amounts vary, depending upon your opponent and size of the audience."

After a moment, I nodded my agreement. "Okay, I'll check it out tomorrow..."

I felt nervous and excited at the same time and could barely believe that I had just agreed to go to an underground fight. I'd always been a nice law abiding sort, so this was something new for me. Of course, going to the fight would be nothing compared to actually competing in it, which I was actually considering.

"Then meet me here tomorrow night at eight," Meeks told me with a smile, "and we shall go there together..."

Once I had agreed to that, I left the office, still feeling a bit surprised at myself. Fighting people and doing things like this were so out of charachter...at least for the old me. But they seemed to be getting easier and easier for the new me. Had the lightning somehow changed my personality a bit along with my body? Or more likely, were my new body and abilities merely opening my eyes to a world beyond what I was used to...and making me reevaluate the world and my own place in it?

--------------------

"Are you sure that's a good idea," Nancy asked me, probably for the third or fourth time since I had told her about my going to the underground fight. "It could be dangerous..."

"I'll be fine," I assured her with a smile, "They only want to show me around right now... And besides, I can take care of myself..." I pulled out one of my katars to emphasize the point.

Nancy frowned, "Maybe I should come with you..."

"Not this time," I told her, "Just in case... If anything goes wrong, I can take care of myself... But you..."

"I know," Nancy sighed, giving me a weak smile, "But I had been kind of hoping to see one of these fights..."

"Yeah," I grinned, "They should be pretty interesting..."

For a moment, Nancy just stared at me with a strange expression, then she just let out a sigh. I knew that she was a bit worried about me, and disappointed that she couldn't go to the fights too. However, I knew that it was a bit more than that. I'd seen that look on her face several times and knew that she was somewhat envious of me. She was probably wondering why I had been struck by lighting and transformed instead of her... It had to be weird for her, knowing that I had been turned into Kestra, gaining all of her skills and abilities. And I had little doubt that Nancy was wondering what it would have been like if she'd been the one hit by the lightning and if she had turned into Vypra.

"I wonder what it would be like," Nancy sighed, verifying my suspicions about her thoughts. "I wonder what it would be like to be able to do those kind of things you do..."

"It is pretty cool," I grinned at her. But then in a more sober tone, I told her, "But it comes at too high a price..."

Nancy just nodded while I thought about everything that I had abandonned and left behind. My old life might not have been impressive, but it had been my life. Even my family, as broken and messed up as it was, had still been the only family I'd ever known. Now I didn't even have one.

Just then, Nancy's husband Tom came into the room so we had to abruptly change the subject. "And did you hear about the new summer fashion?" I gasped to Nancy in mock excitment, knowing that the subjects of fashion and clothes were sure to keep Tom away from us while we talked.

Tom was a pretty nice guy, not to mention generous. He had to be just to let me move into this spare bedroom when he'd never even met me. But I was also a bit afraid that he might be just a little too nieve and gullible. Someone else could defintely end up taking advantage of his generosity if it wasn't for Nancy watching his back.

"Just wanting to see if you ladies are doing all right," Tom told us.

"We're doing fine," Nancy smiled. "We're just talking about where Kes can try applying for a job next..."

"Okay," Tom nodded, then started to turn away. But he paused to turn back and give me a thoughtful look. "You know, you might have better luck if you dyed your hair something a little less...unique. Most employers are going to hesitate to hire someone with blue hair..."

"I've been thinking about it," I told him honestly, "But having blue hair has kind of grown on me..."

Nancy snickered at that, trying to hide the fact that she was doing so from Tom. I just smiled innocently, knowing that he was just trying to be helpful. Unfortunately, following his suggestion wouldn't do me much good as I had already found out that normal hair dye just didn't stick with my hair. As soon as I washed my hair, it came right out. So unless I wanted to dye my hair every day, that just wasn't an option.

"Besides," I told him as I got up, "I have a job interview tonight..."

"Really?" he smiled, "Good luck then..."

"Thanks," I told him with a grin. Since I was going to an underground fight, even if not to fight, I might very well need it.

Once Tom had left, I returned to talking with Nancy who wished me luck as well. But since she at least knew where I was really going, her wishes of good luck had a whole lot more emphasis on them.

When I met Mr. Meeks in his office a short time later, he seemed to be in a pretty good mood. The first thing that he did was offer me a glass of wine before we took off for the fights. I turned him down, wanting to keep my head clear for the moment. And besides, I still wasn't completely sure that something might not end up being slipped into my drink...

"Then let's get going, shall we...," Meeks smiled, downing his own glass of wine in a single drink.

Since I was the guest and had no idea where we were actually going, Mr. Meeks was the one to drive. Or more accurately, his limo driver was the one to drive us there. She was the same beautiful woman that I'd seen standing behind him during our first meeting. And according to Meeks, she also served as his seretary and personal assistent as well, which explained her presense before.

"There are very few that I trust as much," Mr. Meeks had told me of her.

Our destination turned out to be on the other side of the city and in a much nicer building than I would have imagined for an underground fighting competition. Hell, it even had a parking garage attatched. Of course, it was used for other kinds of events during the day, ones which were a bit more legal. And when I asked, Meeks told me that it was used for boxing and martial arts tournaments.

"Very appropriate," I told him.

There was a man at the entrance who was checking people to make sure that they were on the list. And apparently he recognized Meeks because with just one glance at him, he let all of us through without question. Then there was a bit of a lobby, where there was a bar and snack vendor set up, though no one seemed to pay anything other than tips.

"It reminds me of a circus," I commented, "Or a movie theater..."

"They are all entertainment events," Meeks told me, "Though some prefer a little more edge and realism to their entertainment..."

Then we got to the main area, which was a big area with a lot of seats and booths, and which looked down upon the fighting arena. It was something like a boxing ring...but about three times the size and with a padded floor.

And of course there was the audience, most of which were dressed somewhat nicer than I would have imagined. There were some expensive looking suits and fancy dresses, revealing that a good portion of the audience was at least in the upper middle class or highter. But there was another section, with a somewhat less impressive view, where other people with less money were gathered. I could hear people calling out bets to one another.

"My booth is this way," Meeks told me, leading me to one part which looked almost directly down on the ring. It was one of the best seat areas in the house, and I could see several similarly placed booths around the edge as well. Apparently Meeks had a slightly higher position in this thing than I'd first thought.

Once we were sitting down, several people came by and talked to Meeks for a minute or so each. They seemed to be mostly sharing notes and observations about specific fighters, or making a few bets. But one of the people who came by was Stan, the man who had handed me the business card after my fight.

"Hey," Stan nodded towards me, then told Meeks, "Have you seen her fight yet? Man, she can kick some serious ass..."

"Not yet," Meeks told him with a patient smile. "And do not worry... If she does agree to fight and is as talented as you say, you will get your finders fee..."

"Thanks boss," Stan grinned before turning to leave.

It was at this point that the first fight started. A couple of men came out onto the arena floor and took positions in opposite corners of the ring. And to my surprise, both fighters had on padding, including padding for their knuckles. If hadn't known better, I would have thought that this was more like a normal fight...

Then the fighters went after each other and I quickly realized that this was not a normal fight. There was a referree of sorts, but he stood back out of the arena and didn't interfere. Apparently his job was only to make sure that there was no cheating or to stop things if they got out of hand. There were no rounds and the fighters were just to keep going until one of them lost.

"They're pretty good," I commented, watching the two men below fight it out.

They were using completely different syles, with one doing a whole lot of kicking...in what I guessed had to be some sort of kickboxing, while the other one kept staying low, charging forward and punching...using his fists, elbows and knees a great deal. The fight lasted for about fifteen minutes before the kickboxer lost. His opponent had gotten through his defences several times and hit him with a barrage of close range blows...enough to knock him to the ground and the referee to finally step in and call the victory.

After a several minute break, they were ready to start the next fight. This time it was some large man who almost looked like he could have been a sumo wrestler...against a much smaller opponent. In fact, the sumo's opponent was a bald woman who's body seemed to be covered with tattoos. There was no way this could be a fair fight...

At my look of amazement, Meeks explained, "Most official organizations have strict rules about fighters being in the same weight class or against them being opposite gender..." He smiled, "I find that removing those particular rules can make for more interesting matches..."

Like most of the audience, I had been expecting the big sumo guy to win easily. He was obviously much bigger and stronger than her, and when he moved, he seemed to be a bit faster than I would have given him credit for. However, she was fast as well...and apparently stronger. She jumped up, kicked him in the face and knocked him back a couple steps. Then she hit the ground and rolled back, repeating the process whenever she thought he was open. But after several attacks like this, he finally caught her and got a grip on her, making me think that it was all over.

"I guess it's over," I said.

But to my surprise, the woman lashed out with her free hand and caught the big guy in the face, causing him to drop her. She moved around behind him and then jumped up, grabbing him around the throat. He staggered around, but she had a sleeper hold on him and wasn't about to let him go. It suddenly reminded me of that movie The Princess Bride, where the hero was dressed up as Zorro and fighting Andre the Giant in about the same way. I was kind guessing that she'd seen that movie too...

Once the big guy had dropped to his knees and started hitting the floor with his hand in what was their version of crying 'uncle', the fight was over. The bald woman with all of the tattoos was declared the winner.

"I would have thought you would know better than to judge a fighter by their appearance,"
Meeks smiled at me, apparently amused that I'd underestimated the woman just like everyone else. Or at least like nearly everyone else since it turned out that he had bet on her and had won a good bit of money from that fight.

The next fight had the man that I'd seen sitting on the couch in Meeks' office when I had first gone in. He was fighting against a man who looked like a pretty even match, and he ended up winning...though just barely. Meeks was obviously pleased by the victory, apparently because he had sponsored that fighter and whenever a fighter he sponsored won...he would get a good bit of money...as well as bragging rights.

By this time, I was really getting into the fighting. It wasn't nearly as vicious and brutal as I had feared, at least not much more than normal fighting competition would be. It was almost like watching the Ultimate Fighting Championships... and the whole thing almost made me feel like I was in the Kombat Champions game, watching one of the tournaments. It was...exciting.

And by the time that the fifth and final fight was over, I had already made up my mind. I was in. I was going to fight.

--------------------

"ARE YOU INSANE?" Nancy demanded of me when I told her about my decision the next morning.

"It's not that bad," I told her."

However, Nancy wasn't about to be settled down that easily. She was obviously worried about me and blurted out, "Illegal underground fighting? You could get in a lot of trouble...and it's dangerous."

"It's not that bad," I tried telling her again, rolling my eyes slightly. It was funny how protective of me she was acting, and also kind of touching. It meant that she really did care about me.

"You could get hurt," she pointed out.

"Maybe," I frowned thoughtfully, "But you didn't see what my 'second wind' ability can do in real life... If I get hurt, all I have to do is use that and I'll be fine again..." Then I took a deep breath, "And I watched a couple fights last night... They're good...but not as good as me. I can beat everyone they had there... It'll be easy money..."

Of course, I didn't tell her that I wanted to cut loose, to try out my abilities and see just what else my new body could do. I wasn' t sure that she could understand that though. Hell, I barely understood it myself.

"But it's Illegal," Nancy pointed out, "As in you could end up in jail."

"I know," I sighed, "And I'm definitely not thrilled about that part of it. But from what I've seen, this is a big operation. A lot of people have been involved in this for a long time. They've even got it going on in other cities and they send fighters back and forth... And apparently, they're really good about keeping the cops from getting near things."

Then I let out a long sigh. "Besides," I told her, "It's not like I'm going to make a career out of fighting or anything. The fact is, I need the money and this way I can get it. It's not like I'm robbing anyone or doing anything like that... I figure that I can win a few fights and earn a bit of money this way until I find something better..."

Nancy just stared at me for a few seconds before nodding, "Okay... Just be careful..."

"I will," I promised her.

"And one more thing," she told me with a stern look which turned into a bit of a grin, "You have to get me in to watch some of your fights..."

"No problem," I grinned at her, "You can be my first cheerleader..." She stuck her tongue out at me at that, then we both started to laugh.

Kombat Champion
Part 6 of 16
By Morpheus

I closed my eyes and moaned, my body squirming on the bed. Then a gasp slipped from my lips as I drove my fingers further into my body, savoring the intense sensations which came from my new sex.

"Oh yes," I moaned, licking my lips and using my free hand to play around with one of my nipples. "Damn this feels good..."

And as I lay on my bed masturbating, fingering myself into orgasm, I couldn't help wondering why I hadn't tried playing with myself earlier. It felt so good...better than it ever had in my old body and with my old male equipment. Of course I had been pretty self-concoius about my new body and I had been focused on all of the changes to my life...

But several days ago, I had finally given into my curiosity and began exploring my new equipment in detail. At first, all that I had intended to do was familiarize myself with my new vagina a bit more, or at least that was what I told myself. I guess a part of it could have been some sort of twisted thrill at being able to finger a girl all I wanted...and feeling it myself.

However, while I had been checking myself out, my body started to respond...to get aroused. It had felt pretty damn good so I kept at it, feeling the sensations build until they had finally exploded in a mind blowing orgasm. My reticence about my new vagina had pretty much vanished at that point.

"Very nice," I smiled, my eyes still closed as I finally finished 'finger fucking' myself. "I can add that to the growing list of good things about this body..."

The fact was, I was getting a little uncomfortable with just how comfortable I was getting with my body. It was feeling less and less like being a new body and feeling more and more like it was just MY body. I suppose that it was the slow deteriation of my old sense of self...of my old self-identity that was disturbing.

"I might as well take the good along with the bad," I smiled to myself.

Of course, I had already accepted that I was very likely to remain as I was for the rest of my life. I seriously doubted that I would ever be a man again... It was sad...and a hard fact to swallow, but I had little choice except to accept things as they were and move on.

After several minutes of just remaining where I was on the bed and savoring the afterglow of my masturbation, I sat up and smiled. I ran a hand over my breasts and flat stomach, silently thankful that if I'd had to be turned into a woman, that at least I'd been turned into a good looking one.

"And all those martial arts skills are handy too," I reminded myself.

But the mention of my martial arts abilities reminded me of something else. It reminded me of my first fight at the arena which was scheduled for that very night. My emotions went a bit more sober at that for a moment, but I was feeling too good right then to let myself get too serious.

With that I went and threw a silvery white silk robe around my naked body, thankful that I had let Nancy talk me into buying it. In my old life, I'd just wandering around my house in my shorts and that would be fine. But now that I had a new body...and two people who lived in the same house, a robe seemed much more appropriate.

"Good think that there's no one else home," I grinned as I left my own room, tying the sash around my waist.

Both Tom and Nancy were gone at the moment, having gone to work. And it was a good thing that they had or they could very well have heard me in my little...release. Hell, I wouldn't have dared play with myself like that if either of them had been home.

A few seconds later, I turned to look at the TV, frowning slightly. Their TV was a good deal smaller than my own had been, making me miss my own and regret the need for leaving it yet again. I think that my TV was one of the things that I missed most from my apartment.

"Oh well," I sighed, grabbing the remote and pushing the power button. "Oh yeah," I muttered when nothing happened.

I shrugged at that and pushed the power button again, smiling as the TV actually came on this time. I looked down at the remote, thankful that I could use electronics again...though only with a bit of effort.

Over the past week, ever since I had gone to the fighting arena to check it out, I'd had a lot of time on my hands to think. And during that time, I had not only discovered the pleasures that my new body could provide me, but other things which could be quite useful.

"Very useful," I muttered as I put the remote down.

Since I didn't really have anything else to do at the time, I tried figuring out why my touch messed up any electronics that I touched...and apparently guns as well. After a little experimentation as well as some careful thinking, I figured out that I had some sort of invisible aura around my body that came out about an inch or so from my skin. And that aura interferred with anything electronic which got within it.

After I had figured out that it was an aura which was messing with the things that I touched, I had played around...doing a bit of trial and error until I finally figured out how to control it...at least to a degree. If I concentrated, I could pull that invisble aura closer to my body... And once the aura was tight enough...skin tight to be exact, nothing could really get inside of it and be affected. Therefore, I could use electronics and things again...but only as long as I concentrated on keeping my aura close while doing so.

"Annoying," I told myself, "But effective..."

With that, I sat down and watched TV for a few minutes, though I quickly grew bored with that and went to the computer instead. I surfed the internet for a bit as well though couldn't really get into that either. My thoughts kept bouncing...jumping from topic to topic.

I spent a minute just thinking about my little game of grab-ass earlier, about all of the good things that I had gained with my transformation. That was of course followed by the thoughts of all of the bad things...of all that I had lost because of it. I think my gender might have been one of the lesser things that had been lost. And of course, I thought about the fight that I was scheduled to be in that night.

"The fight," I mused aloud, wondering what it was going to be like.

Finally, I let out a long sigh. I still had a good while to go yet before I had to be at the arena, but I decided that it was about time that I started to get ready anyway. And with that, I stripped off my robe and moved to the middle of the floor to begin my stretches. If nothing else, the warm-up might help me get into the right mindset for the fight, because I sure as hell didn't intend to lose my first one.

--------------------

I was backstage at the fighting arena, taking my time as I got ready. It was going to be my first fight...at least my first professional fight, and I was feeling both nervous and excited at the same time. Whoever would have thought that in just two weeks, I would have gone from being a male computer salesman to a female professional fighter. It was almost too strange to believe.

There were a number of other fighters wandering around as well, each of them getting ready for the fights in their own way. I couldn't help noticing than some of them were going with various themes and styles, almost like the players in Kombat Champions. It almost made me feel nostolgic.

One guy was dressed up in black leather, with chains and studs, looking like some kind of biker from hell. However, I caught him cracking a smile and joking with someone else a short time earlier, which kind of ruined his mean image...even after he went back to being in charachter.

Of course there were others as well, some of which didn't bother with anything too exotic. These types of fighters seemed to focus more on just being the best fighters they could be, without worrying as much about their image or fans.

Since it was going to be my first fight, I had thought that I would come dressed appropriately. I was wearing the violet costume with blue and white trim which had come along with my body. Add that to my blue hair which was tied back in a long pony tail, and I created a somewhat exotic appearance. In fact, I looked like some kind of video game charachter...which wasn't a surprise to me at least.

"I fit right in," I chuckled, glancing at some guy who was busy putting on bodypaint spots to make him look almost like some kind of leopard. It was a cool effect though...

However, I did have one problem in that I didn't know who I was supposed to fight yet. Fortunately, Mr. Meeks came back to check on me before the fight, with Stan trailing along behind him.

"So who am I going to be fighting?" I asked him, feeling impatient and worried since no one had seen fit to inform me.

"I don't know yet," Meeks responded calmly. "Your opponents are selected randomly by drawing names... In fact, the drawing should occur very soon, and then you'll all be notified..."

I nodded at that, "Good," feeling just a bit more relieved that I wasn't being left out of the loop.

"A very impressive outfit," Meeks told me as he looked me over, "It creates quite an image..."

"Totally hot," Stan added with a lusty grin that made me a little uncomfortabale.

"So," I grinned at Meeks, trying to change the subject from my outfit, "Are you putting a nice bet on me?"

"Honestly...no," he responded, giving a faint smile. "As much as I respect Stanley's ability to accurately guage fighting talent, I have yet to see you fight myself. As your sponsor I have already made something of an investment in your fight, but I don't feel comfortable enough to risk anymore as of yet..."

"At least you're honest about it," I told him with a sigh.

"Oh, I do believe that you can fight," Meeks told me. "I just prefer not to wager too much on it just yet..."

It was around this point though that someone blew a loud whistle. I looked around, wondering what was going on until Meeks told me that this meant that they were drawing for opponents. And with a quick nod to him, I followed the rest of the fighters into the corner where someone was pulling out names.

My opponent turned out to be Jack 'the Tiger' Bresado, a decent sized man with shaggy black hair and a body that was ripped with muscle. His outfit consisted of a pair of loose fitting black pants...and black painted tiger stripes on his upper body. And from what I understood, he and the leopard spotted guy were actually brothers.

"The Tiger is gonna kick the little girl's ass," he gave me a threatening glare when our names were announced. "The Tiger is gonna enjoy this..."

I just stared at him for a momen, then turned to the mean looking biker guy standing next to me and asked, "Does he always refer to himself in the third person?"

The biker guy shrugged and responded, "Pretty much..."

I rolled my eyes at that and muttered, "This is going to be interesting..."

It turned out that the Tiger and I were scheduled to fight in the second match, which I didn't think could come soon enough. I had just met the guy and already wanted to kick his ass right then and there.

When it was finally our turn, Jack 'the Tiger' and I went out to the arena floor while someone announced our names to the crowd. I looked around, feeling nervous at having so many people around me...watching my every move. I gulped, suddenly feeling a touch of stage fright.

Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I shouldn't have let myself get distracted because as soon as they hit the bell to start, Jack launched himself straight at me, hitting me with a powerful blow to my face. I went flying and it the ground, already knowing that I was going to have a hell of a bruise from that. But I didn't have time to think about it as it was already kicking me in the ribs.

The crowd went wild in what seemed to be an even mix of cheering the Tiger and booing me. But I knew that I couldn't let that distract me anymore... I had let my surroundings distract me from the start and was paying the price for that.

"The Tiger is gonna tear you apart," he grinned down at me.

However, I was already in motion, kicking his legs and knocking them out from under him. And with a swift motion, I rolled myself back away from him, springing back to my feet, then launching myself back at him. I grabbed his shoulders and flipped myself over him, using the force of my motion to pull him back with me and send him flying to the floor.

The crowd cheered at my move, though I didn't allow myself to get distracted by it. Not again. And when the Tiger jumped back to his feet and came at me, I was easily able to block it...and the next few punches that he threw.

Though I was now a fighter, I didn't really know a whole lot about the martial arts...other than what I'd seen on TV and researched for Kombat Champions. However, I did know enough to figure out that some of what my opponent was using was part tiger style kung fu...or some aproximation of it, and part straight out street fighting. I had to admit that he was faster than I would have guessed...and he hit like a hammer. The side of my face still hurt from his first punch.

However, now that I was grounded and focused, I realized that the Tiger wasn't nearly as fast as I was. Or as skilled. I was able to block and avoid all of his attacks, then return my own, easily getting past his defences. The fight itself was over in just another minute and the crowd was going wild.

"Sloppy start," Stan told me when I left the arena, "But you followed through good..."

I just nodded, not needing to ask where Meeks was. I'd seen him up in his seat watching the fight a minute earlier. "I let myself get distracted," I grimaced, "It won't happen again..."

"Not if you want to get out of here with your teeth intact," Stan shrugged. "But you might want to get some ice on your face... You're gonna be having a real nice bruise tomorrow..." And with that, he hurried off again.

I had already had my fight, but found out that I couldn't just go home right then. They didn't give out the prize money until the end of the night. Of course I could pick it up from my sponsor later on instead, but I didn't think that I truested Meeks enough to hold onto all of my money just yet, so I decided to stick around. If nothing else, I'd get to meet some more of the fighters.

And while I was hanging around back stage, I couldn't help noticing that Stan was sticking close to me. Apparently, since he was the one to 'scout' me as they called it, he felt a personal responsibility to make sure that I got off to a good start. He was even close by to answer any questions that I might have. However, I suspected that another part of his motivation might be that he had some kind of crush on me, which I found rather disturbing.

Then, it suddenly turned out that my night wasn't over quite yet. The bald woman with all of the tattoos that I'd seen the week before came in and glared at me for a moment before exclaiming, "I can take you... I challenge you... A grudge match... Tonight..."

"She means an additional match after the scheduled ones are over," Stan explained, "We usually have one or two challenge matches a week..." He glanced to the woman, "Usually the fighers bet their winnings from that night...but she didn't fight tonight..."

"I'll match your winnings," the woman glared at me, almost as if I'd done something to offend her. "Your winnings so far and I'll match them..."

"Good deal if you win," Stan told me. "But you don't get paid for the match itself, so if you lose..."
"
I walk out of here with nothing," I finished, earning a nod.

My first thought was to tell the woman to fuck off, but I was feeling a bit cocky after winning against the Tiger. I looked at the woman, remembering how she had faught the week before and nodding my agreement.

"The name is Kestra," I introduced myself.

"Sharon Sanwick," she responded coldly before turning and walkin away.

"Does this happen often?" I asked Stan.

"Pretty much," he told me. "Sometimes people like to test the newbie fighters, and then you've got people trying to double their winnings against an easy win..."

"And which am I?" I asked him with a scowl.

Stan gave me a look and shrugged, "Both..."

It took me a moment to realize what Stan meant about me being an easy win. I was not only a newbie and had already made a newbie mistake with my distraction. I had already been in a fight and had a number of good bruises to prove it. Sharon on the other hand had just come in and was nice and fresh, ready to go. She definitely had the advantage as far as that went.

"Just great," I groaned, "And I fell for it..." Stan didn't say anything to that. He didn't have to.

Once the fifth match was over, it was time for Sharon and I to have our match. It was a grudge match...or a challenge match as the terms seemed to be interchangeable. And at the moment, I was ready for it...wanting to prove that I wasn't such an easy mark as she took me for.

As soon as the bell rang, Sharon and I were both at it. We went at it with a series of punches and kicks, each of us effectively blocking and avoiding most of our opponents moves. Then she got back and launched a fast kick to my face, while I ducked down and threw a blinding punch to the unguarded space between her legs. For a guy, that punch would have ended the fight right then and there, but since she was a woman it would probably hurt a good deal but wouldn't actually cripple her.

"You bitch," she hissed, staggering back.

I just held back for a few seconds to let her recover, feeling a bit guilty for that punch. Of course it was perfectly within the rules of that competition and she wasn't a guy so didn't get the full effect, but I still felt a little bad, easily imagining how it would have effected me before my transformation.

Sharon recovered quickly, coming at me again. We went at it with another series of punches and kicks, this time with her not making any high ones which could leave her vulnerable. But that didn't do her any good as I kept getting past her defences. She already had a number of bruises, and when I caught her in the middle of her stomach with a good kick and sent her flying, I knew that I had won the fight.

Once Sharon had gotten to her feet and left the arena, she paused to glare at me for a moment. Then she finally said, "Good fight," before limping away.

"Not bad," Stan told me, "And I like that uppercut..." He cringed as he obviously imagined what such a punch would do to him, "Nasty... Very nasty..."

When I left the building a short time later, it was with a pocket full of cash. I'd earned a thousand dollars from my first fight just from showing up and fighting, and another four thousand from winning it. And add to that the fact that I had doubled my winnings by beating Sharon, and I left with ten thousand dollars more than when I'd arrived.

"Not bad for one nights work," I couldn't help grinning to myself.

--------------------

I stood in front of Nancy's mirror, all dressed up and ready to go out. I was wearing a nice blue dress, a pair of high heels, and I even had makeup and blue fingernail polish on to finish it off. There was no doubt that I was quite a sight, though the truth was that I felt ridiculous.

"How can women stand this stuff?" I couldn't help asking myself. "And how in the world did I ever get myself into this situation?"

When I had told Nancy about my victory and winnings at the arena the night before, she had been ecstatic. She had even insisted that we go out to a fancy resteraunt to celebrate. And of course, I was expected to pay for everything with my winnings...without my even getting a say in the matter.

Since we were going to be going out to a nice resteraunt, I needed clothes that would be appropriate for the situation. And that meant another shopping trip, this time for things that were just a little more fancy, not to mention more expensive.

I frowned as I looked down at my high heels. Fortunately, they weren't nearly as difficult to walk in as I had been afraid. I figured that this was largely due to the fact that my sense of balance had gotten a hell of a lot better since my transformation.

"At least they make my legs look pretty nice," I admitted to myself.

For a moment, I just stood back and looked over my entire body, being forced to admit that I did look pretty damn good. Of course, it wasn't just a nice dress but I also happened to fill it out pretty well which was a large part of it.

Then my attention went to my face... My makeup was all done perfectly, not surprising since I'd had Nancy help me out with it a bit. But what was more interesting to me was the fact that my face didn't show a trace of being bruised.

I had taken a pretty good beating the night before during the fight, when the Tiger had punched me in the face and kicked my ribs. I'd been pretty bruised when I went to bed, and had even woken up with a faint bruise on my face. But by lunch time all traces of my bruises had faded away.

"It looks like I heal pretty well too," I smiled, mentally adding that to the list of good things about my transformation.

But that just reminded me of something else I had discovered just a short while earlier, or at least something that Nancy had pointed out to me while I was getting dressed up and ready. I had been in my current body for two weeks, but the hair on my legs and underarms didn't need shaving... They were just as smooth and hairless as when I had first changed, almost as if I didn't even have any hair folicles in those places. Of course I considered that a good thing as having to shave my legs and underarms was not something that I was eager to do.

"Come on," Nancy said as she stepped into the room, "Let's get going..." Then she paused to smirk, "Some women take forever to get ready..."

"Ha..ha," I responded, rolling my eyes slightly.

"You look very nice," Tom told me as I left the room. He gave me an appreciative look, though not too appreciative as he obviusly didn't want to offend Nancy. In fact, he even glanced at her as if to make sure that he hadn't gone too far with his compliment. I thought that it was kind of funny.

When we arrived at the restaraunt a short time later, I took one look at the menu and paled. "
It's kind of expensive," I told Nancy, never having gone to a place where I had to spend so much for a meal.

"You're rich now," Nancy grinned at me, "You can afford it..." I only grunted at that.

Then after we had ordered and were waiting for the food to arrive, Tom told me, "Congradulations on your new job... What exactly is it that you're doing?"

I frowned slightly at that. "It's not full time, but I'm giving self-defence demonstrations...."

Of course my explanation wasn't completely true, but it wasn't really a lie either. Technically I was giving self-defence demonstrations...at a VERY high level. But I doubted that he would have been all that understanding of me competing in underground martial arts tournaments with what was probably a lot of illegal gambling.

"Does that really pay that well?" he asked in obvious surprise, obviously realizing that my new 'job' paid pretty well.

"I do demonstrations for people with a lot of money," I told him, once again not quite lying.

Tom stared at me for a moment before saying, "Then you must be very good..." He sounded pretty impressed. "How did you get into that kind of thing?"

"Well," I said slowly, "It just kind of happened... I mean, I never really intended to get into martial arts, but one thing lead to another... Trust me, it was kind of a shock for me to realize that I'd suddenly gotten so good..."

"Really?" Tom asked me. "I thought that learning that kind of thing took years..."

"Yeah," I shrugged, not quite comfortable with the direction of the conversation. "I guess it usually does..."

At this point though, I decided that it might be better to have a safer line of discussion...or at least one where I where I wouldn't have to tell one lie after another. So I asked him what he did for a living and found myself listening to a long and detailed explanation about architectural design, which lasted through the rest of the dinner.

When we finally got home several hours later, I had a good deal less money than when we'd left. But I had to admit that I did have fun. I had enjoyed the delicious food and all of the attention that I had gotten, being treated as a woman by Tom and the people at the resteraunt. But mostly, I just enjoyed the company and being out with friends. That was something that I never really had much of in my old life...and never realized how much I had missed it until then.

Kombat Champion
Part 7 of 16
By Morpheus

When I woke up, it was with a faint smile at the memory of the dinner the night before. Even though the meal and new clothes for it had all put a nice dent in my wallet, I was thinking that it had been money well spent.

However, as I sat up in bed, I couldn't resist frowning. I was feeling a bit sick to my stomach or something... But it wasn't quite like a sick stomach... It was different...but still a very unpleasant feeling.

I started to climb out of bed so I could go to the bathroom, when I froze, my eyes going wide. There was a bit of blood on the white sheets, but the real shock of it was where the blood was coming from. It was leaking out of my vagina...

As soon as I saw the blood and where it was coming from, I felt a surge of panic. My first thought was back to my fight with Jack 'the Tiger' and how he had been kicking me in my stomach... He must have hurt me worse than I thought because I was bleeding internally...

But after a moment, my initial surge of panic faded as a calmer reasoning replaced it... If I had been injured enough by the Tiger to have internal bleeding, I not only would have noticed something from it already, but I probably would have already healed from it, at least judging from how fast the bruises had healed. Instead, it dawned on me exactly where the bleeding was coming from and I realized that it could only mean one thing.

"Oh shit," I gasped. "I'm having a period..."

The moment that I said it, I knew that it had to be true. In fact, I had been half expecting it and half dreading it. And now that I was finally having my period, I felt a twinge of relief that at least I knew for a fact that I was going to have one rather than just having to wait and guess.

"Just great," I grimaced bitterly, silently adding that to my list of bad things about my transformation. And it was damn near the top as well.

I remained where I was and let out a long stream of muttered curses, wondering what in the world I had ever done to deserve something like that. Then I finally decided to take care of my problem instead of just complaining about it.

Fortunately, Nancy had already gone over the whole feminine hygiene issue in great detail and had even made me buy whatever items I might need...just in case. At the time I had thought that it was kind of stupid, though now I was thankful. I even had a box of pads already waiting for me...

Once I had taken a bath and cleaned up, I got dressed and put on a pad, feeling disgusted with myself. I felt like I was wearing a diaper, though I realized that it could have been worse. Nancy had given me the option of getting one of those things that would have gone up inside of me instead... I kind of shuddered at the very thought.

When I went out to have breakfast, Nancy asked, "What's wrong?"

For a moment, I just glared at her, then let out a sigh. "You know those feminine hygiene lessons you gave me? Well, they just came in handy..."

"What do you mean?" Nancy asked me with a blank look.

"I'm having my period," I told her with a grimace.

Nancy's eyes went open at that and she slowly responded, "I see..." She gave me a steady look for a moment before telling me, "I don't know whether to offer you my sympathy or my congratulations..."

"Gee...thanks," I responded wryly.

"Well...welcome to the club," Nancy told me. "It's official now... You're a woman..."

"Oh joy," I sighed.

"Don't worry," Nancy tried to reassure me, "It's not so bad once you get used to it..." However, that wasn't exactly very reassuring.

The rest of the day was not a very good experience, nor were the next few days. I had cramps and I was bleeding from someplace that was entirely too personal for my comfort. The only thing that kept me from going insane was the fact that half the world's population went through that every month. And unfortunately, it looked like I would be among them.

However, much to my relief...and Nancy's envy, my period ended after a mere three days. It was over a lot faster than it would be for most normal women, but then again, I wasn't exactly normal. And I had a feeling that the reason my period ended so much faster was due to the same reason that I healed so fast. I just wasn't sure whether to add my short periods to my positive or negative list.

--------------------

Once that whole messy unpleasantness with my body was over, at least for the month, I was able to focus my attention back on adapting to my new life. And that meant fighting since it was currently my only real means of making money. However, I had to admit that I was really looking forward to it as well as it not only let me make a living and try out what I was now capable of, but it was also a great way to get rid of stress.

When I went to the arena for my second time, I was ready for it and didn't make any stupid rookie mistakes. I defeated my opponent with incredible ease, though I conciously made an effort to make it look more difficult for me than it actually was so as to encourage other's to challenge me for a grudge match. It worked as the Tiger's brother...the Leopard challenged me in order to regain his family honor or some such. However, I defeated him with ease and walked out at the end of the night with only a little less than I had made the week before.

It was only a few days after my second match that Mr. Meeks contacted me with an offer of an extra fight... It turned out that there were similar arenas and fights in other cities, and that they traded fighters with each other to keep things exciting and new for both the fighters and the audience. And he wanted me to fly over for a match the next day.

Unfortunately, I immediately realized that I'd never be able to get onto a place without any identification so I would have to drive instead. Or at least find some other form of transportation.

But at least Meeks was undestanding about my little problem and had even offered to put me in contact with some people who could help me with it. Of course, that would come at a price... I would have to pay just about everything that I had won already, and a bit more. But considering my lack of legal identity, I thought that it just might be worth it.

The new location that I was sent to was pretty much like the old arena. Sure there were different fighters there, the rules were a bit different and they had a larger ring, but there were a lot of similarities as well. I quckly beat the first oppnent that they had matched me up against, then took my time with the second one so as to give a better show. And by the time I left for home, I had a decent chunk of change in my pocket.

And then finally, I came to my third match at what was my home arena. It had been a whole month since I had been so inexplicably transformed and I knew that I was losing touch with my old life and old self. But that didn't matter so much in the arena. In the arena...in the fights, I could cut loose and not have to worry about any of that. In the fights, I was the king...queen of the ring. My past didn't matter...even to me. All that matted was the thrill of using my new skills.

I was feeling pretty excited as I sat in the back area, waiting for them to draw names for opponents. Of course I knew that no one there could beat me... I'd watched them all fight and knew that none of them could match my speed and power, and that was without taking any of my chi abilities into account. Whomever they matched me against, it would be easy money.

"This is going to be interesting," I mused to myself, especially since Nancy had come for the first time. I was determined to take it slow and easy with my opponent so as to give her a good show. If I beat him...or her too quickly... Well, I'd learned that the audience didn't really appreciate that much.

Then I looked down at my usual fighting costume, smiling as I did so. I hadn't washed the thing once since I had suddenly found myself wearing it after my transfomation. But of course, I didn't need to wash it. I had noticed that it never seemed to really get dirty or stained. It never seemed to have any hint of body odor either. In fact, every time I put those clothes on, they were just as clean as if I had just taken them out of the wash.

"It looks like this body isn't the only one with special abilities," I mused to myself, thinking that this would certainly make my cleaning bill a lot smaller.

"Hey Kestra," someone called from the side.

"Yeah," I responded, looking up to see Stan coming towards me. He was holding something in his hands...

Stan shrugged, "I've got something for you..." He handed me a thick folder that was tied shut, saying, "The boss said that you'd know what it was..."

"Thanks," I told him, quickly opening the folder.

I stared at the contents for just a moment before smiling. There was a drivers license, social security card and birth certificate, all issued in the name of Karen Tracy Roads. The name Kestra would have been a bit too out of the ordinary so I had decided to let people just assume that it was a stage name or nickname. And what mattered wasn't so much the name on the documents, but the fact that I now had the documents themselves.

"Not bad," I mused, noticing that they all looked perfectly real and authentic.

Of course, I reminded myself, they had better look pretty damn authentic. They had cost me enough. In fact, they had cost me just about all of my previous winnings that I had left, and I'd had to borrow a little bit more from Mr. Meeks to finish the payment off. Now I owed him...including interest, and I couldn't afford to lose my next fight or two. But at least I didn't think that this would be much of a problem.

"Tell Meeks," I looked at Stan, "I'll get him what I owe him pretty soon..."

And as Stan rushed off to deliver that message, I put my new documents into my locker, feeling rather pleased with myself. With those, I wouldn't really have to keep fighting in thos underground fights... Of course, I reminded myself, I would need to keep fighting long enough to earn enough to start with...and that might take me a couple of months. I figured that I could live with it that long.

Just a few minutes later, I was heading out to the arena floor for my fight...the first one of the night. I was excited at the chance of fighting again, but just a little nervous as well. My opponent was someone who had come in from another city for the night and whom I had never met. In fact, I didn't know anything about him.

I had just stepped into the arena and readied myself, when I saw my opponent and froze... My eyes widened and my heart nearly skipped a beat at the sight... It wasn't that my opponent was big and scary, or anything else of the kind. The fact was, he looked familiar. Too damn famiar.

My opponent stood on the opposite side of the arena, a pretty average sized man who was wearing a yellow ninja costume. It was outlandish, but I recognized it from the game...from Kombat Champions...

"For our next fight," the announcer said overhead, "Pi versus Kestra...."

The announcer had pronounced his name like pie rather than pee...but there was no doubt in my mind as to who this was. My opponent was Pi the Yellow Snow, the obnoxious ice elemental fighter from the game. Or at least it was someone who looked a whole lot like him.

But before I could think things through, the bell rang and the fight was officially started. Pi immediately came at me with a series of blinding punches that I was only barely able to block. He was fast...faster than anyone else that I had run into in the arena. And he followed the punches with a swift kick that caught me in the side.

"You're pretty hot looking," Pi told me. I couldn't see his face through the ninja mask, but I knew that he was smirking. "I'll try to beat you quick so we can go out and have some fun together..."

I grimaced, then went at him with a series of my own punches and kicks. Most of them got through his defences, though none did as much damage as I had hoped. Still, I had impressed upon him the fact that I was a serious fighter... On the other hand, that might not be a good thing as he wouldn't be as likely to understimate me and let down his guard.

Pi and I both went at each other and I knew that I couldn't go as easy with him as I had with the others. He was faster than he looked and stronger. I wasn't about to make the mistake of underestimating him, even if he did keep making suggestive comments to me as we faught. I damn near screamed at him when he called me a 'blue haired whore'.

And then, Pi performed an impossible move, jumping up high into the air and then coming down straight at me with his foot extended in a powerful flying kick. It was a move that no normal fighter would ever be able to perform..at least not in the real world. But I had seen that move before...in the game.

I blocked Pi's kick, but the force of it sent me flying back. I hit the ground painfully, then rolled and sprang back to my feet. He laughed and tried that flying kick again, though this time I dodged to the side instead and punched him, causing him to collapse to the floor.

At this point, it was pretty obvious that Pi was getting pissed off. I'd been taking everything he threw at me and sending bacy more of my own. And it was obviously used to being the best fighter in the ring. He glared at me, tore the mask from his face and revealed a dark haired man.

Then he snarled, "You think you're hot stuff... Well maybe this will cool you off..."

Pi suddenly extended his hands, and a powerful burst of yellow water shot out of them and hit me right in the chest, sending me flying halfway across the arena until I hit the wall. The blast had come so fast that I hadn't been expecting it, though fortunately it hadn't done much damage. Still, it had thrown me off my game and sent me flying away.

If there had been any doubts at all as to my opponent's identity, they were now gone. That kind of water blast move could only be used in the game...or by someone like me who could perform that kind of game move.

The aundience was gasping in shock at that water blast that Pi had sent at me, and he was obvioiusly eating it all up... He bowed to the aundienc with a big grin on his face, making me realize that he loved the attention. Just like in the game...

However, Pi obviously wasn't finished with his fancy moves just yet. Fueled by the success of that move, and the audiences reaction, he let loose with more. He fired a wave of yellow enery at me from his hands. And from the game, I knew that if this wave hit me, it would freeze me where I was for several seconds. Fortunately I was able to jump out of the way.

"Pi the Yellow Snow," I snarled at him, "You are going down..."

He stared at me with a look of surprise, "How do you know my title...?"

But he apparently decided that it wasn't worth worrying about because he sent another of those yellow freeze beams at me. This time I was ready for it and didn't move... Instead, I used my special 'reflection' technique, using my chi ability to create a mirrored force field that not only stopped his own chi attack...but bounced it right back at him. Pi yelled but became motionless as his body was covered with yellow ice crystals.

Pi was frozen and motionless for the moment, though obviously still aware. And if this followed the rules of the game, he would remain frozen for up to half a minute or until I actually hit him with any attack. Since I wasn't about to waste an opportunity, I ran up to him and sent a flying kick to his body, seing him flying back into what had to be a painful impact against the wall.

"Who the fuck are you?" Pi yelled at me, getting even more infuriated.

I wasn't really surprised that Pi hadn't recognized me... He had been an obnoxious player in the game, running around to just about everyone and trash talking... Just about everyone knew who he was... I had always been a much more serious player and I doubted that I had made enough of an impression on him for him to bother remembering me.

Then Pi reached behind him and suddenly pulled a ninja sword right out of mid-air. There had been no sign of it strapped to his back a moment earlier, so it was obvious that he had summoned it the same way that I did my own weapons. He was so pissed at the moment that he obviously no longer cared about the rule against using weopons in a hand to hand fight.

Since I wasn't about to be out done, I waited until Pi charged me with the sword, then suddnely pulled out my katars and blocked his attack. He stared at me in shock and stumbled backwards, gasping in disbelief.

"Let me introduce myself again," I told him with a smirk, holding my katars up for him to get a good look at them, "My name is Kestra...the Jagged Wind..."

"You...you're from the game," he gasped in shock.

I nodded faintly, definitely wanting to have a little talk to him about that... But at the moment, I wanted to beat him even more. He was too obnoxious to take it easy on just because I had a few questions to ask him. In fact, I had a feeling that I'd have more fun beating the answers out of him.

At this point, the whole crowd was going even more wild. There was no doubt that they were all as confused as hell about what was going on, but we were putting on such a show that they just had to be wondering what was going to be happening next.

I glanced up into the audience and saw Nancy, staring at me and Pi with a look of stunned disbelief. It was obvious that she recognized him too...and realized what that might mean.

Just a moment later though, I was too busy to pay any attention to either Nancy or the audience. Pi and I were going out it with our weapons... He slashed at me with his sword and I would block and counter attack with my katars. He had the advantage in range...but I had two weapons...and could use one to block while simultaneously attacking with the other. I even saw several opportunities to slash him, though I wasn't about to actually try killing the man. I might have been somehow turned into a fighter, but that didn't mean that I had suddenly become a killer as well.

After a few minutes of this, Pi realized that he was at a disadvantage... I was faster than him and more skilled...though I hadn't really been pushing my advantage as much as I could have. Still, the realization obviously frustrated him.

I wasn't at all surprised when Pi lost his temper and shifted tactics again. He might not have been a bad fighter in the game, but he had always put more effort into trash talk and annoying people than he had on improving his own abilities. And now that he was in the real world...and going up against someone who could handle his video game abilities, he didn't know what to do.

Pi yelled out a few more insults, then cut loose with his signature move. He sent out a beam of yellow energy from his hand, which missed me and hit the wall behind me, covering it with a thick sheet of ice. Then he tried again, taking one shot at me after another without much success. I was able to avoid and block just about all of his attacks.

"You're running out of chi energy," I told him, half surprised that he hadn't run out already. He had used those abilities so much already.

Then he created a thick ice wall between the two of us, which he stood behind and planned his next move. I was getting a little tired of this though so channeled some of my chi energy into my katars...making them glow a faint blue. And with a loud yell, I charged straight for his ice wall, cutting straight through it and continuing straight towards him.

"You won't take me alive," Pi cried out as he slashed at me with his sword.

But Pi's sword wasn't a threat, not with the wild way that he was waving it around. I easily blocked his swing, then with a twist of my wrists, tore it from his hand and sent it flying across the floor. And before his sword even hit the ground, I had knocked him down and had one of my katars to his throat.

"I think I win," I told him coldly, seeing the look of fear and defeat on his face.

"I...I give up," he whimpered, looking almost as if he were about to cry. "Please don't kill me..."

"I won't kill you," I told him, pulling my katar away a bit but leaving it there enough so that he knew I still had it readily available. For a moment, I just stared intently at Pi, my mind whirling with questions. "I just want to know how you got this way..."

Pi stared back at me and cautiously sat up. He gave me a nervous, suspicious look and nodded faintly. "I don't know..." He shook his head, "I was playing the game about three weeks ago when I guess my computer got hit by lightninig or something... I woke up looking like this..." He shook his head again and scowled, "Hell, I don't even look like myself anymore..."

"I know what you meant," I told him with a frown. "But that's it...? You were just playing the game and got hit by lightning?" At his nod, I stood back and let him go.

I didn't say a word as I slipped my katars back to the limbo or nothingness where they were stored. I glanced to where Pi's sword had hit the ground, but it was gone...pehaps having vanished back to that same nothingness on it's own. I had noticed that my throwing knives tended to do that after they'd been thrown.

Then I shook my head and walked out of the ring, not paying any attention to the stunned and excited reactions from the audience. Nor did I pay any attention to the people who surrounded me after I stepped out... They were bursting with excitement and questions about what had happened, though I easily ignored them. I had much more important things to worry about. I had thougt that I was unique...that what I had gone through was a one of a kind accident that could never EVER happen again. But Pi's existence had just proven me wrong...

"Something is going on," I told myself in realization, not at all pleased with it. "Something big..." I frowned, feeling a nervous chill run up my spine.

After this, I wanted to go and talk to Nancy about Pi and what he had told me, though I had to hang around if I wanted to collect my prize money. It was a bit too much money for me to just up and throw away.

But after that first fight, everything else that night was somewhat anticlimactic. None of the other fighters could put on anywhere near the show that Pi and I had...though it was sure fun to watch them try in a ring that was coated with ice.

And also unfortunately, after the display that I had put on in my earlier fight, no one wanted to challenge me to a grudge match. That was pretty disappointing to me as I was kind of hoping to double my prize money again. It was a good way to earn some extra cash...

Eventually though everything was over and I was able to go and collect my prize money. It wasn't as much as I was getting used to taking home from the fights, but it was still money in my pocket...or at least less money that I would owe Meeks.

Mr. Meeks was definitely not happy with my display and when he saw me, he immediately launched into a bit of a rant. "What the hell kind of show was that?" he demanded, "This is a fight, not some kind of circus... I can't believe that the two of you cooked up those fancy tricks..."

I frowned and listend to his rant, then told him, "Those weren't tricks." I gave Meeks a steady look, "There's more to this world than you imagine..."

"Really," he started, giving me a grim look.

I frowned, then reached behind me and pulled out one of my katars. He was a bit stunned since he was obviously pretty sure that I was unarmed. Then I held my katar up so he could get a better look and channeled a bit of my chi energy into it, just enough to make it glow.

"There's more," I said, slipping my katar back into it's vanishing sheath. Then I pulled out a throwing knife from my sleave and set it down on the table. "Touch it," I told him.

Mr. Meeks scowled but picked up my throwing knife, even checking the balance with a skilled eye. It was pretty apparent that he was no stranger to knives. But as he was holding the blade, it just vanished. It faded away as all my throwing blades did a short time after they had left my hand.

"What the?" he gasped in disbelief. It was pretty obvious that he'd never had something just vanish out of his hands without a trace before.

"I have a few special abilities," I told Meeks. "It's a long story, and I thought that I was the only one..." I scowled, "But obviously that's not the case... I won't use them in a fight...at least not normally. But Pi didn't give me much of a choice..."

After this explanation, Meeks was still a bit annoyed at the disruption to normal operations, but he wasn't about to push the subject. Especially not since just about everyone in the audience had been thrilled by the show...

"I just hope that they don't expect more," I muttered as I left Meeks.

I had barely left Meeks when I suddenly found myself face to face with a well dressed man. There was another man behind him, who I suspected was probably a bodyguard from the way he stood. And an instant later, I was braced and ready to fight.

"Hey, that was a great fight," the man grinned at me, his eyes flashing with excitment. "I couldn't believe it... All that incredible action... Those skills... And of course, those special effects. Incredible."

"Um...thanks," I responded, not sure how to handle such praise.

"Who did your choreography?" he asked me in a rush.

"What?" I blinked in surprise.

However, the man pushed, "Your choreography was spectacular..."

"There wasn't any," I told him with a frown. "That fight was kind of spur of the moment..."

"You came up with all of that on the spot?" he stared at me in disbelief. "Amazing..."

I nodded at that, "Sorry, but I've got to get going. I have a friend to meet up with..."

"I understand," he told me, suddenly looking a lot more serious. "But while you're still here, I was wondering if you might be interested in a job offer..."

"What?" I asked him, suddenly suspicious.

The man pulled out a business card and handed it to me. Then he stood there with a confident look on his face, as if he expected me to recognize his name. But when I looked at the card, the name did sound a little familiar though I couldn't place where. However, the business name was familiar.

"Chase Maxwell from Clarion Movie Studios," I read aloud. If I remembered right, Clarion movies were fairly cheap ones...the kind that usually went directly to the video store shelves.

"I'm just starting to direct a new movie," the man...Chase told me, "And I was hoping to give you a role in it..."

"What?" I blinked in surprise, momentarily forgetting all about my search for Nancy.

Chase nodded, looking quite serious all of a sudden. "I'm making a new action movie with Tyler Reese..."

The name Tyler Reese was definitely one that I recognized. He was an actor who made a lot of action movies. He wasn't A list and had only been in a couple of movies that actually went to the big screen. Most of his movies were direct to video...and made by Clarion studios...

"I'd like to offer you a role," he repeated, then went on to explain.

It turned out that the movie was another action movie, which wasn't at all surprising considering that Tyler Reese was the star. However, what did surprise me was the role that Chase was offering me. He wanted me to play the main villain's right hand woman...the enforcer who killed off the heroes wife and who then faught him throughout the movie before finally getting killed in the end.

"It sounds interesting," I admitted, feeling just a little excited at having been offered a position in any movie...

"With the way you moved out there," Chase exclaimed, the excitement lighting up his eyes again. "You'd be great..."

"I'll think about it," I told him honestly, not just saying it because it was polite.

Chase nodded, "Please say yes... Give me a call within the next couple days..."

Once Chase was gone, I looked through the crowd of people who were leaving the arena to see if I could spot Nancy. However, I did suddenly seee another face that I recognized... It was an old man with a white beard...and he was staring straight at me.

"What the hell?" I gasped in surprise.

The old man who was staring at me looked exactly like the Kombat Master from the game... That was the non-player charachter who was their spokesman, who appeared on the screen whenever you logged on and who acted as the referee in all of the tournaments.

But just then, someone walked between us and I lost sight of him for a moment. And by the time the path was clear a second later, there was no sign of the old man.

"Wait," I blurted out, wanting to bet a better look at him. But it was too late. The old man was nowhere to be seen.

I just stood there for a moment, not sure if I had actually just seen the Kombat Master...a fictional video game charachter, or if I had just been imagining it. After all that had happened with me...and after meeting up with Pi, I obviously had the game on my mind. I could have just been seeing things...putting mental connections were there were none.

"Damn," I spat out.

Then I shook my head, feeling a bit shaken and uncertain. I had been having a hard enough time just trying to adapt to my circumstances, and now it looked like my 'accident' might not actually have been one. Something extremely strange was going on and I didn't like it at all. It made me feel like someone was playing games with me...with my life.

"Maybe Nancy will have some ideas," I muttered grimly, "Because I sure as hell don't.

Kombat Champion
Part 8 of 16
By Morpheus

I frowned slightly as I looked at the business card in my hand, wondering why it was that all of my latest job offers seemed to come in the form of business cards. It was kind of odd, though I had to admit that it seemed to offer a certain style as well.

"A movie with Tyler Reese," I mused, thinking of the offer that Chase Maxwell had made to me the night before. I had to admit that it sounded interesting. Very interesting.

"Are you still thinking about that movie thing?" Nancy asked as she came into the room, noticing that I had the business card in my hand.

I just nodded at that, "Yeah... It is pretty tempting...but I don't know if I can do something like that right now."

Nancy frowned, "I know what you mean... Things have been kind of weird for you lately..."

"That's putting it mildly," I gave her a weak grin.

Then we just sat there for a few minutes in silence before Nancy finally said, "About last night..."

I looked at her, "About Pi?"

She nodded at that, "Yeah."

We had talked about the fight with Pi a little bit the night before on the ride home, though not too much. Instead, I had been a bit lost in my own thoughts as I had tried to make sense of all that had gone on. First I'd run into Pi and then there was the old man who looked like the Kombat Master.

"He told me," I said slowly, "He told me that he got struck by lightning... And he said that it happened three weeks ago..."

"Three weeks?" Nancy asked.

I nodded at that. She knew quite well that I had transformed four weeks earlier, so he had changed a week after me. My own change had made no sense whatsoever, but now that I knew that Pi had been changed in the same way...and while playing the same game...

"There's something really weird with that game," I told her grimly. "Somehow it's tied to that game..."

"Because you and Pi were both changed into you charachters?" she asked.

"Yeah," I agreed, "But there's more..."

I hadn't told her about seeing the Kombat Master as well... In fact, I hadn't even been sure that I really had seen him, or if it was just my imagination playing tricks on me. Hell, it could have just been someone who had been there to watch the fights and who just happened to resemble the game charachter. But that struck me as pushing coincidence a little further than I thought it should go at the moment.

"Maybe I'm being paranoid," I told her, silently wondering if you were still considered paranoid if they really were out to get you. "But I saw something else... After the fight..."

And with that, I told her all about my seeing the Kombat Master. I quickly added my own doubts, that it might not have been anything more than coincidence or my own imagination. But Nancy seemed to agree that it seemed a bit too much of a coincidence.

"This is starting to get weird," she told me.

"Starting?" I blinked in surprise. "It got weird a month ago..."

"Yeah, I guess," Nancy looked at me. "But at least you're adjusting..."

"No choice," I told her. "It's either that or go insane." Then I shrugged, "I guess people can adapt to just about anything..."

"You're living proof of that," she smiled.

"Any ideas about Pi and the Kombat Master?" I asked her.

Nancy shook her head, "None... It's just too...weird."

I nodded, understanding completely. Something strange was going on and it was so far out of the ordinary, out of everything we knew about reality that we had no way to really make any sense of it.

So instead, we changed topics again. Nancy asked me, "What are you going to do about that movie?"

"A real movie," I mused, "And a it's got Tyler Reese in it..."

"But you'll just be playing the villain," Nancy grinned.

I thought about it for a moment and nodded, "Sounds like fun..."

Then I held the busines card up and stared at it again, giving it a thoughtful flick with my finger. And at that moment, I finally decided to go ahead and do it. I was going to call Chase Maxell and say yes...

--------------------

I frowned and let out a long sigh, feeling just a little bit frustrated. My clothes weren't exactly comfortable, and I had spent half the day doing the same thing over and over again. It didn't help that there were people yelling all over the place.

"Why did I ever take this job?" I muttered to myself.

It was my first day on the set of the movie, or at least my first day in costume and in front of the camer. I'd been around there for several days before this to get the costume made up for me and to get my lines. But still, I was amazed at just how quickly I'd gone from being handed the business card to be being on set. It had only been a week and a half.

Unfortunately, I had already discovered that things weren't as easy as I had imagined that they would be. There were a couple people who were upset at me because I took over the role of the villain enforcer, a role that was previously supposed to go to an actress friend of theirs. But since she didn't have the martial arts background, she found herself replaced at the last minute by yours truly.

Then there were the problems with my trying to memorize my lines. I might have had the neccessary martial arts talent for the role, but I didn't think that I had the acting background. But I was damn well going to try, and Chase Maxwell was being pretty patient with me.

But of course, my biggest problem so far was Tyler Reese, the star of the movie. He wasn't quite as patient with me when I screwed up my lines, but what was worse was his arrogance. The man seemed to really buy into his own press and believed that he was a fantastic martial artist. However, I knew better and it took all of my self-control to keep from giving him a real lesson in martial arts.

"Ugh," I muttered as I took my hair and looked it. It was now raven black, having been dyed that color that morning. I hadn't realized that I was going to have to dye my hair for the movie, and that meant that I was going to have to go ahead and do it every morning. "Talk about a pain in the butt..."

I was relieved that I had been able to talk them out of cutting my hair for the movie though. At first they had insisted on it, saying that they thought my charachter should have shorter hair. But once I made it clear that I had no intention of cutting my hair for them, they dropped the subject.

"And these clothes," I muttered, shaking my head slightly.

Of course I had to admit that the black leather outfit they had me wearing made me look like a real badass bitch, but it was somewhat uncomfortable as well. The fact that it was warm and sunny out and I happened to be wearing black leather didn't exactly do much for my comfort level either.

After our short break was over, it was time to get back to work filming. Chase Maxwell was going over where everyone would stand and what they would be doing. I nodded, remembering the script that I'd read through. Fortunately I wouldn't have to say anything in this scene, merely stand by the main villain and look tough. I could do that.

"That was horrible," Tyler Reese complained after the first take. "You just stood there..."

"I thought that was what I was supposed to do," I snapped back at him. "In fact, Chase's exact words were to stand here and look mean..."

"Don't get smart with me," Tyler snapped.

But I just smirked, "What's the matter...? You need a girl to be dumb so that you can keep up with her?"

Tyler gave me a glare which made me think that I might have gone a little far. "Listen," Tyler growled, "Chase may think that you're some kind of hot shit because because you can throw pyrotechnics around in a staged fight, but you don't know the first thing about being a real fighter..."

It was then that it dawned on me. Chase must have been bragging about my fight with Pi and it had hurt Tyler's pride. After all, he was supposed to be the hot fighter on set and he couldn't let some girl outstage him.

"Oh, I'm really impressed," I snorted in response, rolling my eyes as I did so. That obviously upset Tyler even more.

"If you really think you're such hot stuff," Tyler glared at me, "Let's have a little...sparring match."

I let out a sigh at that, then shrugged, "All right... Where?"

Tyler just grinned, "I know just the place..."

It turned out that there was a sparring area set up just a short distance away, where the various stuntmen in the movie could practice their martial arts moves. And after taking just one look, I knew that Tyler was right when he'd said that it was just the place.

Most of the crew on set began to gather around as the two of us squared off in the middle of the training area. Tyler had an arrogant air about him and looked at me as though it was going to be an easy victory. He was obviously looking forward to showing off his skills by beating the person that Chase had been bragging about.

"You ready to learn what real fighting is about?" Tyler smirked, "I've faught in tournaments against some of the world's best...so I'm just the guy to teach you."

"So go on and teach already," I rolled my eyes again.

Tyler came at me, a little faster thant I would have expected. However, he still wasn't as fast as I was and I easily blocked and avoided his first couple of attacks. He sped up and put in more intensity, while I just smiled and acted as casual as I could, avoiding each and every attack and intentionally making it look effortless.

"So," I let out a yawn, 'When is this lesson supposed to begin?"

I had to admit that Tyler was definitely better than I'd given him credit for. I'd seen his movies and knew that he had a great reputation as a fighter, but I had always assumed that a large part of it was the fact that every fight in his movies was carefully coreographed. But he was better than that, better than a few of the people that I'd encountered in the arena. However, he wasn't as good as I was. In fact, he wasn't even close.

It didn't take long for Tyler to begin realizing how outclassed he was, though to his credit he kept it up. He got frustrated, but not too much so. In fact, he became more focused which meant that I had to put forth a little more effort as well. I even started to retaliate by giving him a few punches and kicks as well, one of which sent him flying a dozen feet before he hit the ground.

"Enough," he grimaced, wiping the sweat from his forehead, "I give..."

There was a gasp of surprise from our audience, which had grown even larger without my realizing it. They had seen the whole fight and most of them were looking at me with expressions of amazement. Then again, I had just beaten an actor with reputation as being a great martial artist.

"Damn you're good," Tyler admitted, looking embarrassed.

Then I noticed a look on Tyler's face and let out a faint gasp. I suddenly realized that this whole sparring match hadn't been about his pride and proving that he was the best... At least not completely. It was him trying to prove how tough and macho he was... It was him trying to impress me...

"Maybe we can go out to dinner sometime," he suggested with a more pleasant smile. "Maybe tonight... You can tell me how you did that kick..."

"Oh God," I groaned, realizing that Tyler Reese...a movie star was hitting on me. I could almost feel sick to my stomach, and not at all in a good way.

Tyler gave me what was obviously his most charming grin, "You're as skilled as you are beautiful..."

I decided that I couldn't let him go any further and cut him off right there. "I'm not intereted..." Then I added, "You're not my type..."

"I am if you give me a chance," he smirked.

"Ugh," I grimaced, unable to help but roll my eyes at that. Was I ever that bad back when I had been a guy? I sure as hell hoped not. It was almost kind of pathetic. "I'm not into guys," I told him with a sigh, hoping that he'd get the hint.

Tyler stared at me for a moment and let out an, "Oh... You're gay?"

For a moment I just stood there, then I nodded, "I guess I am..."

After all, I still liked women, and since I now was one myself, I guessed that did make me officially gay. Halleluja...I'm a lesbian.

Just then, Chase called out, "Enough lollygagging... We've got a movie to make..."

Tyler grimaced and walked off, looking pretty embarrassed at not only having just been shown up by a girl in front of his film crew, but by the fact that he'd just been hitting on a lesbian as well. I almost felt kind of sorry for the guy.

I let out a sigh and stared walking back to the main set where we had been working, when a young woman who was about 20 or 21 came up to me. She was very pretty, had fairly short blonde hair and a small studd through one side of her nose. I recognized her as one of the camera operators, and thought that I remembered her as being named Tanya or Amber, though I wasn't really very sure.

"Hey," she greeted me, "I'm Tina..." She gave me a gentle smile as if she wasn't sure if I remembered her or not. I was kind of thankful that she did give me her name again because I wouldn't have remembered it right otherwise.

"Hey," I nodded back.

"That was a great fight," she grinned at me, "I loved that look on his face when you sent him flying like that." Then she laughed, "It was priceless...."

"It was kind of fun," I admitted with a grin back.

"So," she paused, suddenly looking embarrassed, "I heard what you told him... Are you? Gay, I mean?"

I let out a faint sigh at that, "Don't worry...I'm not going to hit on you or anything..."

But Tina blinked, "Actually...I kind of wish you would..."

I blinked at and stared at her, realizing that she was a bit self-concious. Then it dawned on me... "You're a lesbian?"

"Yeah," Tina gave me a nervous smile. "And I think you're gorgeous... And the way you do that stuff... Absolutely incredible..."

"Um...thanks," I responded, not sure how to respond to that revelation.

For a moment, I just stood there, feeling a bit confused. In the month and a half since my transformation, I had been far too busy to think about any kind of romance. I had no idea what my transformation would mean for my already less than stellar love life. Hell, I didn't even know if I was going to suddenly find myself starting to like guys or not, so I had done my best to try not even thinking about the subject.

"You're very pretty too," I told her honestly, knowing that I would have given my left nut to be with someone like her before my transformation.

"Maybe we can have dinner sometime," Tina suggested with a nervous but eager smile.

I nodded at that, then smiled back, "Tonight? After filming?"

"That sounds great," Tina grinned. Then she looked back towards the set where everyone was getting back into position and said, "I guess we should get back to work..."

"I guess," I shrugged, feeling rather happy for some reason. I looked at Tina and felt even better, deciding that I couldn't wait until dinner that night.

The rest of the day filming when somewhat better than that morning. We finished the scene that we had been working on after several more takes, then went onto to film a couple more scenes where I could be a bit more active. It helped that I was a bit more in my element with the fighting scenes, and it helped more that Tyler's attitude towards me had changed. Now that he respected my fighting ability and knew that nothing would ever happen between us, he became a lot more respctful and professional.

Once the filming was over for the day though, it was finally time for me to spend a bit of time with Tina. I was definitely excited about our dinner, though I had to admit that I was pretty nervous as well.

Ever since my change, I hadn't allowed myself to even consider the possibily of having any kind of romantic relationship with anyone, so I didn't really know how to deal with the fact that the possibility of one presented itself now. Could I tell her about my past...about who I really was? And if I did, how would she react to such a thing? Would she think that I was some sort of freak and be totally disgusted?

In the end, I decided to just be myself and not tell her anything about my transformation or who I had been before. After all, I'd have to be insane to tell anyone that kind of thing on a first date, especially when there was no doubt that they'd think I was insane.

Before long Tina and I were sitting back at a resteraunt. It wasn't a big fancy resteraunt or anything else, but it was a step or two above Burger King. And to my relief, she was nervous as well, and the fact that I wasn't the only one really made it all easier on me.

"What you did today was great," Tina told me after we'd been sitting there in a nervous silence for nearly a minute. "Where did you learn to fight like that?"

I was silent for a moment, then carefully told her, "I wasn't something that I ever really intended to learn... It just sort of happened... I mean, I just sort of picked it up and before I realized it, I knew how to fight..."

"Amazing," Tina responded, "You make it look so effortless..."

"So," I started, changing the subject, "What about you? How did you get into making movies?"

Tina perked up a bit more as she began talking about herself and giving me her life story. It wasn't really much of a story, just that she had always loved movies so had gone to film school and now worked behind the camera, with hopes of one day being able to direct.

I was a little uncomfortable with talking too much about myself, and for good reason, so I kept diverting the topic of conversation every time things got a little too personal. It wasn't perfect but it was about the only way that I could deal with her without actually lying about myself.

There was no doubt that I did like Tina, and as our dinner and conversation went on, long after we had finished eating, I found myself liking her more and more. She was bright, energetic and seemed like a really nice person. And of course the fact that she was pretty good looking and thought the same about me didn't hurt any either.

However, I was becoming a little worried that she might be expecting too much from any relationship that we might be starting. And I was still a bit worried and confused about what I wanted...and was capable of giving from a relationship myself. Ever since my change, a lot of the things I had taken for granted had been wiped away and I was still working on figuring out where I stood.

"I recently went through some pretty traumatic personal experiences," I told Tina as gently as I could, trying not to scare her off. "I'm not sure how to handle this all right now..."

"What are you saying?" she asked carefully, looking a bit defensive.

I took a deep breath, then said, "I was hoping that we could take this a bit slow for now..."

Tina let out a sigh of relief, then smiled, "Okay... I can handle that..."

After we left the restaraunt, more than an hour after we had finally finished eating, we spent another few hours just going for a walk around a nearby park and talking to each other. It was all pretty nice and I was kind of hoping that the evening wouldn't end, though of course it had to.

"I hope that this isn't going too fast for you," Tina teased me a little as she moved to give me a quick kiss.

However, our quick kiss quickly turned into something just a bit longer and more passionate. God it felt good to be able to kiss a girl again. It had been so long since I'd been so close and personal with a girl...even before my transformation.

When we finally pulled apart a few minutes later, I gasped, "Wow..."

"We're gonna have to do that again," Tina grinned at me.

"Tomorrow?" I asked her with a grin back.

Tina grinned back at me but didn't say another word as we were soon locked into yet another kiss, followed by two more. And when we finally broke off and went our separate ways, I was in a damn good mood. I felt like I was floating on air. And the best thing was...I was going to go through it all again the next day.

--------------------

I leaned back and let out a long sigh of relief, thankful that I finally had a chance to just sit back and relax. Over the last few weeks, I had been so busy that I'd barely even had time to breath...or at least that was what it sometimes felt like. Of course my last couple weeks might have been extremely busy, but that didn't mean that they were bad in the least. In fact, the last two weeks had been some of the most fun that I'd ever had in my life.

Then I let out another sigh, pulled my strange gremlin aura in and turned on the TV which had been provided with my hotel room. I figured that I had better make use of it while I could since I would be moving out of it and going back home...or at least back to Nancy's place in another day or so. After all I was only there so that I could film a movie, and I had finished it the day before...or at least I had finished my part in it.

But even though the TV was now on, I didn't really pay any attention to it. After all, interesting could TV be when compared to my real life? I mean, nothing on TV could compare to my real life... I had been hit by lightning and transformed, become a somewhat professional fighter and had even been making movies... What could TV have that was more exciting than all of that?

I smiled as I thought about making the movie... It had definitely been pretty interesting, especially the parts where I got to spar with Tyler Reese on screen. Of course that was all choreographed and wasn't anything like a real fight, but it was still a blast. I even had fun doing the part where I lost the fight with him and his girlfriend put a bullet through my head because he couldn't bring himself to kill a girl.

"I don't think I'd mind doing that again," I grinned to myself.

Of course, I was somewhat pleased with the knowledge that I just might get another chance. Chase Maxwell had said that he was pretty impressed with my 'kick ass fighting' and that I was picking the acting stuff up pretty quickly. I thought that he was exaggerating that a bit, or at least about he acting part, but he had said that he was seriously considering me for the lead in his next movie. I had to admit that I was pretty excited by the idea of starring in a movie.

"It's not like it pays a lot," I muttered to myself, still grinning. Or at least the acting didn't pay all that much compared to how much I could win fighting in the arena, but that wasn't really the point. And besides, as an added bonus, it was legitimate and legal work as well. "I guess that would mean paying the IRS too..." That was a part of it that I definitely didn't like.

Making money by fighting in the arena wasn't something that I had given up just yet anyway... Even though I had been making a movie for the past two weeks, I'd made sure to go to my fights as well. That was easy money that I wasn't about to just throw away, especially when I had the added thrill of trying out my skills a bit. And I had to admit that another motivation was the thought that I might run into more people like Pi and myself, though so far there had been no hint of there being others.

"But at least it's easy money," I reminded myself with a grin. I knew that I had been making a good amount of money for Mr. Meeks as well, which made him more than happy to pay for my plane tickets to the fights and back.

And then of course, there was Tina. The two of us had been seeing quite a bit of each other, and not just on set either. In fact, we'd been getting together just about every night after filming, except when I had to go out and figh, and we were getting pretty close. I wasn't sure about using the word love, but we were definitely in lust with each other. Most of the time when we got together, we ended up doing some pretty nice making out...and I had little doubt that it wouldn't be much longer at all before I was ready to take things to the next level.

Then I glanced at the door and smiled, knowing that it wouldn't be much longer before Tina came over. She'd be over as soon as they were filming for the day, and I couldn't wait. In fact, I had been thinking that it might very well be the day to take our physical relationship to the next level. I think that I had finally accepted my new body enough to do that.

"I can't believe how fast I'm getting used to this," I said, looking down at my body. Every day it was less and less like a 'new' body, and more and more it was just becoming 'my' body. There were even times when I couldn't quite remember what I had really looked and felt like before my transformation. "It seems so long ago..."

It had been almost two months, and so much in my life had changed since then. I had changed so much since then...and not just physically. There was no doubt that I was also stronger mentally...able to accept and deal with things in ways that I never would have been able to consider before. It was amazing what experience could do for your outlook on life...and of yourself.

"And I'll be back with Nancy again tomorrow," I smiled. Tina might be my girlfriend, but there was no doubt that Nancy had become my best friend. She knew things about me...about the real me that no one else in the world did. She was the one who had been there for me when I really needed it.

I felt a strange mix of emotions as I thought about the fact that I'd now saved up enough money to move out of her spare room and get a place of my owna gain. Hell, I could even afford to replace just about everything that I'd abandonned when I left my old life behind. Having that kind of independence and privacy again would be great, but at the same time, I'd feel a bit sad to leave Nancy as well.

"It's not like I'll never see her again," I snorted to myself.

I could see Nancy again whenever I wanted. And I could also see Tina... My only concern was being able to see them both easily. If I lived closer to Nancy, I might not be able to see Tina as much as I'd like, and if I moved closer to Tina, the same might be true of Nancy.

Just then, there was a knocking at the door. "It's unlocked," I called out, knowing that it was Tina. She always knocked the same way, a sort of hesitant knock at first, followed by a couple more insistant ones.

"Hey," Tina grinned at me as she came inside, bringing a smile to my face.

"Hey yourself," I greeted her with a kiss.

But as we broke apart from our kiss, I noticed something on the TV from the corner of my eye. It was a breaking news report on a local channel, about some lunatic creating a huge scene at the nearby mall. I barely gave it much thought until they put a live camera shot of the lunatic onto the screen.

"Oh shit," I gasped in surprise, my eyes going wide in amazement.

"What?" Tina asked, then stared at the TV herself, "Oh wow..."

We watched the images on the TV for a few more seconds, with my heart nearly jumping up into my throat as I did so. This lunatic was running around, throwing thrings around the mall and creating chaos. According to the news, he had been caught shoplifting, or of at least taking what he wanted from one store and walking out... And when a security guard had tried stopping, he went ape shit on the guard...and anyone else who came at him.

"I need a ride," I told Tina in a cracking voice.

"What?" Tina asked in surprise.

"I need a ride fast," I told her grimly as I picked up the duffle bag that held my uniform. Then I gave her a steady look, "I'll explain later, but we have to go NOW."

Tina was obviously a bit confused, but she did as I wanted and without any questions...at least not verbally though I could see a thousand of them in her eyes. My mind however was more concerned with the lunatic at the mall... When I had seen him on the TV, I had immediately recognized him... I recognized him...but not from real life. I recognized him from the game...

Kombat Champion
Part 9 of 16
By Morpheus

I stood in the middle of the mall, wearing the same violet costume which I always wore when fighting, and which had come along with my body. It was still somewhat amazing that I had been able to get into the mall at all with the police beginning to gather around, but there were far too many mall entrances for them to really watch them all or to keep everyone out.

"I hope Tina won't be too mad at me," I muttered, remembering the look of confusion on her face when I had ordered her to remain outside in her car where it was safe. I didn't think that she'd appreciate my concern for her safety...not when I had gone charging in.

Then I saw the lunatic which had been causing such a scene in the mall and froze, unable to take my eyes off of him. He was just the way I remembered him from the game... But this time, there was no doubt that he was solid flesh and blood...just like Pi and myself.

The man stood nearly seven feet tall and he was bursting with muscles...muscles which screamed of strength and power. His face was grim and brutal looking, almost like it could belong to some sort of barbarian warrior. A pair of dark eyes glared at everyone and everything around him, constrasting with his dark red hair.

His clothes, which had also come directly from the game were fairly minimal and consisted of a pair of black pants, and a pair of heavy black boots. These were were accessorized with a thick red metal belt around his waist and a pair of red metal wrist bands. Other than that, he had a tattoo of a black skull which covered most of his chest, and a huge scimitar which was strapped to his back.

"Ghengis," I whispered his name.

I knew Ghengis...or at least his reputation in the game. I had even faught him once. In fact, it was Ghengis who had killed off my first charachter in the Kombat Champions game, during a black tournament which I had foolishly entered. Black tournaments were the only place in the game where your charachter could be killed by losing a fight, and those were the only kind that he ever entered. He only played when the stakes where high...and he NEVER lost.

Ghengis had been playing the game just about longer than anyone else, and he had really built up his charachter. As a result, he had a reputation of being a very powerful charachter...nearly unbeatable in a fight. In fact, I don't know of anyone who can claim to have ever beaten him at all. And he also had a reputation for viciousness, largely due to the fact that he only faught in black tournaments and therefore killed off all of his opponents' charachters.

"You idiots really think that you can stop me," Ghengis laughed, grabbing some cop who had gotten close enough to try using a taser on him and tossing the man through the window of a Victorias Secret. Ghengis laughed even louder at that. "No one can beat me..."

My heart raced as I stared at Ghengis and remembered his reputation from the game. He had a well earned reputation for being unbeatable, and that was not good for me. When I'd faced all of my other opponents, I had never really doubted that I was better than they were. I had even known from the start that I could beat Pi. But Ghengis... Ghengis was a different story entirely.

For a moment, I just stood there, a part of me screaming to turn and leave as fast as I could. After all, this wasn't really a video game... If Ghengis killed me here, I would really be dead. And I knew that I couldn't beat him... Not if he was as good as he was in the game. It just couldn't be done.

But on the other hand, Ghengis was causing all sorts of destruction as he went on his rampage through the mall. He didn't seem to be actively trying to hurt anyone, but he didn't really seem to care if he hurt them either. It was like it was all a game to him. And I knew that I was the only one who had even a chance of dealing with him...and perhaps just of keeping him distracted long enough for everyone else to get out of the way and for the cops to bring in the heavy firepower.

And then, there was one more fact which tipped the balance of my decision. Ghengis...or whomever had been playing him had been transformed into their charachter the very same way that Pi and I had been. He was my link to what was going on...and he might even provide me with a few clues or answers. But from the way that he was going on, I seriously doubted that I'd get any cooperation from him until he'd been beaten.

"Just like Pi," I muttered to myself.

It was at this point that Ghengis finally noticed me standin there. He smirked, "So they have to end in some scrawny girl, dressed up like a super hero to bring me down... I am SOOOO scared..." Then he burst out laughing.

"Hello Ghengis," I said grimly.

He stared at me in surprise, "How did you know my name?"

"Because," I told him with a grimace, "I play the same video game you do..."

And with that, I jumped straight at Ghengis, catching him by surprise and getting in a few really nice hits. However, he backhanded me and sent me flying. If it hadn't been for my agility and being able to shift my position as I did, he likely would have broken a few ribs.

Even as I got back to my feet, I realized that such charge had been a bad move. Ghengis was sort of like a brute charachter, but he'd built in enough additional abilities to support his impressive strength. And since he was one of...if not THE oldest player charachter in the game, he'd also built up his abilities quite a bit. A few punches weren't going to stop someone like him...

"You stupid girl," Ghengis yelled, punching the ground and using one of his special techniques... He created a minor earthquake and sent a shockwave across the ground towards me. A cop who had gotten too close got knocked on his ass, but my agility let me avoid it.

"Who the hell are you people?" one cop demanded, pointing a gun at me.

I was a little surprised that he'd be pointing it at me, but I remained calm, "I'm one of the good guys," I told him. "I'm here to stop this guy..." Then I took a deep breath, "Now point that damn gun somewhere else because you have more important things to worry about..." And with that, I pointed out the people who were still coming out of the stores. "You need to evacuate them..."

The cop let out a stream of curses but turned and ran to help evacuate the people. "I feel like I'm in a damn comic book," he yelled out.

I looked up at the TV cameraman who was standing further down the aisle, "And get them out of here too..."

Then I turned my attention back to Ghengis, who strangely enough, seemed to be flexing his muscles and showing off for the witnesses more than anything else. He even posed for the camera, giving a tough glaring look...

"What is up with this guy?" I muttered to myself.

However, I didn't have time to worry about Ghengis' eccentricities at the moment as I wanted to take him down and then ask him a few questions. So I silently summoned my spear...the same way that I had my katars. I hadn't even been sure that I could until that moment, but now there was no doubt about it.

"Oh yeah," I grinned, spinning my spear around like a quarterstaff. In the game, once you learn either the quarterstaff or the spear, it makes it much cheaper and easier to add the other to your list of abilities.

"What the...?" Ghengis blinked as I charged straight at him with my spear extended.

Gengis tried to dodge my attack, but he wasn't fast enough. I caught him right in the side with the spear's blade... Unfortunately, it didn't really do nearly as much damage as I'd hoped. Still, I had boodied him a little and that was enough to make me feel a bit more confident. I lashed at him for another attack, but this time Ghengis was ready and hit me with another of his special chi techniques which was something like a small explosion that just knocked me back.

"At least it didn't hurt too much," I grimaced, wincing from the slight burns that had formed on one of my hands which had been just a little too close to the source of the burst.

But while I was getting back to my feet, Ghengis was pulling out his scimitar. He didn't appear to have the summon ability and had to actually carry it on his back... That would certainly make it much more difficult for him to sneak his weapons around in public, but at the moment that didn't seem to be one of his concerns. And from the way he was currently dressed, I doubted that it ever had been.

Ghengis stood there with his large and extremely dangerous looking scimitar, a nasty grin on his face. And as if just to make his weapon seem scarrier, he used a channel technique and his blade stared to glow with a reddish light.

"So you want to play do you...?" Ghengis smirked, then suddenly lashed out with his sword.

He was a good distance away from me but to my surprise, though I should have expected it, a slash of red energy came from the sword blade and went straight at me. I jumped out of the way, though barely managing to do it in time. Still, it had gone right through the opening of the clothing store behind me and had cut one of the maniquins right in half, leaving no doubt as to what it might do to me if it had actually hit.

But Ghengis wasn't going to just sit back and let me come at him. He continued on the offense, sending more of those glowing red sword slashed at me. I was leaping and dodging, using nevery every bit of my speed and agility to avoid them, and even that wasn't enough. I got clipped on my leg, which left a painful burn mark and slash across my thigh. However, I couldn't let that slow me down or I'd be killed.

"Man," Ghengis laughed aloud, "Look at that... I bet I could even kick Superman's ass if he were real..."

I just grimaced and took the opportunity to try going on offensive myself. I went straight at Ghengis, hitting him with a few more good strikes from my spear. With my speed, I was able to hit him and dodge back, then lunge forward again... And to make things even better, I was too close for him to use his flying slash attack... Unfortunately though, I wasn't too close for him to use his sword as it was intended...

"Gotcha," Ghengis laughed as he finally blocked one of my attacks and actually cut my spear in half. The head went flying and I was left with just a handle. I dropped it and noticed that it vanished almost as soon as it had hit the ground.

"No," I grimaced, "I've got you..."

And with that, I sent three throwing knives right at him. They all caught him straight in the chest, causing him to grunt slightly in pain. There was blood marks where they had hit, but the blades themselves quickly vanished. And from the way that Ghengis was still standing, I doubted that I'd done too much damage to him with that move.

"That fucking hurt," Ghengis snarled at me, giving his sword another swing. I let loose with a few more throwing blades, then jumped back and out of his way.

"Doesn't anything stop this guy," I grimaced, thinking about my spear.
I kind of liked using the spear as it gave me bit more range and some distance options that my katars didn't. However, I had some tricks that I could use with my katars and not the spear...which I had a feeling that I would really need for that fight. So I took a deep breath and pulled out my katars, letting out a sigh of relief when I did. In the game you couldn't change weopons like that in the middle of a fight...

"But this is no game," I reminded myself.

I took a deep breath and braced myself, channeing my own chi into my katars until they were glowing blue. Then I stood my ground as Ghengis charged straight at me. As soon as he was close enough, I used one of my katars to deflect his sword, then I stepped in and hit him in the stomach as hard as I could with the second. This time I definitely did some damage, though not enough to stop him completely.

"That hurt," Ghengis cried out, getting angrier.

"We can stop this anytime," I told him, not sure that I believed it myself. "Put down your sword and we can talk..."

"No one tells me what to do," Ghengis yelled, suddenly even angrier. "Not anymore... No one's tougher than me now... Not my dad, and certainly not some scrawny girl..."

Then Ghengis yelled and came at me again, swinging his sword almost wildly. I was easily able to block and even give a few more quick slashes of my own. And as I avoided his attack and then jumped back to get a bit more breathing room, several things suddenly occured to me.

"Holy shit," I whispered in realization.

Ghengis was acting pretty strange and had been since the fight started... It just hadn't really dawned on me until then that he was someone else...and had merely been given the body and power of Ghengis. Inside of that body, he was whomever had been playing the game...not the unbeatable warrior. He had the power and even the skills...but not the mindset. And not the experience. With the way he had been going on, yelling, showing off and throwing a tantrum, he was more like a kid than a warrior...

"Maybe he is," I grimaced, realizing that there was no way of telling who Ghengis had been before he'd become his charachter. He could have been some snot nosed teenager who was now able to act out all of his macho revenge fantasies for all I knew. In fact, that was the very feeling that I was getting from him.

The way that Ghengis was fighting suddenly reminded me of my first fight in the arena...when I had gone against the Tiger. During that fight, I'd had a lot more power and skill, but I didn't have the real world experience and hadn't been able to focus right... In this fight, Ghengis was the one with more power and skill....or at least potential power and skill. And though he had more experience in the game, it was becoming quite obvious that with all of my fighting in the arena, I was the one who had more real world experience.

"Good," I grinned to myself, suddenly feeling more confident.

"I'm gonna show you," Ghengis was yelling, "I'm gonna show everyone... I'm the toughest one around..."

"Yeah," I smirked, "Hulk smash....right?" Then I decided to push him a little further, "You're not so tough... Hell, you're getting beaten by a girl..."

That did the trick all right and Ghengis suddenly launched at me with more of those red energy slashes from his sword. I dodged a few of them, then called out a few more taunts. Then I stood there and braced myelf, blocking several more. Finally, I used my reflection technique to send a couple of his slashes right back at him before he realized what was going.

"What the hell?" Ghengis gasped as he grabbed his chest with his free hand, obviously surprised that his red slashes had bounced right back at him and that he'd been the one hit by them instead.

"Is that all you have?" I tauned him.

It took a little effort to stand there and look smug. I was sore and injured, having taken a few more nicks and burns while I'd been fighting him. And of course, I was going to have a few really nasty bruises. But I couldn't let him see that. I couldn't let him see any weakness at the moment.

My plan worked because Ghengis yelled and stared attacking me again. He'd send out a red energy slash, flowed up by one of those shattering shockwaves along the ground. Several more chi attacks followed, all the while I kept dodging, avoiding and even blocking them. And at the rate he was using his chi energy it didn't take long before he finally ran out.

"Oh yeah," I grinned, having been a bit more conservative with my chi levels.

Ghengis was cursing that his attempt to use his signature move on me had failed because he didn't have enough energy, and then he stared yelling about how he was going to crush me and prove that he was the toughest guy around. By this time, I had stopped paying too much attention to the specifics of his rants. They sounded like so much trash talk from a high school locker room.

"My turn," I grinned at Ghengis.

And with that, I used one of my special moves which I had yet to try out in a real combat situation. I crossed my katars in front of me and channeled my energy into them so that they growed an even brighter blue. Then in a move that was basically similar in nature to his energy slashes, I fired the energy out of my crossed katars...in a single blue energy blast which caught him right in the chest and sent him flying back.

"Gotcha," I snarled, already jumping forward. And before Ghengis could recover from the energy blast, I hit him with a couple of nasty katar slashes, doing some nice damage.

"You bitch," he snarled, swinging his arm and hitting me with his fist. He would have done better to have used his sword instead, but his fist still did enough damage. He was pretty damn strong and it hurt like hell.

"Maybe," I grinned up at him, "But at least I'm not a weak loser like you..."

Ghengis growled and swung his sword at me, but I dodged out of the way, hit him with another katar strike and then retreated aways back. I was really getting sore and tired and knew that I didn't have much left. He was a lot bigger and stronger...and though he was out of chi energy, he still had a bit more endurance than me.

"Not for long," I muttered, calling upon my signature move...my second wind technique.

I let out a gasp as my chi energy flooded through my body in an entirely different manner, repairing all of my injuries and filling me with renewed energy for the fight. Since I had already used a good deal of my chi energy, I didn't have the excess energy to make me hyper and enhance my abilities... I was only back to full health...which was all that I needed for now.

"Now we're both out of chi," I grinned at Ghengis, hoping that he hadn't recharged enough for any real nasty attacks just yet. I didn't bother to tell him that I wasn't tired and injured anymore while he still was. That might not be considered a fair move, but I didn't particularly care. "Now you'll see why they call me the jagged wind...".

I took a deep breath and collected my focus before going straight at Ghengis. And without a word, I let loose with my full speed, hitting him with multiple katar strikes. I even caught his arm, causing him to drop his massive scimitar. Then I went at him with a few nasty kicks in especially sensitive areas... I felt a bit bad about kicking him in the nuts since I knew exactly how that kind of thing felt, though I didn't feel guilty for long.

Ghengis was already weakened and injured from our fight, so it didn't really take all that much more to push him to the edge. He was on the verge of losing it and he could barely even stand. Still, he had the energy to try talking trash, though now it only came out with a pitiful note of desperation in it.

"No one can beat me," he growled without being very convincing. "NO ONE! I'll tear you to pieces..."

I was tempted to taunt him again, but didn't say a word. Instead, I jumped at him, sending a powerful flying kick into his face. The impact sounded painful even to me, but it did the trick as he finally collapsed to the ground. He lay there with an almost pitiful and even pleading expression on his face as he realized that he was completely done for. He had nothing left to fight with.

Finally, I looked down at Ghengis and asked, "How long have you been like this?"

He was silent for a moment before quietly answering, "Yesterday..."

"Let me guess," I sighed, "You were playing Kombat Champions and you got struck by lightning..."

"What?" he blinked with a look of surprise, then quietly gasped out, "How did you know...?"
I let out a long sigh at that, knowing that he couldn't tell me anything about our changes that I didn't already know. From the looks of it, I already knew a lot more about it than he did...and I didn't really know all that much.

Then I finally looked up and around me, realizing that a bunch of cops were slowly coming closer. They all had looks of stunned amazement on thier faces and half of them looked as though they were trying to decide whether to arrest me or not. But apparently, my display of power and the fact that I had just taken out Ghengis had confinced them that it might not be a great idea at the moment. Apparently, one of them had tried opening fire on Ghengis before I showed up, and not only did it not hurt him...but he'd taken that cop and thrown him through a brick wall.

"Just great," I sighed, looking back down at Ghengis.

However, as I started at him, I was stunned to see a boy on the ground where Ghengis had been a moment earlier. He was an overweight boy of around 16 years old... There was a strange purple glow around him, but that was quickly fading. My eyes went wide as I realized that THIS was who Ghengis had really been... This was the kid who had been playing him in the game.

"What the hell?" I gasped in shock, trying to figure out why he had suddenly turned back to normal. It hadn't happened to Pi after I'd beaten him and I'd never run across any clue as to what might change me back. "How the hell did he turn back...?"

"That would be my doing," a voice behind me responded.

I snapped around and froze in surprise. Standing there was an old man with a white beard, dressed in what looked to be an expensive looking grey suit with a purple tie. But what held me in stunned amazement was the fact that I recognized him from the game.

"The Kombat Master," I gasped in disbelief.

He bowed his head slightly, then told me, "Come... You and I have much to speak of..."

Kombat Champion
Part 10 of 16
By Morpheus

I stood and silently stared at the Kombat Master...at the old man who should not exist. He was a fictional charachter in a game...and not even a player charachter. He was just the referree who watched over all of the tournaments... But there he was, standing right in front of me and holding all of the answers...

With that the two of us slowly walked away from the scene of the fight. They cops made no move to stop me, even after all the fighting I'd just done. In fact, they didn't seem to even notice me anymore. It was almost as though they had even forgotten I existed.

I glanced back, wondering what was going to happen to Ghengis...to that kid I'd left behind. But then again, I doubted that the cops would believe that he had been the crazed lunatic that had been destroying the mall. After all, he no longer looked anything like Ghengis. In fact, they would probably just assume that he had been one of the victims of the lunatics attack and let him go.

Once we were outside of the mall, the Kombat Master gestured for me to sit down on one of the benches on the outside. Then he took a seat beside me.

"My true name would be nearly unpronounceable to one with your language," the Kombat Master told me with a faint smile, "So you may call me Keiron... It is the closest I can come to your tongue..."

I nodded, wanting to ask him a thousand questions but deciding that it would be best to keep my mouth shut for the moment. Something told me that I might get more out of him if I let him give it at his own pace.

"I believe that you have some questions," he told me.

"That would be an understatement," I responded. Then ignoring the decision I had just made, I said, "I thought you were the Kombat Master..."

Keiron nodded faintly. "That is merely a title I chose for my likeness when I created the game..."

"YOU created the game?" I gasped in surprise.

Keiron nodded again, then said, "Perhaps I should explain...from the beginning."

"I'd appreciate it," I told him.

For a moment Keiron rubbed his beard thoughtfully, then he said, "The universe is composed of multiple layers...what you might call alternate or parallel dimensions. Each of these dimensions has it's own rules...it's own laws of nature. And many of these have their own peoples as well..."

"Sounds like a science fiction movie," I muttered, then reminded myself that my whole life had been a science fiction movie...or maybe just a martial arts movie, ever since I had been struck by lightning.

"One of these worlds is much like the world I created in the game," Keiron told me with a grim look on his face. "It is a world where personal combat is held in high esteem. And it is a world where they have...evolved to be great fighters... Even their leaders are chosen by such..."

"Then one day," Keiron continued, "a warrior, even more skilled and powerful than any other in that world arose... His name is Rekegei the Black Flame... He defeated all he faced and became ruler of this world... But it was not enough... He yet hungered for more battle..."

"So what happened?" I asked, wondering what this had to do with me, the Kombat Champions game or my transformation.

"Rekegei came upon a way of traveling to other worlds," Keiron said with a grim expression. "He took an army of his followers and went to other worlds, wreaking great havoc and destruction upon them... Each member of his army is a great fighter in their own right, the product of generations of personal combat... They go from world, challenging their might against the fighters of those worlds...then spreading out, taking or destroying everything within their paths befor they leave for the next world."

Then Keiron let out a long sigh, looking horribly sad. "They eventually came upon my world... It is a world that deals more with magic than fighting, though we did have champions of our own... We sent all of our champions against Rekegei, one after another...only to watch them all fail. Eventually we were able to use our magics to trick Rkegei and his army into leaving our world...but only after they had created great destruction and caused a great many deaths."

I stared at Keiron for a moment, a but stunned from his claim to be from another world. I wouldn't have believed him at all if it wasn't for the fact that I'd already seen some pretty weird things since my transformation. In fact, my transformation had been one of the weirdest.

"And this Rekegei guy...?" I encouraged Keiron to continue.

Keiron frowned, then told me, "He is coming here....to your world."

"WHAT?" I gasped.

"Rekegei and his army are coming to this world," Keiron explained with a sad look. "I do not know when they will arrive, but it will not be long... It may be days...it may even be months. Sadly, I can not tell you precisely when they will arrive...only that they will."

"WHAT?" I repeated.

Then I gulped and took a deep breath, trying to get my head around all of this. It was so much...and it was so unbelievable. An alien invasion...from another dimension... I shook my head at the very thought.

"The army can stop this Rekegei and his bunch," I told Keiron, "They leveled Iraq in just a couple of days... I really don't think these guys are going to be any problem for them..."

But Keiron just gave me a look as though I had just said something exceedingly foolish and stupid. And somehow, that worried me a little.

"Your military would stand no chance against Rekegei and his forces," Keiron told me carefully.

"Sure they would," I told him, "They've got some really nasty weapons... They've got guns that can shoot through just about anything and bombs that can level whole countries...."

"You do not understand," Keiron scowled, giving me an intense look. "I have told you that each world has rules and laws of it's own... The rules of this world allow for such weapons, but the rules of the world that they come from do not... Such weapons will not work..."

"But they'll be in our world," I pointed out, feeling as if I was reminding a child of something simple. "That's the whole point... They're trying to invade us..."

Keiron shook his head, once again giving me a look that made me feel as though I was missing something important. As though I had no idea as to what was really going on. And I definitely didn't like that feeling...not in the least.

"Have you noticed the aura around your body?" Keiron asked me. "An aura which affects things close to you..."

"Yeah," I responded, a bit surprised by the change of subject, and the fact that he knew about that weird aura that kept messing with any electronics I touched. It had been a real bitch to control it enough to use just about anything... In fact, it seemed to even mess with how video cameras recorded me sometimes, so I had to keep it tuned down when filming the movie.

"This aura represents the point where the rules which bind you and the rules which bind the rest of this world meet," Keiron told me with a grim expression. "Within this aura, you are bound not by the rules of this world, but by the very same rules which bind Rekegei... These are the rules which allow you your special abilities.. These are the rules which allow for your strength and power to be beyond what anyone in this world could ever achieve... Within this aura, the rules of that universe apply so your technology holds no power..."

"I...I've noticed," I said carefully, thinking once again about the gremlin effect.

"Rekegei and his followers each have an aura like this as well," Keiron told me, "An aura which holds the laws of their world to be dominant... And their auras are each a million times stronger than your own... Once they enter this world, their auras will spread out for miles...preventing all of the technology of this world from working. All of your weapons will be useless... All of your guns will be as harmless toys to them... Even your vaunted bombs will as nothing..."

"My God," I whispered, immediately realizing the significance of what he had just told me.

If what Keiron said was true, and I had no readon to believe that it wasn't, then as soon as these people arrive, it would be almost like an EMP going off... But it would be even worse... If an EMP went off, that would just fry all electrnics... If these guys showed up, it would mess up all car engines, guns and nearly everything else that used any kind of modern technology.

"Oh God," I repeated, suddenly realizing the disaster that it would be if this Rekegei and his people showed up in the middle of a city.

I could just imagine what would happen in a city of all technolgoy suddenly went dead... People would suddenly lose control of their cards... Hospitals would lose power and people who were on life support would lose it... Airplanes could even drop out of the skys... Thousands could easily die just from their appearing alone... And none of the military's weapons would mean a damn thing if they couldn't use them.

Keiron nodded sadly as he saw that I finally understood what he had been trying to tell me. "I know the destruction these people can cause," he told me quietly. "And the only thing that they truly respect is personal combat... They respect a face to face battle between two individuals...and little else."

"Personal combat," I grimaced, "Like in the game..."

"Precisely," Keiron told me grimly. "Rekegei hungers for challenge and will not deny any who might provide him one... The only way to stop Rekegei and his forces once they arrive is for a champion to challenge him...and defeat him. But unfortunately, your world is sadly lacking in such champions. Your world has none who are nearly strong enough or powerful enough to face even the least of Rekegei's followers... The rules of this world do not allow for this kind of strength..."

"Oh," I whispered, feeling a cold chill run down my spine.

"My people tried but could not defeat him in personal combat," Keiron told me with a look of incredible sadness. "Our strongest champions tried...and all of them died...my own son included. Many in my world persished before we were able to combine our energies and expel Rekegei and his forces from our plane... But such a trick will not work in your world... The rules of this world are far too different... The only choice that you have is a strong champion..."

"Which we don't have," I gulped.

Keiron gave me a strange look and then a faint smile. "My world is safe but I could not allow Rekegei to continue his rampage across other worlds... I...and several like me left our world and came to worlds like this one...worlds that were in Rekegei's path. Our goal...my goal is to give this world a chance to survive... I came to this world to create the champions that it needs..."

"Oh shit," I whispered, finally putting the rest of the pieces together in my head. A part of me had already put them together enough to know what he was about to say.

"When I came to this world and saw that you had no champions...," Keiron explained, "none who were capable of facing Rekegei and his forces...I knew what I had to do. I knew that I would have to craft your champions myself... This was why I created the game. This was why I created Kombat Champions..."

"You did this to me!" I exclaimed, gesturing down at myself, "You turned me into this..."

For a moment, Keiron just sat there silently, looking a little regrettful. Then he nodded faintly, a guilty expression passing over his face, though it was quickly replaced by one of resolve.

"I saw that your world understood the rules which Rekegei operates under," Keiron told me, "Though only in stories and games. So I decided to create a game which would find champions...which would find those who understood these rules, who understood the nature of personal combat...."

"Kombat Champions," I grimaced, suddenly realizing just how appropriate the name of the game actually was.

Keiron nodded yet again, proving that he seemed quite good at doing this. Then he continued his explanation, "I created the game so as to allow the players to craft their own alternates...their own perfect fighting forms and powers. Such would provide great affinity for them..."

"And the lightning?" I asked him with a bit of a glare. "I got struck by lightning..."

"I tied a great deal of magic to the game," Keiron told me with a frown. "In fact, it draws the power from the world I came from... Once the magic had build up enough, it surges out through the game, finding someone who is playing at that time... It finds someone who has created a strong fighting alternate...and who has a strong affinity to their alternate... Then it transforms them...giving them the form and power of their fighting alternate..."

"And this surge comes in the form of lightning?" I said, earning another nod.

Keiron held his hand out and a bit of purple electricity jumped around his fingers before he closed them and made the electricity vanish. It had been a pretty impressive display while he had been doing it, or at least it would have been if I wasn't now capable of some pretty interesting tricks myself.

"My hope is that those who have been so transformed will be strong enough champions to face Rekegei," Keiron sighed.

"Why did you choose me?" I demanded, getting a bit angry, "You turned me into a woman..."

"I have no control as to who the magic transforms," Keiron sighed. "The magic is outside of my direct control..." Then he frowned, "I appologize for how it effects your life..."

"Effects my life?" I grimaced, "It destroyed my life..."

Keiron bowed his head a bit, though he didn't look too appologetic. Instead, he gave me a steady look, "I am sorry for this...but my concern is for the survival of your world."

I stared at Keiron for a moment and took a deep breath. "You turned Ghengis back to who he was..."

"He was too unstable," Keiron sighed. "I feared that he was of such a mind that he was of more danger than he would be help against Keiron... I was forced to use a good deal of my personal power to undo his transformation..."

"Can...can you change me back?" I asked Keiron, my heart nearly jumping into my chest. "Can you turn me back into who I used to be?"

Keiron shook his head, "No...I could not even if I had the power left or desire to do so..." He let out a sigh, "That one had only just transformed and his old pattern yet remained as a shadow... But these old patterns quickly fade and are gone within a week... Your old pattern is long gone and all that remains is the one that you now possess...."

"You...you can't change me back?" I asked him in a near whisper.

"This is who you are now," Keiron told me gently, "This is who you shall always be..."

I just stared at Keiron for a moment, my mind swirling with thoughts. Somewhere in the back of my mind there had been the thought that perhaps I could one day return to being plain old Craig Belmont... But now, that was gone. There was no doubt that I was going to remain a woman...that I was going to remain Kestra for the rest of my life.

Then to my surprise, I felt a strange sense of relief at that. I was a little confused by this as I knew that I should be wanting to go back to being my old self more than anything... But I didn't. I was happy as Kestra....

It took me a moment to put the pieces together and make sense of my own feelings... When I was Craig Belmont, I had been an ordinary guy who didn't really have either friends or a life... But now I had both. I had Nancy, Tina and so many other things... I had my fighting in the arena, the movies, and all of the skills that came with my body...

I looked down at myself, smiling faintly. It wasn't as though being a woman was bad...except for a couple days a month. This body had definitely grown on me... Of course, it helped that I felt incredibly healthy, and was stronger, faster and so much more alive than I had ever been before. And I suddenly realized that if I did go back to my old body, I'd probably feel slow, weak, clumbsy and unbalanced in comparisson.

After a minute, I finally let out a long sigh of relief, deciding that I was definitely happy to remain as Kestra. I had so much more....and was so much happier than I had ever been as Craig. I realized then that I wouldn't go back to being the old me even if I could. And the fact that I couldn't go back left me with a strange sense of relief and security.

"Okay," I slowly told Keiron, giving him a steady look. "You said that you were creating champions to fight Rekegei... How many are there? How many others have you transformed too?"

"Six people have been transformed so far," Keiron told me with a serious look. "I do not know if there will be time for the magics to build up and transform more before he arrives..."

"And you're changing as many of us into our charachters as you can," I frowned thoughtfully, "so that there are more chances to beat Rekegei..."

"Correct," Keiron told me, giving a faint nod. "Though so far, you are the only champion who has saught out true personal combat in such a way... You are the only one who has been gaining the experience that will be needed to confront Rekegei..."

"Lucky me," I sighed, thinking that perhaps all that time I'd been spending in the underground fights was good for more than just making money.

I gulped as I thought about this Rekegei...this unstoppable warrior that Keiron had told me about. It was only then that it fully dawned on me that he was expecting ME to fight this guy and beat him... It would be like a suicide mission...

Of course, I reminded myself, I was one of the very few people on the planet who now had any chance at all against him. And if none of us could stop this Rekegei, a whole lot of people would likely die. Hell, it sounded like a lot of people might die anyway, just from his showing up...

"How much damage can these guys cause?" I thought aloud, thinking of what this army might be able to do when no guns could be fired from anywhere near them.

"A great deal," Keiron told me sadly. "Each of them is capable of capable of much destruction... Each of them has great chi abilities... And once they arrive, they will start to spread out and wreak havoc wherever they tread..."

I looked down at myself, shaking a bit as I sat there on the bench. Then I slowly stood up, giving Keiron a steady look. I didn't like the idea of being a tool...of having my life messed with just to fulfil someone elses agenda... Nor did I like the idea of going into some kind of suicide fight...

"Damn," I muttered grimly.

But even less than these things, I hated the idea of what this Rekegei and his army might do to the world... I shuddered at the thought of all of the extra chaos and destruction...all of the deaths that they would cause, just because they could. I coudn't live with myself if I ran away from that just becuase I was terrified... I couldn't live with myself if I knew that I had even a chance of ending it...

Then I took a deep breath and steeled myself, feeling a powerful sense of determination forming. I would do something... I was damn well going to do everything I could to stop Rekegei and his army... I would face him in personal combat if that was what it took...and I was damn well going to find a way to win...

"It looks like I'm going to have to start getting ready for this fight," I told Keiron, "I'm not going to let anyone destroy this planet..."

Keiron stared at me for just a moment, then gave me a faint smile and a nod. "Very well," he told me, sounding somewhat pleased. "I had hoped you would feel this way... Now come, we have much work to do..."

--------------------

I took a long, slow and deep breath, paying attention to the way I breathed the air in, then released it back out. My eyes were closed as I sat in mediation, trying to think of nothing but the universe and my own energy as Keiron had been instructing me.

Unfortunately, thinking of nothing wasn't easy. It was actually pretty damn difficult. It was like telling someone not to think of a pink elephant, because as soon as you tell them that, they can't help but thinking of exactly what they were told not to.

After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and looked around the large but empty room that I had been sitting inside. It was pretty damn boring, but I guess that was the point. There were not supposed to be any distractions at the moment.

But I was distracted. I was distracted by thoughts of Nancy, of Tina...and even of this Rekegei fellow whom I had never met. I was thinking of all of these and not the training like I was supposed to.

When Keiron had asked me to take some special training a few days ago, I had immediately agreed. If I was going to fight Rekegei, I wanted to have as much chance of winning as I possibly could.

The first thing that I'd done after agreeing to the training was to call Nancy and let her know what was going on. Of course she had been skeptical when I'd told her about Keiron and Rekegei, but I assured her that it seemed to be real and that I was going to do my best to stop the invasion. She wished me luck and I thanked her as I would undoubtedly need as much as I could get.

Then I had to talk with Tina... I let out a sigh as I remembered how I'd gone out to where I'd left her in the mall parking lot and how I had tried explaining what was going on. She had been a hell of a lot more skeptical than Nancy, and it hadn't been easy to convince her about any of it. Fortunately, I'd already had some practice in convincing people about my abilities...

I told Tina about myself and my transformation, though I left a few details out, such as the fact that I had been a man before I'd been struck by lightning. But I did tell her about how I had been struck by lightning and transformed, about all of the abilities I had gained and even about how I had been fighting in the arena... And then, once I had convinced her that I wasn't insane, I told her about Ghengis, Keiron and Rekegei... This was a little more difficult for her to accept, though the news people were still around and she'd seen their live footage of our fight.

"I hope that she'll still be there for me when I get back," I sighed aloud. She had been a bit shaken by the revelations of what was going on, and I wasn't sure that she'd want to still after she'd had a chance to absorb it. "I guess I'll have to find out..."

After a few minutes, my thoughts turned to the training that I had been going through with Keiron. Most of the training that I had been doing had been more or less on my own, doing all sorts of excercises until I couldn't do any more, trying out all of my abilities and pushing myself to my limits. The idea was that I would get even more in tune with my body and what I was capable of. Keiron swore that this was the key to maximizing my effectiveness, and from my experience so far I agreed with him.

And then there was the part of my training that Keiron had really been teaching me.. He had been teaching me how to meditate, saying that it would help me master my body, my environment and my chi energies... I wasn't sure that I completely believed him on this, but I was doing as he instructed and trying to go into that meditative state.

"Enough thinking about it," I muttered in annoyance. "Just do it..." But that just reminded me of the quote from a green muppet who said, "Do or do not...there is no try," or something like that.

With that, I closed my eyes and went back to my meditation, eventually getting the propper focus and slipping into the state where I could feel the chi energies inside of me in a way that I had never been able to before. I kept breathing in and out, feeling the eb and flow of those energies, of my own life energies which seemed to create the chi energies.

I had no idea how long I remained in that meditative state, though it had to have been for hours. And once I was done, I had to admit that I felt strangely refreshed, which was a good thing as it was time for me to get onto other aspects of my training. Specifically, I was going to have to go into the gym and work myself into utter exhaustion.

"Just what I love doing," I sighed, wishing that I could find something else to do instead.

Keiron had been pushing me to train almost nonstop, though admittedly he didn't have to push too hard. Just the thought that Rekegei was coming and that he would kill countless people was enough to motivate me.

And of course, my training didn't really stop just because I had worked myself into exhaustion. When I got to that point, I simply used my augment or second wind techniques to recharge myself so that I could go again. I'd lost track of how many miles I had run nonstop at a full sprint the day before using that method, and I really didn't want to know.

"But I'll be running more tonight," I muttered, knowing that I'd be pretty tired by then, but that it might be worth it if it helped me to survive against Rekegei...or even more importantly as far as Keiron was concerned...if it helped me beat him.

I was soon in the gym and dressed in a pair of sweats that were still soaked with sweat from that morning. It was a pain in the ass going through several sets of clothes a day, just because I kept getting them all dirty and soaked with sweat. It was an even bigger pain in the ass to keep having to clean them.

"I should probably stick with my uniform," I said in sudden realization, wondering why I hadn't thought of that earlier. After all, the clothes that came with my body were self cleaning, so no matter how dirty or sweaty I got, they would still be nice, clean and fresh. "I guess I'll change into them as soon as I'm done in here..."

With that, I went to work lifting weights... I used a bench press to lift a lot more weight than I ever could have with my old body, though I wasn't sure that it was enough to qualify me as being super strong. Then I went the rounds over just about everything in the gym, quickly losing track of myself and the time as I focused on just one excercise at a time. Focusing on the moment and doing things one moment at a time was the only way to keep from losing my mind doing all of that stuff. But when I finally finished in the gym a good three hours later, I was pretty confident that I'd had a good workout.

Then after I had taken a shower and changed into my costume, I went back to work, this time doing weapons practice. Mostly it was me pulling out my weapons, my katars, speark and throwing blades, and practing just about every move I knew in the air, even trying them against a number of targets. I wasn't sure what good this would do, but I knew that I had no choice but to keep on trying.

Once I was finished with my excercise and training for the day, I sat back in exhaustion, not even having the chi energy left to perform a second wind or anything. The only cure for my current exhaustion would be the good meal which I had just eaten and plenty of rest, which I planned on getting in just a short time.

"So," I started, looking at Keiron who had been absent for much of the day and who seemed to keep appearing and disappearing at random times. "Why am I training here alone? Wouldn't it be better if I had some people to spar with or something...?"

"You are likely correct," Keiron admitted, "Though no normal fighter on your world would offer you challenge enough to balance the distraction they would offer. And I fear that I have been less successful convincing the other champions of the need..."

"They don't believe you about Rekegei?" I asked with a frown.

"Or do not wish to face him," Keiron sighed. "The that you faced in yellow called me many horrible names and ran off to hide... Shameful..."

"And the others?" I pressed.

Keiron paused to run a hand through his beard, "One is convinced that he can beat Rekegei single handedly, without any help or training. Another believes that I am some...delusion or figment of his imagination, or possibly some form of trick. One woman insists on using her new abilities for personal gain, while the last champion refused to get involved." Keiron let out a long sigh and shook his head, "That last one even threatened me physical harm if I did not return him to his previous form..."

"Tough break," I sighed, feeling a bit for that last one who had threatened Keiron. I might have done that myself if I'd run into him a lot sooner than I had. But now I was in it till the end.

"It is time to rest," Keiron told me with a gentle smile. "You have worked hard so far, but there is more to come... And tomorrow...I will begin teaching you something new..."

I nodded at that and went to bed, knowing that it had already been a very busy couple of days and that the next day wouldn't be any easier. I was going to have to work my ass off if I wanted to fight Rekegei, especially as it was looking as though I wouldn't have much help.

As I had expected, the next day was full of hard work and excercise, as was every other day that I trained for the next week and a half. There were no days off...no weekends. I only had hard training for what often came up to sixteen or more hours a day. And I knew that every minute would be worth it if it helped me against Rekegei and his army.

Then on my final day, just as my training with Keiron was through, I sat on the floor in meditation, just as he had taught me. My eyes were closed and I went inside of myself, performing a little trick that Keiron had just told me of just that morning.

With my eyes closes, I came that that place inside of myself...and suddenly I had charachter profile pulled up right there in my mind's eye. I could see the profile in my mind, just as if I were looking at it on the computer screen. It showed me everything about my charachter...about Kestra...about myself. It showed me all of her...my stats and power levels. However, there was a major difference in my profile from the last time I had seen it...which had been the night of my transformation.

I silently reviewed this mental profile that I had of myself, knowing without a doubt that it was completely accurate, but still being a little surprised by the changes. Nearly all of my statistics and levels had increased... My strength, speed, agility, balance and power levels... All of them had increased between ten and twenty percent. I knew that I had grown stronger, faster and more powerfull...and could feel it inside of me. But this was the first time that I was able to put any kind of numbers on my improvement.

And then of course, my chi levels had improved as well... Thanks to my training, specifically the meditation techniques that Keiron had taught me, I had doubled the amount of chi energy that I had available for my use...and drastically increased the rate that I could restore it when used.

After all of that hard work, excercise and training that I had gone through, there was no doubt that I was about as ready as I could be. Or at least I was as ready as I could be without having a whole lot more intensive training with a lot of sparring and combat with other champions... But I was a hell of a lot more confident of myself and my chances against Rekegei.

"I'm ready," I said aloud.

But at the same time, my thoughts weren't really on Rekegei and his army of powerful warriors. Instead, I was thinking about my friends, about Tina and Nancy, as well as how much I was looking forward to seeing them both again.

Kombat Champion
Part 11 of 16
By Morpheus

I let out a long sigh, thankful that I was finished with Keiron's training and that I could finally return home. Though technically, it wasn't really my home, merely the place I was staying. I had no home anymore, though I was still quite thankful to Nancy for putting me up at her place.

However, I knew that I couldn't stay with Nancy and Tom for much longer. Not only was I imposing too much on them, but with the recent revelations about Rekegei and the reason for my transformation, I thought that it would be much safer for them if I was somewhere else. Now I just had to break the news to Nancy.

Once I reached the door, I paused for a moment, not sure exactly what I was going to tell Nancy about the other things as well. I had already explained most of what was going on with Rekegei, though there were other details that I had learned later and had yet to reveal, as well as a few things that I had sort of glossed over.

"And don't forget Tina," I mused, realizing that I still hadn't really told Nancy about my relationship with her. I wasn't completely sure how Nancy would react to finding out that I was out and dating now, though I suspected that she would be supportive of it.

Then I let out another sigh as I thought about Tina. I hadn't seen her since that day in the parking lot when I'd given a rushed explanation before running off with Keiron. I still felt pretty bad about that and wanted to see her again, as well as give her a full explanation as to what was going on. Well, maybe not a full explantion... I still wasn't sure that I was ready to tell her about who I had been before my transformation.

"I wish she'd pick up," I muttered, thinking about how I'd already tried calling her twice that day. Unfortunately, she hadn't answered either time. I wasn't too surprised as I figured that she'd be on set working, and I knew that she had her cell phone turned off when she was... But I was a little disappointed as I hadn't talked to her in over a week and a half and I kind of missed her voice. "I'll try again in a bit..."

After a minute, I finally went inside, immedicately calling out, "Hey, I'm back..."

"Did you have a good time?" Tom asked from where he sat on the couch, reading a newspaper.

"Define good," I responded with a sigh. I couldn't exactly call spending all day long excercising and meditaing a good time. But I had to admit that it had definitely done what it was supposed to. I was stronger than ever, and I could feel it. "I've just been pretty busy..."

"It's great that you're doing so much work in the movies," Tom smiled at me, "You must be pretty proud of yourself..."

"Somewhat," I grinned back at him. "It is kind of fun..."

Tom nodded, "I heard that you had some big publicity thing going on a couple weeks ago..."

"Um...yeah," I responded, not sure what to say. I had a feeling that he might have seen something about my fight with Ghengis, and that Nancy had given hime some sort of explantion. I wanted to talk to her and find out what she'd told him before saying too much. "So, where's Nancy?"

"Oh, I think she's in the back playing on the computer," Tom shrugged, absently flipping the page of his newspaper.

"Thanks," I told him with a smile, "I want to ask her to help me look for a new apartment..."
Tom looked a little surprised at that, though I think that there might be a little relief there as well. I knew that he must be looking forward to having his home back to being just for him and his wife. It had to be strange having me come in and kind of interfere with their privacy.

"You're welcome to stay as long as you need," Tom told me, and I could tell that he was sincere.

"Thanks again," I grinned, "But I've been having some good fortune lately...what with the movie and other jobs... I've managed to pay off most of my old bills and I think that I can afford a place on my own now... Besides, I don't want to inconvenience you any more than I have too...

You've both been so nice to me..."

"No problem," Tom nodded with a bit of a smile, "It's my pleasure..."

With that, I went to the back side of the apartment where I could see Nancy sitting at her computer desk and typing away. I watched silently for a moment before sneaking up behind her, putting my hands over her eyes and exclaiming, "Guess who...?"

"Marilyn Monroe?" Nancy responded with a bit of a giggle. "How about Donald Trump? I know..." She turned to grin at me, "Kestra, the Jagged Wind."

"You got it on the third try," I grinned back.

Nancy was immediately to her feet and hugging me. "I'm glad that you're back," she blurted out, "I've missed you... And I saw that thing on TV..."

"Ugh," I grimaced, "They actually showed my fight with Ghengis?"

"The whole thing," she told me with a serious look, "Or at least most of it since the camera guys had to keep running and changing position, and both you and Ghengis both kept blurring out on camera... You both got really blurry whenever you were using your chi moves..."

"Our auras," I muttered, having noticed that mine sometimes interfered with me while filming if I wasn't careful.

"So what's going on?" Nancy demanded, "You said that you met the Kombat Master... For real?"

I hesitated a moment, then nodded, "Yeah... His name is Keiron and he's from another dimension... Don't laugh, I know that it sounds like a movie...or a video game, but he came here to help us save the Earth from alien invasion..."

After letting out a deep sigh, I told Nancy everything that I had found out... I repeated everything that I had told her over the phone before I had gone into training with Keiron, and I even told her of the few bits and pieces that I'd learned while training, though admittedly that wasn't much. But it was interesting to see her expression when I told her about my training.

"Wow," Nancy exclaimed, "That's hard core... It sounds like basic training..."

"It was a lot shorter than basic," I told her with a grin. "I would have hated to do that for six to eight weeks... But on the other hand, imagine how much stronger I'd be if I did..."

"Well it sounds like too much work for me," she shrugged.

"Me too," I quickly agreed.

We talked for another few minutes about that before the subject turned to the movie that I had been making. "So what's he really like?" Nancy asked me, "What's Tyler Reese like in real life?"

I thought about that for a moment, "Not bad...once you get past his ego." We both chuckled at that.

And then I brought up a subject that I'd been meaning to for awhile. "You know," I started slowly, "I've been dating someone while I was out working on the movie..."

"Really?" Nancy asked in surprise.

"You're actually going on dates?" she gasped. "I never would have guessed... I mean, since you changed..." She blushed a litte, then abruptly asked, "So what's his name...?"

"HER name is Tina," I corrected Nancy.

"Tina?"she repeated, then laughed, "I should have guessed..."

"She works on the set," I told Nancy, then went on to describe how I'd met Tina, which got even more laughts as Nancy heard me describe my fight with Tyler. Of course I'd told her about that before, just not all of the details that followed. "We get along pretty good..."

"Have you told her about...?" Nancy gestured at my body.

I let out a sigh at that and shook my head, "Not exactly. I kind of had to tell her that I was changed, I mean after the whole thing with Ghengis... But I didn't tell her that I used to be a guy... I'm not sure how she'd take that... Hell, half the time I'm not sure how I'd take it..."

And then, I suddenly remembered one more bit of information that I had kind of forgotten...or just neglected to tell Nancy. "I can't change back," I told her quietly. "Keiron told me that I've been changed for too long, and that this is my natural form now... It looks like I'm going to be Kestra for the rest of my life..."

"Oh," Nancy responded quietly, obviously unsure of how to respond to that. "I'm sorry to hear that..."

"I'm not," I told her, causing her to stare at me in surprise. "I've kind of gotten used to being this way... And I kind of like everything that came along with this body..." Then I looked down in emberassement and shrugged, "Well, maybe except for the monthly visitor thing..."

"I can understand that," Nancy grinned.

"Well, I've got to go relieve myself," I told Nancy as I started back the way I came, pausing only long enough to say, "I guess being able to pee standing up is something I miss too..." Nancy just laughed at that and turned back to her computer.

After I had taken care of my personal business, I slowly made my way back to where Nancy was, wondering what I was going to do about Rekegei and his army when they arrived. I made a mental note to warn Nancy that she and Tom would need to propare for an emergency...just in case.

I was just about back to Nancy when suddenly there was a brilliant flash of purple light and a booming explosion sound that caused me to jump. I was immediately braced for a fight and charged forward, freezing as soon as I saw Nancy's computer desk. It was a horrible ruin, with a black burned out lump where her tower had been.

"Oh God," I gasped.

My eyes lingered on the wreckage of the computer for just a moment before going to figure which had been thrown back from the desk and was sprawled over the floor. But a single glance was enough to tell me that this wasn't Nancy... I gulped as I saw the green hair which could only belong to Nancy's Kombat Champions charachter Vypra.

The scene in front of me was almost surreal, not to mention all too familiar. It looked almost identical to the wreckage that had been left behind when I had been turned from Craig into Kestra.

"What's going on?" Tom suddenly yelled as he came rushing in, nearly shoving me aside as he tried to see what was going on. This he froze as he saw the scene in front of him, his eyes going wide and a confused expression passing over his face. "What the...?"

I just ignored Tom and rushed over to where the video game charachter Vypra was sprawled out on the floor. I took a careful look at her, seeing that like me, she looked exactly as she did in the game. And though I knew it wasn't neccessary, I put a hand to her neck and felt for a puse to verify that she was alive.

"Who is that?" Tom demanded with a strong tone of panick in his voice, "Where's Nancy...?"
"This is Nancy," I told him without looking up. "Now grab her feet and help me get her to her bed... I think she's going to be out for awhile..." I knew that I had been out for hours after my transformation and saw no reason why Nancy would be any different.

"But...," Tom gasped, looking completely confused and as though he were on the verge of panic. His eyes went to the wreckage on top of his computer desk and then to the woman who had been sitting in the chair. "That's not Nancy..."

"Just grab her feet and help me get her to bed," I snapped at him, "I'll explain what's going on after that..."

I looked at Tom and silently started to curse. Tom was a nice guy, and pretty damn generous. But after seeing this, I really didn't think that I'd want to count on him during an emergency. He looked as though he were about to fall to pieces, and things hadn't even really gotten back yet.

Tom stared at me for a moment more before finally doing as I had told him. He helped me pick Nancy up and carry her to their bedroom where we set her on the bed. I made sure that she was comfortable, or as comfortable as I could make her there, then let out a sigh.

"Damn Keiron," I spat bitterly.

The whole thing about the transformations and with Rekegei was nasty, dirty business and I had been trying to protect Nancy from it, to keep her away from it. That was one of the main reasons that I had been planning on moving out. But now it looked like that was no longer going to be possible. Now it looked like she stuck in it up to her neck, the same as I was.

I silently cursed Keiron as well, knowing that he was to blame for Nancy suddenly having her life torn out from under her and being thrown into the middle of this mess as well. I knew damn well how hard it was to have your very identity snatched away like that... And just because I ended up liking what I had become, that didn't make it any less of a violation.

Of course Keiron had told me that he didn't choose who was transformed specifically, and that it was like a computer virus, which once set loose would do it's own thing. But I was no longer completely convinced, not with Nancy having been transformed right there in front of me.

And at the same time, I sort of blamed myself. I knew how dangerous that game could be, that playing it could cause you to get struck by lightning and changed... Hell, I'd already told Nancy about it but I hadn't really thought that I'd had to warn her against playing it anymore unless she wanted to be changed.

But that thought caused me to suddenly freeze and wonder.... I knew that Nancy was a bit envious of all of the cool things I could do now, but could she possibly have gone onto the game again HOPING that something like this might happen to her? Did she get on just so that she could become Vypra? I was definitely going have to have a talk with her once she woke up.

"You said that you'd tell me what the hell is going on," Tom said, giving me a steady look that made me wonder if maybe I had misjudged him a little. At the moment, he definitely had more backbone than a few minutes earlier. It was obvious that he wanted answers...and he wanted them now.

"Okay," I told him, sitting down on the bed beside Nancy, "You might want to sit down for this one..."

How do you tell someone that their entire world view might be wrong? How do you tell them that the things from comic books, movies and video games which they had always told their childen were just make believe, were not only real...but could kill them? It wasn't easy, though fortunately I'd already had a bit of experience doing just that as of late.

I started off by giving Tom a sanitized version of my own transformation. Without mentioning the fact that I used to be a guy, I told him about how I had been playing Kombat Champions when I had been struck by lightning and transformed. Of course he didn't really believe me, but after I pulled my katars out of nowhere and did a few tricks, I had him convinced enough to listen to the rest of my story.

Once I was finished with my explanation, Tom stared at me in disbelief and amazement, then giving Nancy the same look. I couldn't blame him with that since it had to be strange, seeing a green haired strange that he'd never seen before on his bed and being told that this was his wife. He was taking it a little better than I might have expected.

"I... I've watched Nancy play that game a few times," Tom told me with a forced smile. "She was sort of addicted to it..." Then he stared intently at her as she slept on the bed, continuing, "I do recognize her... She does look just like that charachter she played with..."

"Vypra," I told Tom. "Her charachter is called Vypra... Mine was Kestra..."

"But you're...," he started, then gasped, "Oh..."

I nodded at that, "It was pretty weird getting used to being a living, breathing video game charachter. And if it hadn't been for Nancy helping me, I don't know what I would have done..."

"And will she be stuck like this?" he asked, sounding pretty worried. I didn't really blame him for that either.

"I...," I was just about to tell Tom that she was, when I realized that there was still a chance for her. "Maybe," I frowned. "This Keiron I told you about could change her back...if he gets to her soon enough. There's only a couple of days before it becomes permenant..." I let out a long sigh as I admitted, "The problem is I have no idea how to contact Keiron, and there's no guarantee that he'll change her back even if I could... In fact, he's pretty likely to refuse because the whole reason he's doing this is to create champions to fight Rekegei..."

"My wife is NOT going to fight any monster," Tom said insistently. "She isn't a fighter..."

"She is now," I told him quietly. "She has all of the skills...all of the abilities of her charachter. As far as it goes, she is Vypra. Anything that Vypra can do in the game...she can do in real life."

Tom went quiet at that, suddenly realizing just what his wife might become. I thought of telling him more but decided to just be quiet and let him and Nancy talk it out once she awoke. After all, they were definitely going to have a lot to talk about now.

"How long will she be out like this?" Tom asked me quietly.

I thought about it for a moment before telling him, "A few hours at least... I was out all night...probably around twelve hours."

After this, Tom and I just sat around and waited... We waited for hours before she finally started showing signs of conciousness again. I was just relieved that she hadn't been out as long as I had been. I was't sure that I could be patient for that much longer.

"What hit me?" Nancy groaned as she slowly sat up, "I feel like shit..."

I couldn't help but noticing that her voice was different than before, though that was no surprise as her entire body was different than before. And I expected that it would be something of a shock for her too as I knew first hand that it was more than a little strange to wake up in a body that wasn't exactly your own.

"You got hit by lightning," I told her as she looked around and blinked. "Specifically, the same lightning that hit me..."

"What?" Nancy blinked in confusion. Then she looked down at herself and let out a loud gasp. She grabbed at the green fighting uniform that she was now wearing and demanded, "What the hell am I wearing?"

"You're wearing Vypra's uniform," I told her grimly, reaching for a bit of her now green hair and pulling it around to the front of her face so that she could see it. "You've turned into Vypra..."

"WHAT?" Nancy gasped, jumping off the bed and onto her feet.

She stood there for a moment, staring down at herself and patting her body. She grabbed at her breasts, which were noticeably larger than before. She had to be about a D cup now rather than her previous B. And of course the rest of her body was slimmer and much more fit. I could see the wheels turning in her head as she examined herself.

"Nancy?" Tom asked as he came into the room. He stared at her again with a strange expression that was part disbelief, part worry and part admiration. From the bulge in his pants, there was no doubt that he rather liked the new and improved Nancy.

Nancy turned to look at him, looking a bit self-conscious as he realized that he was there as well. They just stared at each other before she quietly told him, "Yeah, it's me... I know this is weird..." She rushed to him and gave him a hug, which seemed to break down some of the tension.

"I think you need a mirror," I told Nancy, knowing that she had to be dying to now what she looked like now.

A minute later, the three of us were crammed into the bathroom while Nancy stared at herself in the mirror. She kept touching her face and hair, as if to prove that it were indeed her reflection. I just kept quiet, knowing exactly how she felt. Of course, my situation had been a little more extreme.

"Is that really me?" she asked in awe.

I just nodded at that, then stepped out of the bathroom and waited around while she checked herself out. She even kicked out Tom and closed the bathroom door so that she could get undressed and really check out the changes to her body. It was obvious that Nancy was somewhat stunned by her transformation, but I could tell that she was excited by it as well.

After Nancy had checked her new body out to her satisfaction, at least for the moment, she suddenly exclaimed, "Oh my... My job... I can't go to work like this... And my family... What in the world am I going to tell my parents? What am I going to do?"

In that moment, I watched Nancy's excitment turn to worry and fear. She suddenly realized all of the practical problems that would come from her transformation. She even looked to Tom, as if afraid that she would suddenly lose him...

"Oh my God...Kes," she looked at me with a strange expression, "Is this what it was like for you?"

"Pretty much," I responded quietly, not wanting to think about that at the moment. I knew very well what she could lose due to her changes since I'd pretty much already lost it all myself.

"But at least you're not alone..."

"There is that," she let out a sigh, then gave both Tom and myself a thankful look.

"I'm going to go for a walk and give you two some time," I told her, knowing that she and Tom would have a lot to talk about. "But later on...we're going to have to talk..."

When I came back from my walk a few hours later, I could tell from the smell and from Nancy's goofy grin that she and Tom had been doing a lot more than just talking. In fact, Nancy must have completely worn Tom out because he was taking a nap in the bedroom while she had just gotten out of the shower.

"I can't believe that this is really me," Nancy told me with a big grin. "I admit that I've been kind of jealous of you...get a great looking body and all of those incredible abilities. I even imagined what it might have been like if I'd been changed into Vypra... But I never thought that it could happen to me, and now that it has, I'm not completely sure what to think..."

"You do realize," I said slowly, "That the reason you were changes is so that you could be a champion...so that you could fight Rekegei and his army..."

Nancy went pale at that and I could tell that she didn't particularly like the idea. I could tell that even after realizing the problems she would face, she had still thought of this as some sort of game or grand adventure. Only now was she beginning to realize just how deadly serious this whole situation was becoming.

"Why can't this Keiron guy you told me about deal with him," Nancy grimaced. "If he's powerful enough to change us like this, he should be powerful enough to beat Rekegei..."

"A different kind of power," I told her with a sigh. "And I did ask Keiron that myself while we were training... He told me that he isn't allowed to interefere directly... Something about his people's rules and the conditions of his being allowed to come here... He said that he could help us create our own champions, but that he couldn't be involved in the fighting itself... In fact, once Rekegei gets here, he's not allowed to contact us or interfere at all."

"That stinks," Nancy grumbled, "But how in the world does he expect me to help? I might look like Vypra, but I'm not her..."

"I know," I told, "Trust me...I know. But according to Keiron, this is our ownly chance. Keiron can't make us fight...only give us the tools we need to do it." I didn't bother adding that if we didn't fight, if Rekegi wasn't stopped, than thousands or even millions of people would die.

"You really trust him?" Nancy asked me skeptically.

"Not completely," I responded honestly. "I mean, don't think that he's lied to me about anything... I think that everything he told me so far is the truth... And I think that he really is trying to help save our world. But I think that his goal is to stop Rekegei and save our world...not to look after our welfare. It's the end justifies the means... He doesn't care if he disrupts people's lives or if we die fighting Rekegei...just as long as Rekegei is stopped."

"But you were with him for a week and a half," Nancy said, "I thought you trusted him..."

"I kind of like him," I admitted. "He can be a nice guy and he really is trying to help. But remember, he's looking at the big picture, and I'm afraid that our personal lives don't really matter much in that scheme of things."

"Just great," she grumbled, "That makes me feel much better."

I just shrugged at that, not having anything comforting to say. I didn't like much of anything about the situation that we were in, but there wasn't much that I could do except play my part.

"So what do we do now?" Nancy asked me.

"You make a choice," I responded quietly. "You either choose to avoid Rekegei and this whole mess...at least as much as you can. Or you choose to face it head on. I've chosen the latter..."

"So we fight," Nancy sighed, shaking her head. Then after a moment, she said, "Well, I always did like the fighting games..."

Kombat Champion
Part 12 of 16
By Morpheus

I was really looking forward to seeing Tina again, even more so than I would have thought. My heart raced with excitement, but also a bit of nervousness. Then again, I suppose that I had good reason for feeling both.

It had been two weeks since I had last seen her, and we hadn't exactly left on the greatest of terms... Hell, I'd given her a rush explanation of what was going on in the mall parking lot and then left for my training, I didn't know how she was going to react.

When I came to Tina's door and finally saw her again, I wasn't sure what kind of reaction to expect. However, I don't think that I would ever have guessed her demand of, "Where the hell have you been?"

"What?" I blinked in surprise.

But before I could even consider how to respond to that, Tina grabbed me, yanked me inside of the door and then threw herself against me, pressing her lips into mine so forcefully that I couldn't tell if she was angry or happy to see me. Or maybe just both.

"Where the hell have you been?" she demanded again once we finally broke apart, "I've been worried..."

"It's kind of hard to explain," I started, then quickly added, "But I'll try..."

"Later," Tina grinned at me with a hungry look in her eyes.

And without another word, Tina grabbed me for another passionate kiss and sort of pushed me back towards her couch. She shoved me down onto it and sort of hopped right on top of me. She was being pretty damn aggressive, but I sure as hell wasn't complaining. In fact, I was definitely getting into the whole thing.

"God you're hot," Tina exclaimed, tearing her lips away from mine just long enough to say that before returning.

"Ditto," I responded once I was able to a minute later.

My heart was racing and my body was responding in aways that were completely different from my old one. I wasn't a complete stranger to the sensations that my new body could provide, and I had definitely taken the time for some self-exploration of a more sesual nature, or just plain masturbating. However, the fact that Tina was the one manipulating my body and bringing about those sensations made them completely different.

I don't think that I was quite concious of when my clothes came off as I was busy thinking ahead a bit. My bra went flying halfway across the room, followed by Tina's. We giggled as we tore at each other's clothes.

"Holy shit," Tina abruptly exclaimed, "Your really do have naturally blue hair.."

I looked down to where she was staring between my legs and grinned, "I told you that my hair color didn't come from a bottle..."

"Rub it in why don't you," she grinned at me.

"Don't mind if I do," I grinned back, rubbing at her breasts.

Tina moaned and returned the favor, going at my breasts with one hand while sneaking her other one between my legs. The sensations from both actions were completely unbelievable and brought several loud gasps from my lips.

And then, things really began to stream up... Tina brought me to my first orgasm, one where I wasn't sure whether I screamed or not. I returned the favor for that and we kept it up for the next hour or so, with me quickly losing any doubts that I might have had about the fact that sex as a woman was MUCH better than it had been as a guy.

Once Tina and I were finally done, we just lay cuddled up with each other on her bed, where we had eventually ended up. It was definitely a lot more comfortable than her couch had been, and I was quite content to just stay there forever, savoring the afterglow.

"I'm definitely glad to be back," I finally told Tina, smiling dreamily.

I'd been wondering what it would be like to have real sex as a woman, and I certainly hadn't been disappointed. Of course I still hadn't had any sex as a woman with a man, but I had no intention of finding out what that was like either. I might have had the body of a woman, but the thought still nauseated me a bit.

"So tell me again why you left," Tina responded after a few seconds, "You weren't exactly real clear before you ran off like that..."

I let out a long sigh, knowing that I'd much rather talk about something else...or better yet, doing something else. I gave Tina a very appreciative look, smiling as I thought about what we'd been doing such a short time earlier.

Then I looked up at the ceiling, let out another sigh and slowly began to give her the story of my transformation, my meeting with Keiron and even most of what Keiron had told me about the invasion. Of course I had already told her a good bit of that before, but that had been pretty rushed and without all of the details. Then again, I still left a lot of details out, like the fact that I used to be a guy.

After I was finished giving Tina my explanation, she stared at me in amazement. Of course she already knew a good bit of what I'd told her, but I had just filled in a lot of details and made it seem all the more real.

"Holy shit," she whispered, sitting up in bed. "We really are going to be invaded by some guys from another dimension?"

"Pretty much," I told her with a sigh.

"It sounds like the plot of a movie," she frowned, giving me an odd look.

I shrugged, "Trust me...I know..."

Tina stared at me for a few seconds, then burst out laughing. She shook her head, then at my blank look, she told me, "I was talking with Chase the other day, and he says that he really wants you for his next movie... When he found out about the whole mess in the mall, he insisted on it..."

"Yeah?" I urged her to continue.

Then Tina stared at me for a moment and started laughing again. "Sorry," she appologized, "But all of this sounds a little like what I overheard Chase saying about his next movie..."

"Yeah?" I gestured for her to go on.

Tina laughed again, then told me everything that she knew about the new movie that Chase Maxwell was planning to make. I was a bit startled when I heard some of the details, but more so when I thought about the fact that he wanted me to star in it.

"Of course it will be a direct to video thing," Tina told me, obviously trying to keep me from getting my hopes up too high, "All of Chase's movies are..."

"That's all right," I told her, thinking about it with a bit of a grin. "It might be fun to do more of this movie stuff..."

"Well, he hasn't actually asked you yet," Tina pointed out. "He hasn't been able to get hold of you yet..." She couldn't resist teasing me about being gone for my training again.

"Then I guess I'll just have to go talk with him," I grinned. "I've got a lot going on, but I think I might make time for something like that..."

"Just as long as you still have time for me," she cautioned, giving me a mock threatening look. "If you run off like that again, you're going to make me mad. And you wouldn't like me when I'm mad." Then she started to giggle.

I grinned back at her, "I'll definitely keep that in mind."

"Well you'd better make sure you do," Tina grinned. Then she abruptly said, "Well now that you are back, I want to take full advantage of it..."

A moment later, Tina and I were locked in a passionate embrace that brought all of my hormones to a new heigh. And before long, were were both deep in another long bout of hot and steamy lesbian sex. God I loved being a lesbian.

--------------------

I stood in the middle of the small field, facing off against Nancy. Neither of us made a move, though we were both tense and ready. My katars were clutched tightly in my hands, just as she had her kantanas in hers. And there was no doubt that in a moment, we would be going at each other with just about everything that we had.

The scene had a strange sense of familiarity to it, almost like a deja vu. It was a fight scene of Kestra versus Vypra, just as I had seen countless times on my computer monitor... But this time, it was no video game. This time Kestra and Vypra were in the real world and would be fighting with real weopons.

Of course, the whole fight scene wasn't quite real. Nancy and I had been sparring nearly every day since she had transformed into Vypra nearly a week earlier. I figured that this would help her get used to her own new body and abilities, as well as provide us both with a bit more experience in fighting people in the real world.

However, I had noticed pretty quickly that even though our characters had been pretty evenly matched in the game, there was now no doubt as to who the strongest fighter was. I could beat her with ease, which I figured was do not only to the fact that I had a lot more experience with my capabilities, but that I also had experience with real fights...and not to mention all of the extra training that I'd gone through with Keiron.

"Ready?" I asked Nancy, not about to lose my focus or I'd lose the fight. Being the stronger fighter didn't guarantee victory if you weren't paying attention or underestimated your opponent.

"Yeah, I'm ready," Nancy told me.

And with that, Nancy and I both went at each other at once. My katars clanged against her katannas... She had the longer reach, due to her longer blades, but I was faster. I saw an opening and knew that I could have pressed my advantage and gotten through, but the goal wasn't to beat her. The goal in our little match was to test our abilities and give us both a chance gain more experience with them.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Nancy exclaimed, "I mean, I still can't believe that this is all real..."

"Get used to it," I told her grimly.

I hadn't been at all surprised when I saw no sign of Keiron all week long. I knew him well enough to suspect that even if he knew about my best friend being transformed as well, and that he knew that she wanted to be changed back, that he still would have avoided us. He wanted more champions in the fight against Rekegei and he wasn't about to be forced into removing one of them from the game just because she didn't want to play.

But of course, I wasn't completely sure that Nancy didn't want to play... She was definitely getting into her new body and obviously loved some of the things that she could now do. How could I blame her when I felt the same way? After all, she was stronger, faster and healthier than she'd ever been in her life, and that didn't even take into account all of her cool new super powers..

Nancy had spent quite a bit of time during the last week, not only getting used to what she had become, but convicing Tom that she was still the same woman that he married and that she still loved him every bit as much. From the silly way that I frequently caught him grinning, I had a feeling that this part was working quite well.

"It's too late to change her back anyway," I quietly reminded myself.

If what Keiron had told me was true, which I had little doubt that it was, then her old pattern was gone and couldn't be retrieved. She had been Vypra long enough for it to become permenant, or at least nearly so. As far as I knew, there might be a day or two left where she could possibly be returned to her old body, but I was pretty damn confident that I wouldn't see a thing of our other dimensional patron until after then.

And while Nancy had been busy with Tom and just trying to adjust, I had been busy as well. I had been training... It hadn't been nearly as strenuous as when I'd been with Keiron, but I made sure to excercise and push my abilities a bit each and every day... However, I wasn't sure that it would do a whole lot of good. If things worked in real life like they did in the game, then I might have already reached my maximum strength for the moment, and I might have to get more experience points in order to increase my potential again. That was one of the reasons that I'd been sparring with Nancy every day. She might not be my equal in a fight, but she was a damn good closer than anyone at the arena.

"So how are things with you and Tina?" Nancy asked, perhaps to distract me...or perhaps because she just wanted to know.

"Good," I told her, giving a couple lunges with my katars and then blocking a slash from one of her blades. "We're doing pretty good. I can't see her as much as I'd like at the moment, but hopefully once this whole thing with Rekegei is over..."

"Didn't Keiron say that he might not be around for months?" Nancy asked, taking another slash at me.

"Yeah," I agreed, "But I want to be prepared..."

Nancy and I continued to dance around each other for several more minutes, trading slashes with our weapons as well as kicks and other attacks. We were avoiding our chi moves at the moment, but that didn't mean that we didn't have some interesting attacks.

"Well you shouldn't get so focused on getting ready that you forget everything else in your life," she advised me, "Or else it might not be there when you're ready for it..."

"Thanks," I told her, deciding to end our sparring for the moment by sweeping her feet out from under her and bringing a katar to her throat to indicate that I'd won.

Nancy shrugged and sat up as I pulled the katar away, giving me a grin, "Just being a friend..."

"And a good one too," I admitted.

"Well I'm glad that I can talk some sense into you," Nancy grinned at me.

I just nodded at that, then gave a bit of a smirk, "Oh, boy the way...I was already planning on heading over to see Tina tomorrow anyway..."

"You rat," Nancy laughed.

"At least I'm not a snake," I pointed out, then stuck my tongue out at her, which caused her to laugh even harder.

"Besides," I grinned, "I have to go see Chase Maxwell and pick up my script for the new movie..."

"Yeah?" Nancy asked with a grin, "You're really going to do it? Make another movie?"

"Yeah," I nodded, "And this time I'll be the hero... I'll be a rebel soldier fighting off an alien invasion..."

Nancy suddenly burst out laughing, "Imagine that..."

"Yeah," I grinned, "And this time he said I could keep my hair blue... I won't have to keep dying it every morning..."

"That's convenient," Nancy smirked.

"Damn straight," I told her. "You'll find out just how annoying that is once you try hiding your green hair for a bit..."

After we had both rested for a minute, Nancy asked, "Ready for another go...?"

"Sure," I slipped my katars away and summoned my spear out of whatever limbo it gets stored in. "Let's go..."

"I was wondering," Nancy mused, giving me a thoughtful expression, "If we could get out of shape in these bodies... I mean, we're both in perfect shape now and we're getting a lot of excercise... But what if we just sat around, watching the soaps and eating bon bons?" Then she grimaced, "It would be a shame to ruin these legs with cellulite..."

I thought about it for a moment, then shrugged, "I don' t think that's much of a problem... I mean, as energetic as I am now, I don't exactly feel any urge to just sit around eating bon bons... And besides," I grinned at her, "When we're on the game, our characters don't get any weaker or lose any points if we don't play with them for a long time... They stay in the same shape as when we left them. The game charachters don't get fat or weaker, only stronger and better... And since we're operating under the same rules as the game..."

"I don't even have to excercise?" Nancy gasped in realization. "I'm in heaven..."

We both laughed at that before I shifted my spear into position and said, "Well, let's get some excercise in anyway..."

Within moments, the two of us were going at it once again. I was using my spear now instead of my katars, which gave me the advantage in range, but she now had the advantage of multiple weapons against my one. It was quite an interesting bit of sparring, and only made more interesting when she abruptly started channeling chi energy into her swords, changing the rules of the fight quite a bit.

Nancy tried surprising me with some of her special techniques, even hitting me with her 'snake fist strike' attack. I managed to avoid or block most of her attacks, returning with a few of my own.

By the time our sparring session ended an hour later, Nancy and I were both dripping with sweat and ready to call it a day. It had been a good match, which I thought was appropriate since it would be the last one that Nancy and I would be able to have until I got back in a couple days. I was going to miss sparring with Nancy while I was gone, but I was looking forward to seeing Tina again even more.

------------------

I gathered my concentration and sharpened my focus, not wanting to get distracted as I was fighting with a half dozen trained martial artists at once. They were surrounding me at all sides and coming at me with everything they had...and it still wasn't much of a challenge.

"Take it easy on them," Tyler Reese called out from the side with a grin, "We're still going to need those guys for the movie..."

"I'll try," I called back, not taking my eyes from the swirling mass of punches and kicks. Even though I was outnumbered, I was giving better than I got. "But it won't be easy...."

"Showoff," Tina called out with a laugh. I just grinned back, knowing that she was right.

I had come back to the movie set in order to help film a couple of new scenes. Chase Maxwell had wanted to redo one of the scenes that I was in, and he had decided to add a whole new scene that focused a bit more on my charachter and just how much of a badass she was. I was quite willing to ahead and do this, even if I didn't really get any extra money. It was kind of fun.

But almost as soon as I was on set, a bunch of the stuntmen and martial artists who were in the movie started to challenge me. They had seen me take on Tyler Reese and wanted to test themselves against me. And then of course there were the rumors about what had happened at the mall... Apparently the cops didn't really know who was involved, but the people on set had recognized me...at least from the pieces of news footage where I was visable.

"Too bad my aura didn't blur the whole fight out," I muttered, regretting that it had kept blurring out bits and pieces of me rather than the whole thing. It would have made things a lot easier.

At first, I had turned down the challenges, but after being asked a few times, I finally gave in. But to make it a little more interesting, I told all six of the guys who wanted to spar with me that they would all have to do it at once. Me against all of them... They had thought I was crazy...at first. Now they were all breathing hard and wondering how the hell one woman could beat the crap out of all of them at once.

"Go get em Kes," Tina called out with excitement, "I've got two hundred bet on you..."

"Well I can't disappoint you now," I grinned, quickly spinning around, taking the feet out from under two of my sparring opponents and slamming my palm into the solar plexus of another. With another quick move, I blocked a kick, swung my arm out and caught the hand of another opponent, just as he was throwing a punch.

"Damn," Chase Maxwell called out, "Somebody get this on film... This is spectacular..."

"I'd rather you didn't," one of my opponents grumbled, "I really don't want any record of my being beaten by a chick like this..."

"I hear that," one of my other opponents echoed.

I just grinned, feeling rather smug. Of course that wasn't too surprising considering my abilities. And though all of these guys were pretty good, they just weren't in my league. It was no wonder that Keiron said we didn't have anyone in our world who was strong enough to be a decent champion.

Once I finished with all of my opponents just a minute later, I was definitely feeling charged up. I wouldn't mind a real challenge...a real opponent. Of course that meant that I'd have to go back and spar with Nancy again. Kestra versus Vypra was always a fun fight...especially now that we were able to do it in real life.

"Good one," Tina grinned at me, "That was a great fight..."

"Thanks," I grinned back.

Then Chase came up towards me, giving me a speculative look. "We're going to have to add something like that to the new movie... It'll be fabulous..."

"Sure," I grinned, "But when are we going to start filming it?"

"It'll be a few months," he told me with a serious look. "I've already got the ball rolling, and as soon as I finish this one I'll be able to give it my full attention..."

"Just wondering," I told him.

"Enough with the break," Chase suddenly yelled out, "We need to get back to work..."

I just nodded, knowing that I wasn't going to be needed right away. But as we walked back to the set, I noticed the way that the men were staring at me. That wasn't exactly new since I'd sort of gotten used to getting that reaction from men since my transformation. However, I wasn't sure that I'd ever get completely used to the idea that men were staring at me like that and thinking dirty thoughts.

"Not like I have a choice," I mused, smiling faintly.

Then I noticed one man staring at Tina and muttering, "Damn waste..."

Another man added, "Yeah, but that camera girl is one lucky chick..."

I blinked as I realized what they were talking about and turned to Tina, "Are we that obvious?"

"I guess," she grinned at me. "But then again, we've been hanging out together quite a bit, and I haven't made it any secret that I'm out of the closet. And after what you told Reese when you faught him, everyone knows which way you swing..."

"I guess," I grumbled, feeling a little embarrassed though that it was that obvious and that I didn't even realize it.

Then Tina brightened up, "Maybe you can talk Chase into giving you a female love interest in the next movie... Maybe a hot looking girl..."

I just laughed at that, "Yeah, but I don't know how well it would go over with the action movie people... " Of course, knowing guys as well as I did, having a lesbian main charachter might get more people to watch the movie...at least as long as we actually showed a makeout session on film.

A short time later, I was sitting back and sort of scanning through the script of the new movie that Chase had given me. It was far from a final script, but it was enough to give me a good idea about some of the main plot points that he wanted to cover in the movie. The movie didn't look particularly creative or unique, but I thought it should be fun making.

Suddenly, some guy came running onto the set, yelling, "C'mon... You've got to see this..."

"CUT!" Chase yelled, turning and glaring at the man who'd come barging in and ruined the take. "You'd better have a damn good reason for wasting my time and money or I'll skin you alive..."

The man paused for a moment, staring at Chase and then everyone else before suddenly blurting out, "It's on TV. You've got to come see this..."

I frowned, then followed along behind Chase, Reese and just about everyone else. Someone had a TV going in one of the trailers and had pulled it to the door so that everyone could see. The channel was on one of the news channels and the reporter was going on with a look of terror.

When I came in, the first words that I heard were, "another nine eleven..."

"What the?" I blinked in surprise.

Then the details began to pour on. "All communication with Las Vegas Nevada has been lost..." Then there were other comments, "All phone lines to Vegas are dead...," and "Satelite photos of Las Vegas are blurry and indistinct..."

"What he hell is going on?" someone asked from near me.

"A terrorist attack?" Tyler demanded.

"Maybe someone used a nuke," one of the stunt men suggested, with more than a bit of nervousness in his voice.

Everyone was tense, and more than a few people were making comparissons to nine eleven. More than a few suggestions that this was the new Twin Towers... There was fear and confusion, which was only made worse by the fact that the news didn't seem to have anything to report other than that something extremely strange seemed to be going on in Las Vegas and that the situation was being investigated.

The news continued, "Plains and helecoptors who have gone too close to Las Vegas are reported to have crashed..." And then there was one 'expert' who was saying, "From what we can tell, it looks like Las Vegas was the center of an electro magnetic pulse..."

"Oh shit," I whispered, feeling my heart jump up into my throat. Then I turned to Tina and exclaimed, "I need to get to an airport NOW!"

"Why?" Tina demanded, looking at me with a worried expression. I was already rushing towards my rental car, with Tina following close behind me. "What's going on...?"

I finally stopped and gave Tina a steady look. Then I took a deep breath and announced, "It's Rekegei..."

Kombat Champion
Part 13 of 16
By Morpheus

It was a strange and eerie sight which lay before me, filling me with a cold dread. And I wasn't the only one. A large group of people were gathered near me, each and every one of them staring at the vast dead city in the distance. And each and every one of them was filled with a fearful expectation.

Las Vegas was cold and quiet, without any sign of it's famous neon lights. There were no lights anywhere, no cars moving, no planes flying past or even any other signs of life other than the occasional bird flying in that direction. The whole city could have almost been the worlds largest ghost town. And even from a distance, I could feel that there was something wrong.

When I had first heard about all communication with Las Vegas beeing lost some hours earlier, I had immediately rushed there as fast as I could. It wasn't an easy trip, nor a cheap one, especially when it came to getting a plane flight on such short notice. Fortunately most peolpe had immediately cancelled their trips to Vegas and there were still airports outside of the main city...outside of the effect.

Tina had demanded on coming with me at first, but I had insisted that she stay behind and I wasn't about to take no for an answer. I had know idea what was going to happen once I got to Las Vegas, but I knew that it would be dangerous. And there was no way that I was going to just let my girlfriend walk into something like that.

Of course, I had wanted to protect Nancy as well, but knew that this was impossible as she was already involved in what was going on. She had been ever since she'd suddely transformed into Vypra. So before I had climbed on the plane, I called her, getting her answering machine and leaving the simple messge, "He's here... Look on the news..."

There had been no doubt in my mind that Nancy would know what I meant...and what I intended to do. After all, we'd talked about fighting Rekegei and his army a number of times.

Once I had finally arrived, I was able to get a little more information than what they were giving out over the TV news, but not a whole lot more. Mostly a lot of people were gathered around, back outside of the city, watching it and sharing what little they did know.

A vast invisible shroud had decended over the entire city, rendering all technology within useless... All electric power suddenly went dead. All firearms had become completely useless. Almost nothing that involved modern conveniences or science would work at all. But this was just as I had expected.

I did find out though that Nellis Air Force Base was right next to the city and was under the same shroud of technological deadness as everything else... And of course this was a huge worry to the government, who saw this as a confirmation of their fears that this was a terrorist attack...though they wrongly concluded that Nellis was the real target.

The Air Force had sent several fighters into the city to check it out, though as soon as they were within range of the aura, they lost power and crashed. Several news and rescue helecopters had suffered similar fates, and even one commercial airliner had crashed aftter the aura had appeared while it was flying overhead.

"Thank God it crashed outside the city," I muttered, wincing as I thought of all the dead people on board the plane. But how much worse would it have been if it had actually crashed into the streets of Vegas instead?

I took a deep breath and looked around the people who were near me. They were talking quite a bit, sharing what litlte they knew and their theories as to what caused the strange lose of power within Vegas. And some of these theories were quite wild, with the irony being the the craziest ones were closest to reality.

Thousands of refugees had come running out of the city, on foot and on bicycle as no cars would work. They were propmptly picked up by the government and rushed off to some tent city, where they could try keeping things under control and had easy access to the people for questioning.

"It's a quarantine," one man exclaimed grimly, "The government doesn't want them to tell us what's really going on..."

I just nodded at that, knowing that he was right. If the public knew the truth, it would probably create more of a panic than there already was. Most people weren't exactly ready to handle the fact that alien warriors from another dimension were invading the planet...

"It's like an invisible wall," one woman near me told a friend. "We were trying to drive to the city to check on my sister, but as soon as we hit the wall...our car went dead."

"I put the car in neutral and pushed her backwards," the woman's husband added to the conversation, "And as soon as we were back on the other side, it started right up..."

There were other things being said, other examples of the weirdness that was going on. However, I barely paid them much attention. I had seen enough. I had heard enough. Now it was time to go in.

The military and police all had people set up to prevent anyone from going into the city, but they were too busy taking care of those who came rushing out. And since most people knew better than to go anywhere near Vegas at the moment, it was relatively simple for me to sneak around the checkpoints on foot and make my way there.

When I got closer to the main city, I was finally able to see some lights from within, though they were definitely not from any neon. There were flashes of light of various colors, but they would just come and go. I didn't take that as a good sign though. In fact, I took it as a very bad one.

Hundreds of people rushed past me, eager to get out of Las Vegas as fast as they could. Most of them looked terrified, though some were angry, sad or just completely numb. The expressions varried, though their determination to flee was the same for all of them.

All of the streets were filled with dead cars that had been abandonned when they had suddenly stopped working. And from the wreckage around me, it was obvious that a lot of people had lost control of their moving cards when it happened and crashed. There were wreckages from crashed cars all of the place, in the streets and even in the side of one building.

"My God," I whispered, wondering how many people had died just from car crashes alone. I could even see dead bodies in a couple of the crashed cars, though I think traffic had probably been stalled enough to keep most people from getting hit too bad when it happened.

And then I finally saw them...three men who made my heart nearly skip a beat. With a single look, I knew that they had to be memberrs of Rekegei's army. Well, either that or members of some fantasy convention, but I seriously doubted the latter. They looked far too realistic for that.

One of the men was large, about six and a half feet tall, with a completely bald head, blue tattoos all over his face, and strange leather clothing. He had a cruel grin on his face, and a HUGE ax in his hands. It was an enormous double edged ax, on top of a long pole. And from the bulging muscles the guy possessed, I had no doubt that he could use it.

The second guy was nearly as large as the first, though not quite so tall. But where he was several inches shorter, he also seemed to be several inches wider and even more muscular. And where the first man lacked any hair, this second one seemed to have an overabundance of it, with a long shaggy mane down his back and a large beard. He held a huge hammer in his hands, with a metal head that made it look as though the hammer itself might weight just as much or even more than he did.

Then there was the third guy who was much smaller than the first two, not to mention thinner. In fact, he almost looked a bit effeminate and could have been mistaken as a woman from a distance, especially with his long black hair. This man was dressed in a purple and black costume that almost looked like something out of a comic book. Even his weapon was less fearsome looking than that carried by the men with him. He only had a bow and some arrows.

But as I watched, the guy with the bow notched an arrow... I didn't think much of such a simple weapon...until the arrow started to glow purple. He fired the arrow and when it hit the wall of a building across the street, it exploded as though he had used a rocket launcher against it instead of a bow and arrow.

"Holy shit," I gasped in amazement.

"This world is full of weaklings and cowards," the guy with the bow and arrows complained, "These people are no challenge..."

"Weaklings and cowards should die," the man with the ax exclaimed, "They should make room for the strong..."

"Then we should kill them all," the one with the hammer grunted in a gravely voice. "I crave challenge..."

And with that, he slammed his hammer onto the ground. Suddenly the ground shattered and a massive crater formed around him. I stared in shock at what a single swing of the hammer had done to the ground. It looked almost like a meteorite had hit it or something...

A moment later the guy with the ax started walkin towards a minivan that was stopped in the middle of the street. He pulled his ax back, and was obviously about to swing at the vehicle when I heard screaming. It was only then that I noticed several faces staring out from the van windows... There were kids in the van.

"Stop!" I yelled out, catching the attention of the three men, "What the hell are you doing? There are kids in there..."

"Weak younglings," the man with the hammer snarled, "It is best to destroy them now before they grow up to become weaklings like all others in this world..."

"Besides," the man with the bow laughed, "They make fun targets... And with that he notched another arrow, this time aiming at the minivan..."

I gasped in horror and cried out, "You coward..."

"WHAT?" Bow turned to me, a look of fury in his eyes.

"Killing helpless kids," I sneared at him, remembering what Keiron had told me about these people and their love of personal combat, "Only a coward attacks someone who can't defend themselves..."

"No one calls me a coward," he snarled, his eyes narrowing with barely contained fury. "At least none who live..."

"I do," I told him grimly, pulling my katars out and letting him see that I was ready for a fight.

"At last," Hammer laughed, "Someone in this world with some fighting spirit..."

"Pity it's just a woman," Ax commented.

As I moved closer to Bow, I gestured to the van for the kids to get out. They nodded and ran out the side, with some skinny adult man that I hadn't even noticed with them. He must have been their father, though I didn't care much for the way he had been taking care of them. But once they all vanished inside of a nearby building...where who knew how many other people had taken refuge, I let out a sigh of relief and turned my full attention to the fight.

Bow snarled and fired an arrow at me, faster than I would ever have imagined. However, I had been expecting such a move and jumped to the side...only to be knocked off my feet as it exploded behind me. I had to jump to avoid another arrow, which just narrowly missed me.

"Damn," I grimaced, knowing that I couldn't beat him if I couldn't get to him...

Then I suddenly noticed that Hammer and Ax were both standing back, with no sign that they had any intention of jumping in and helping their friend. That just reminded me about the whole personal combat thing again... Apparently it was important enough to them that they wouldn't interfere.

"Thank God for small favors," I muttered, knowing that I probably wouldn't be able to deal with all three of them at one time.

"You're fast," Bow called out, "Very few have managed to avoid so many of my shots..." Then he laughed, "But none avoid them forever..."

I knew that he was right and that in order to beat him I'd have to get closer. So when he fired again, I charged straight towards the arrow, sidestepping it at the last possible second and simultaneously throwing a hand full of my blades. This time Bow went on the defensive, and while he was avoiding my attack, I got close enough to swing one of my katars at him.

But to my surprise, Bow blocked my katar attack with his bow... The impact of the block created a slight clang...making me realize that his bow was made of some sort of metal. And more than that, it had small blades on both ends of it...making it dangerous in close quarters as well as at a distance.

Bow swung his bow at me, trying to get me with one of the blades. I blocked it and kicked him, catching him in the stomach and sending him back. He quickly rolled to his feet, and in an incredibly fast moved, notched an arrow and let it fly at me. I blocked it with my katars and let out a sigh of relief that it wasn't one of those charged exploding ones.

Then seeing that Bow was charging another arrow to shoot me with, I decided to beat him to the punch. I waited until he fired the arrow, then jumped to the side and flung some more throwing blades at him. This time though, I used a little trick that I'd picked up while training with Keiron....and charged all of them up the same way that I did my katar. All of my throwing blades hit him with much more force, going much deeper and doing much more damage.

For a moment, Bow just stood there, staring at me in disbelief. The bow dropped from his hands and he finally collapsed to his knees, whispering, "I am defeated..." And with that, he collapsed the rest of the way to the ground.

"Oh shit," I whispered, suddenly horrified at what I'd done. I think that I'd just killed a man...though I couldn't be sure. I wasn't about to go check his pulse or anything.

"So this world does have fighters," Hammer said, raising his hammer and stepping towards me, obviously intending to fight me himself now that Bow had lost. "I shall enjoy this..."

Then without another word, Hammer came charging at me, his hammer already swinging. I'd seen what it could do when it hit the ground, and I sure as hell wasn't about to let it do that to me. I decided to take it on the offense right off the bat through and instead of jumping away from him, I jumped right at him, hitting him with a double katar punch before he could finish swinging his hammer, and then jumping up and away from him.

"AGH," Hammer grunted, dropping to one knee for a moment, his hammer swing having been disrupted. He glared at me with fury in his eys, as well as a bit of respect.

"Gotcha," I muttered, loving that look he was giving me. What can I say? I liked it when the bad guys respected me.

Of course my fight wasn't over and I wasn't about to forget it for even a moment. So while Hammer was getting back to his feet and raising his hammer, I was moving for another attack. He swung the hammer and hit the ground...but I had waited until just a moment before impact to jump towards him as hard as I could. I not only avoided the massive impact and shockwave of the hammer hitting the ground and creating another crater, but I also caught him when he couldn't use his weapon. This time, I hit Hammer with a half dozen katar punches, as well as several kicks. And I'd done it all before he could lift his hammer back up again.

At this point, Hammer staggered back, letting go of the hammer. I was amazed that he was still standing as he'd taken a lot more damage than Bow, but he was obviously ready to keep fighting. But instead of his hammer, he clenched his fists, then shifted position a bit, obviously changing gears to hand to hand combat mode.

For a brief moment, I was tempted to put away my katars and face him on even terms. But then common sense settled in. He was a lot bigger and stronger than I was, and there was no way that I wanted to risk him getting his hands on me. I was more than happy to keep using whatever advantage I had over him.

"You are very fast," Hammer grunted at me, "One of the fastest that I have ever seen... What is your name woman?"

"Kestra," I responded grimly. "Kestra...the Jagged Wind."

"Bojo Kai," he introduced himself to me, not moving his eyes.

Then Hammer...or Bojo as he said his his name was came after me. He swung one heavy fist, then another. I had no doubt that they'd do a lot of damage if they hit, but I was a lot faster than him and able to block and redirect his punches while taking the opportunity to hit him with a few good kicks. They didn't do a lot of damage, but I figured that I might eventualy wear him down this way.

Bojo and I circled each other for several minutes before he suddenly punched the ground with his fist, creating a small shockwave that knocked me off of my feet. It was similar to what happened when he hit the ground with his hammer, but not as powerful. However, it did catch me by surprise and he charged straight at me while I was regaining my balance.

"Oh no you don't," I cried out, shifting balance and slamming my katar straight into his solar plexus until my nuckles were touching his stomach.

I felt sick to my stomach as I actually twisted the blade then slowly withdrew it. I nearly emptied my stomach, though somehow managed to avoid doing that. I quickly reminded myself that I didn't have a choice, that it was him or me. I was trying to save Earth from the invasion...and I would have to have a strong stomach to do that.

"I win," I whispered.

Then I looked into Bojo's eyes as he fell to the ground and was surprised to see a look of excitement there, and of pleasure. I didn't understand why he would feel such things after being beaten...after being ran through. But all that I could figure was that it had something to do with their love of personal combat and facing a real challenging opponent. Perhaps they actually found some twisted joy in fighting someone stronger than them. I didn't know...nor did I want to think about it too much.

At this point, Ax came towards me. He didn't say a word as he looked down at Bojo and Bow. He didn't even look angry or upset. He gave me a calm look and I saw a hunger in his eyes... He wanted to fight me...to beat me...and possibly something else.

"You will make a good mate," Ax exclaimed with a grin. "We shall have strong children together..."

I nearly choked at that, "You've got to be kidding..."

Unfortunately, I could tell from the look on his face that he wasn't. "If you agree to be mother of my children, we can avoid this fight," Ax told me with a smug look. "If not...you shall afterwards."

"I don't think so," I snorted in disgust, glaring at him and deciding that I REALLY didn't like him.

I wondered what Tina or Nancy would say if they found out that some guy I didn't even know had just asked me to be the mother of his children. Tina would probably give me some sympathy sounds while Nancy would burst out laughing. Of course, Nancy knew a few things about me that Tina didn't yet.

But Ax just gave me an arrogant glare and announced, "I am Therikon Drax..."

"Drax?" I asked with a smirk, "As in rhymes with ax?" I laughed at that, "Give me a break..."

"Very well then," Drax growled, suddenly jumping at me and swinging his ax.

I was stunned by just how fast Drax was. He was a big guy, larger than either Bojo or Bow, but somehow he was faster then either of them. I was just barely able to get out of his way in time. Then he swung the ax at me again, grabbing it by the base of the staff and having a very long reach as a result.

"Oh shit," I gasped, jumping back and away from him, realizing that I could be in real trouble.

Drax didn't even charge after me, but stood his ground and swung his ax. With the size of that thing and his range, I didn't think that I'd be able to get past Drax's defenses very easily. In fact, I knew that I'd have a hell of a time doing that.

"Come to me little one," Drax laughed, taking another swing of his ax.

Then Drax paused for a moment, pulling his ax close to him. He muttered something under his breath which sounded like some sort of chant. And as he did so, the blade of his large ax began to glow blue. A moment later, he grabbed the ax by the handle and swung it at the ground.

"Uh oh," I muttered as the ax hit the concrete and went through it as easily as a hot knife through butter.

But the ax didn't just go through the middle of the street... It created some sort of blue ripple of energy which shot out at the impact and ran down the street...splitting the concrete apart as it went until there was a chasm in the road that stretched about twenty yards long.

"See my power and tremble," Drax announced arrogantly, making me realize that he hadn't even tried hitting me with that particular move. He had only been showing off. "Do you wish to surrender now little one?" He gave me a broad grin, "Think of the children we will have..."

"I'd rather not," I grimaced.

This didn't seem to bother Drax though, other than to make him more determined. He looked calm and in control as he ran towards me, swinging his ax. I wasn't sure that I could block something like that so did my best to avoid it. Of course, it helped to realize that he wasn't trying to kill me. That bastard wanted me for something else...

"I'd rather be dead," I muttered to myself, knowing that I had to find some way to beat him.

Then Drax paused and stood his ground, taking a position that dared me to attack him. He wasn't interested in chasing me down... He wanted me to come to him. And with that huge ax of his, I wasn't all that confident about my ability to break through his defences. I was going to have to find another way.

I grimaced and ran towards Drax, throwing a hand full of throwing blades at him. And as he tried to block most of them, I shifted position and jumped, coming at him with one of my katars pointed straight at his face. But I had underestimated his speed because he lashed out with one arm and knocked me to the side before I could connect.

Drax swung his ax at me again, though this time I slipped underneath it and came up right in front of him with both of my katars drawn. And before he had a chance, I was able to give him a couple of good slashes across his abdoment. Then I rolled to the side and out of his arms reach, sending a few throwing blades at him to do a little more damage.

"You are a strong little one," Drax growled, beginning to get annoyed. "Our children shall be powerful indeed..."

I tried hard to ignore his comments, but it wasn't easy. Everytime he suggested that we have kids together, I felt like screaming or at the very least emptying my stomach. That was just plain disgusting.

After a moment, Drax began doing that trick with his ax again...the one where he made it glow blue. I grimaced and got out of the way, but when he slammed the ax into the ground and sent the cutting blue ribbon of energy straight at me, I stood my ground.

"Please work," I grimaced as I crossed my katars in front of me and braced myself, throwing out my reflection technique.

To my relief, my reflection technique worked great and sent his own ribbon of blue energy right back at him. Drax yelled in surprise and tried to block it with his ax...only to have his own ax cut in half by the attack. I nearly felt like laughing, though I didn't wast the time. Instead I jumped to my feet, kept my katars crossed, channeled my chi energy into them and then let loose with a chi blast that hit him right in the chest and knocked him flat on his ass.

Since I had already learned not to waste any opportunity in a fight, I charged straight at Drax, catching him as he got back to his feet. He tried to swing a punch at me though I managed to avoid it and return with a kick to his side. By this point, he was actually getting pissed...which wasn't surprising as he had a hole burnt right into his chest.

"I shall teach you your place little one," Drax snarled, his eyes suddenly glowing blue.

"Uh oh," I gulped, having a feeling that I knew what was coming.

Fortunately my guess correct and when Drax fired some blue energy blasts at me from his eyes, I was ready and threw up another reflection field. It took a good bit of chi energy to do that technique, but it was well worth it to see his own energy blasts come back and hit him in the chest, almost right in the same spot as where I'd already blasted him.

"Maybe now you'll learn your lesson," I teased Drax. "Don't try those kind of tricks with me..."

By then, it was getting obvious that Drax was pretty badly injured. He'd taken a couple of chi energy attacks right in his chest, and that wasn't even taking into account the fact that I'd hit him with a couple of throwing blades and a few good katar strikes. he was bleeding and looking weaker by the moment.

"Where is Rekegei at?" I demanded. "He's the one I want to fight..."

"How do you know of our master?" Drax asked in surprise.

"Tell me where he is and I'll tell you," I responded, keeping my distance for the moment.
Drax just laughed at that and decided for another attack, this time keeping it both physical and bare handed. Of course he didn't really have a choice since his ax had been cut in half with his own attack and his chi attacks just hadn't been working for him. However, he was pretty strong and fast...though fortunately, not as fast as me.

When Drax came at me, I met him with everything that I had, blocking his punches and returning with a few of my own. And mine were made much more dangerous by the fact that I was still using my katars. Every punch of mine that hit cut deeply into his flesh and after just another minute, my opponent collapsed to the ground.

"Where's Rekegei?" I demanded.

But Drax didn't answer. Instead, he gave me a bit of a smirk and said, "We would have had great children..."

"Damn," I grimaced, not sure if Drax was alive or dead either. Even if he was alive, he would have been unconcious, and I wasn't really betting on him living through all that damage.

But just then, a weak voice said, "Rekegei..."

I looked around and was a bit surprised to see that it was coming from Bojo. He was badly injured from our fight, but he was sitting up at least a little bit and looking at me.

"Take this," Bojo whispered, holding something out to me. I took a closer look and realized that it was a string of beads.

"No thanks," I grimaced, "I didn't do this to rob you..."

But Bojo smiled lightly at that before coughing up a little blood. He looked straight at me and responded, "No... It is proof that you defeated me in combat... The other's have them too..."
I frowned at that, "I don't need..."

"Rekegei will not accept your challenge unless you have five strands," Bojo told me in a whisper. "He will not waste his time with one unless they prove their skills..."

I carefully took Bojo's strand of beads then looked it over. The strand was only about six inches long and the beads were a variety of colors and even shapes. It didn't look very important at all. But if Bojo was telling me this while that injurred, I had to believe him.

"And where is Rekegei?" I asked.

Bojo stared at me for a moment before pointing down the street. But he said nothing more, closing his eyes and going limp instead. I might have taken him for dead...again, if it weren't for the fact that he was still breathing.

After a moment, I turned away from Bojo and went to check on my other opponents. I found a strand of beads tied to Bow's belt, and a similar strand around Drax's neck. That made three, so if Bojo was telling the truth, and I had no reason to believe that he wasn't, then I would only need two more strands of beads before I could fight Rekegei.

"Time to go get me some more souvenirs," I sighed as I began moving down the street again. I ony hoped that I was still able to fight by the time I reached Rekegei.

Kombat Champion
Part 14 of 16
By Morpheus

I stared around me at what had been the crowded and busy city of Las Vegas, stunned by what it had become. The streets were filled with dead and crashed cars, and there was almost nobody in sight. Nearly all of the people who were still in the city, who had yet to evacuate and escape, were hiding within the hotels and casinos. They were staying off the street and out of danger.

Whenever I looked around me, I not only saw a city turned into a virtual ghost town, but I also sign all of the signs of war... Cars were overturned in the streets... There were huge holes in the walls of buildings and even in the concrete streets... A charred skeleton of what had once been a human being lay spread out on the sidewalk, along with remains which no longer even resembled anything like people.

"My God," I whispered, a chill of horror going up my spine. "This is some kind of nightmare..."

Unforatunately, I knew that it wasn't just a nightmare. Everything that was going oin around me was far too real. Las Vegas had been invaded by fighters from another dimension.

"Sounds like something out of a video game," I muttered grimly.

In fact, the whole situation reminded me of a video game. That wasn't too surprising since I myself had been turned into a living, breathing video game charachter. But it was more than just that...

If this had been a video game, then Rekegei would undoubtedly be the main villain at the end of the game. The whole goal of the game was to get to the final level and beat him. And as with the game, the goal was simple and straight forward. But unfortunately, just like with any video game, you couldn't just go straight to the main villain. You had to go through all of the other levels first. You had to fight and beat all of his lackeys before you could get to him.

"Like Bojo, Drax and that bow and arrow guy," I muttered to myself. They would definitely be level bosses or something of the sort. And according to Bojo, I would have to beat two more fighters...two more levels until I could get to the main villain. "Rekegei..."

Then of course, just like with a number of video games, once you got through the level and finally reached the villain, you might not have enough life points left to survive a fight against him for very long. I'd played a number of video games like that. There were a lot of game that if you went up against the villain at full strength, it might not be all that difficult to beat him. However, there was frequently the catch that you could only fight the villain after going through the level and all of his little weenies, and by the time you reached the villain, your life points were already nearly gone and you started off the fight at a major disadvantage.

"It's just like the a game," I grimaced, thinking about how I was supposedly required to fight five people before I could face Rekegei. I was already sore and a bit injured from my previous fights, and if this continued, then by the time I was able to fight Rekegei I would no longer be in any condition to do so.

But unlike a video game, if I died in one of these fights, I couldn't start over. As strange as it was, this was real life and not some kind of game. I didn't get extra lives. I didn't get to start off again from a saved point. I didn't even get a chance to start the whole game over from the very beginning. Once I died here, I was dead for good.

"I'm not going to let that happen," I grimaced, clutching my katars even tighter and getting some comfort from their presence.

After a minute, I continued walking down the streets in the direction that Bojo had directed. I occasionally saw people...normal people who would peak out from their hiding places to see what was going on, or who would rush across the street and go from one building to another. The streets might be mostly empty, but the people were still around. Or at least those that hadn't flooded out of the city were.

And then there were the fighters. I kept catching glimpses of people in odd costumes, people who were obviously members of Rekegei's army. They were around as well, though I couldn't tell just how many of them there were. What I could tell though was that they seemed to have no uniforms, nor any form of organization. And from what Keiron had told me, I guessed that there were probably only a couple hundred of them...spread out over Vegas.

I had gone only a short distance further when I became aware of a lot of noise coming from ahead of me. I paused for just a moment, then rushed forward and turned the corner. But as soon as I saw what was going on, I froze for moment and stared in amazment.

There were a dozen members of Rekegei's army in the street, not running around and destroying everyone and everything in sight like I had seen some of their other members do, but just quietly standing to the side. They were all watching not only one...but THREE fights going on in front of them at the same time.

For a moment, I just stared at the sight in front of me, gasping as I recognized two of the fighters. "Nancy..."

Nancy, or rather Vypra was in the middle of a fight with some large and muscular woman. She threw a bunch of snakes at her opponent, then her glowing snake aura appeared around her. A moment later, Nancy jumped, her two katanas pulled out and providing the fangs for the glowing ghostly snake which struck at the large woman...

And at the same time, I glanced over and stared in surprise at Pi the Yellow Snow, who was busy fighting his own opponent. The fact that he was there at all was amazing because I didn't think that he was the kind to seek out any real fights...or to try saving the planet. I had imagined him hiding out during this invasion thing, but instead he was right in the middle of it fighting. He fired a spray of yellow water at his opponent, followed by a yellow blizzard attack which froze the other man in place.

Then my attention turned to the third fighter, who was a man that I didn't recognize but knew that he had to be one of Keiron's transformed champions. He was average height and build, with a blue and white costume that looked sort of like a ninja outfit. But his head was mostly uncovered, with only a blue bandanna over his nose and mouth, leaving his short white hair to flow free.

From what I could tell, the white haired champion that I didn't know was a hand to hand fighter without a weapon. He was punching and kicking his opponent, a tall skinny man with a scythe... And he was obviously fast. Then a moment later, the white haired man held out his hands and a ball of glowing blue energy appeared between them.

"Ka May Ha," the white haired man yelled out, obviously focusing even more energy into his glowing ball, "May HAAAA!"

And with that, the white haired man threw the glowing blue ball at his opponent. As soon as the ball hit, it exploded, sending the other fighter flying back and obviously injured. His scythe had even been dropped during the explosion, which the white haired man took advantage of by charging straight at the fallen man and launching into a rapid fire series of punches.

"He's good," I commented to myself, turning my attention back to Vypra.

But as I looked back at Nancy, I saw her opponent staggering and looking weak. Vypra was just standing back, holding her swords as if she was ready to attack as soon as the opportunity was right. Then it dawned on me... Vypra didn't need to attack as she had probably already used her snake fist strike attack on her opponent and she was in her last throws of energy. And my guess seemed to be proven as the large woman collapsed to the ground.

"Good going Vypra," I called out, carefully moving a bit closer.

"Kestra," Nancy exclaimed in delight as she finally noticed me. Then she smirked at me and added, "It's about time you got here..."

"It wasn't easy getting a flight," I admitted, then gestured to her fallen opponent, "You'd betterr get her strand of beads..."

"What?" Nancy blinked in confusion.

I held up the three strands that I had already taken form my opponents, "Each of these guys seems to have one of these, and it looks like you might need to beat five of these guys for their beads before you're allowed to fight Rekegei..."

Nancy blinked, "That's ridiculous..."

"And these clothes aren't?" Pi responded as he came up as well, apparently having finished his opponent while I hadn't been paying attention.

Nancy looked at his yellow ninja costume and nodded, "Good point..."

Around this time, the last of the three had finished his fight and was coming over as well. The two of us just stared at each other for a moment before he held out his hand, "The name's Jake..."

"Kestra," I shook his hand.

"Game name?" Jake asked me. And as I nodded, he shrugged, "I prefer using my real one... Helps me remember who I really am..."

However, the dozen or so members of Rekegei's army who surrounded us weren't about to just let us stand there and talk. And they especially didn't seem to want that after three of their buddies had just been taken out in front of them. I wondered what they would think if they knew that I'd taken out three of them myself. Then again, I realized that I'd held up the beads I'd won
when I told Nancy about them, so they just might know...

"I challenge you," a large man who had scars all over his body snarled to Pi.

"I challenge you," a short man with a pair of strange looking knives in his hands exclaimed to Jake. "I'll tear you up for what you did to my cousin..."

And other challengers came as well. One skinny guy with a blue mohawk challenged Vypra, while I was left with a woman who looked almost nothing like a fighter. She wsa tall and beautiful, with white clothes and a white loin cloth. Her hair was nearly pure white, with only a single lock of black hair which hung down partly into her face.

"You have obviously beaten three of our bretheren," the woman told me in a calm, sexy sounding voice. "Unless of course you stole their tokens..."

"No," I told her, "I won those fair and square... One on one..."

The woman eyed me suspiciously, "Just out of curiousity, whom did you best?"

"Bojo Kai," I told her, "Some guy naked Drax and a skinny guy with a bow and arrows..."

"Ah," she nodded, suddenly having a slighlty more cautious look on her eyes. "If you tell the truth, you must be skilled enough..."

"I'm skilled enough," I admitted warily, wondering if she wanted to talk or fight. Then again, maybe she thought that it was good manners to get to know your opponent before fighting.

The woman nodded, then introduced herself, "I am Shiekra...known as the White Bride."

"Kestra," I responded with a nod, "The Jagged Wind."

And with that, Shiekra gave a slight nod of her head and began to back away, giving us room to find and letting me know that it was time to get down to business. She carefully unwrapped a long white silk scarf from around her waist and held it out to the side.

Suddenly Shiekra snapped her scarf and a long metal chain came whipping out from where it had been and launched straight at me. I jumped out of the way, but she yanked the chain and sent is slapping the ground nearby. Then she started to swing it around, cracking it like a whip.

"What the...?" I stared, seeing that Shiekra had the chain in one of her hands, while a long scarf in the other. She snapped the scarf again, and this time the scarf itself seemed to lash out like a whip, catching me on the edge of my arm and tearing through my skin as though it were a knife blade rather than just cloth. "Damn..."

I grimaced, trying to ignore my injured arm. Instead, I focused on Shiekra, knowing that she was more dangerous than she looked. She snapped the scarf again, and I jumped aside, only to watch it actually cut into the concrete street. There was no doubt that this harmless piece of fabric was anything but harmless.

"Where is your skill?" Shiekra taunted, lashing out with the chain this time. It, like the scarf seemed to stretch out to three times it's length whenever she did that, getting at me even though I could have sworn that I was outside of her range.

When Shiekra lashed out at me with her scarf whip again, I moved, slashing out with my katar and cutting it right in half. She cursed in some strange language that I didn't understand, though it was undoubtedly a profanity of some sort. There's a reason that dirty words are usually the first ones anyone learns in another language... However, Shiekra wasn't going to just sit there and curse at me. She lashed out with her chain, nearly hitting me with it.

"You can do better than that," I tauned Shiekra, who was swinging the chain around her head. The scarf had been dropped to the ground, apparently unusable now that it was cut in half.

Shiekra smirked, then swung the chain at me. It came much faster than I would have expecte, and when it hit a car in the middle of the street, it nearly cut the car in half. I was stunned at that and made sure not to get hit by that thing. But while I was busy dodging her chain, I didn't notice that she had somehow pulled out another long white scarf...until she had swung at me with it and wrapped up my feet.

I hit the ground with a painful thud, unable to move my lower body much. It was wrapped up with one end of an extremely long white scarf, while Shiekra was firmly clutching the other hand. And it didn't take me more than a moment to realize that as long as I was wrapped up like that, I wasn't going to be able to avoid her chain. But this was obviously what she' d intended as she was reading the chain for another swing.

"Damn," I grimaced, slashing at the scarf again with my katar. But to my surprise, it didn't cut through it this time. In fact, this time the scarf seemed to be as hard and strong as steal. "No way am I being taken down by a scarf..."

Since my katars alone weren't going to cut the scarf, I channeled some of my chi energy into them, making them glow and giving them a lot more power. I grimaced and took one more slash with my katar, slashing through the scarf with the one blade while I used my other one to block her chain attack. My arm was somewhat numb from the force of her swing.

For a moment, I felt the urge to look over and see how the other's were doing in their own fights...especially Vypra. But I immediately pushed those concerns down, knowing that for now I had to be concerned about myself and my own survival. I had to win this fight. I HAD to.

"I don't like those scarves very much," I exclaimed, going on the offensive and charging right at Shiekra. But before I could get too close, she threw up a scarf into the air, which spread out all over me. Before I realized it, I was entangled in another scarf, this time with my whole body being wrapped up in it. I struggled to get free, then let out a grunt as a horrible pain hit me in the side.

"I fear that I am somewhat disappointed," Shiekra commented. "I had expected more from you..."

With a loud yell, I struggled to get free of the scarf. I finally pulled away from it, just barely in time to avoid another lash from her chain. The ground crumbled where the chain hit, right where I had been laying on the ground a moment earlier.

"You sure do love to accessorize," I called out, my mind racing as I tried to come up with some ideas.

Up until then, I had been holding back on using my chi energy as I didn't want to drain myself too bad by the time I faced Rekegei. But now there was no doubt that if I didn't start using my chi abilities more, I wouldn't survive long enough to face him.

Shiekra was swirling her chain around and suddenly let loose with it for another attack. I stood my ground and crossed my katars to brace for the attack, though as soon as the chain was in motion for me I did something else instead. I channeled my chi energy through my katars and fired a blast of energy straight at my opponent. Shiekra let out a shrief as she was blown back, the front of her clothes badly burned from my blast. She had even dropped her chain...

I wasn't about to waste an opportunity and immediately charged towards Shiekra. She began reaching to her waist for another scarf, but I used my elbow to slam her in the face. For the briefest of moments, I felt a bit of guilt for doing something like that to a girl, but I quickly shoved it aside. My reluctance to hit girls had gone out the window around the time I had become one myself, not to mention the fact that Shiekra was part of a plan to wipe out the Earth. I wasn't about to let myself feel guilty for stopping that.

"You chazact," Shiekra shrieked at me, "My face... You'll ruin my face..."

"And I love you too," I responded, grabbing for the chain that she had dropped and wrapping it around her neck...

Shiekra struggled and tried to pull the chain away from where I was choking her around the neck. But she was going pale and quickly losing the struggle... It was obvious that she had lost, and she finally realized it herself. She held her hands, or at least one of them out in a sign of submission, giving me a pleading look with her eyes. And then, she reached around her neck and tore off the string of beads that she'd had wrapped there, dropping them to the ground.

"It's not a black tournament," I whispered, letting her go to drop to the ground. I didn't want to kill her if I didn't have to, and it was already more than obvious that I'd won. And as I picked up the beads she had dropped, it seemed that her fellow fighters agreed with the sentiment. They glared at me yet seemed to accept that I had indeed won that fight.

Then, Just as I was picking up my prize, I heard a loud scream and snapped around. I stared in horror as the large warrior with the scars all over his body held Pi above his head... And from the angles of Pi's limbs, it was pretty obvious that he had several VERY nasty broken bones. Hell, one of his legs was dangling in a completely unnatural angle...

But to my surprise, Pi wasn't completely finished. He put his hand right to his opponents face...then unleased an ice attack at point blank range. The big scarred man screamed...or at least tried to before his entire head turned to ice. He dropped Pi and then collapsed to the ground himself, his head shattering as he hit the ground.

"Ugh," I grimaced, not sure whether to count that one as a victory for Pi or not. Pi was alive and the other guy was dead, but I didn't think that Pi would ever fight again...

However, Vypra and Jake were both doing pretty good in their own fights. Jake used some sort of explosive chi burst to take out his opponent at close range, while Vypra had already hit hers with a snake fist strike and was playing defence as she waited for him to collapse from weakness.

Just then though, I noticed that the fighters of Rekegei's army were beginning to come towards us. I gulped, suddenly realizing that we were about to be challenged again... In fact, I realized that we would be challenged again and again... We would get more and more tired and injured, while our opponents would still be fresh to the fight. They would keep challenging us to personal combat without giving us any time to recover, until we couldn't last any longer...

"Oh hell," I grimaced, definitely not liking that one bit at all. It just didn't seem at all fair. Then again, I don't think that they cared about fairness... You don't go invading other people's dimension and killing innocent people if being fair was very important to you.

Suddenly, I realized that there were more fighters present than when I had started my fight with Shiekra. There were twice as man, perhaps even three times as many... And then they all suddenly went quiet, making me even more nervous as I wondered what was going on. It was only then that I noticed the direction that most of them were looking.

"What the...?" I started, then gasped as I saw the man coming towards us with an entourage of fighters surrounding him.

With a single look, I knew that this man had to be Rekegei... All of the fighters were deferring to him and he had an air of command. There was no doubt that this had to be their leader. This had to be Rekegei the Black Flame.

Rekegei was not quite what I had expected. To be honest, when I had heard about this horrible warrior Rekegei, I had imagined him as some sort of 7 foot tall monster that was built like the hulk and had glowing red eyes. But the man who came towards me looked surprisingly normal. He was about six feet tall and pretty average sized, though it was pretty obvious that he was also made of solid ripped muscle. Rekegei also had spiky blonde hair and a somewhat charming grin which gave him an air of being an easy-going and nice guy. However, the darkness in his eyes spoke otherwise.

"You're Rekegei?" I asked when he was closer.

He stood there for a moment and slowly looked around, at me and then the others. And since I was the one who had spoken, he finally turned his attention back to me and answered simiply, "I am he..."

I heard a gasp from Vypra while Jake just got into position to attack. However, with the group of fighters who were gathered around Rekegei, I knew a direct attack like that wouldn't work...and apparently so did he as he stood his ground.

"I challenge you to a fight," I looked straight at Rekegei. "Just you and me..."
Rekegei seemed amused at that and actually smiled. "Finally, someone with fighting spirit... I had begun to wonder if all on this world were cowardly weaklings..."

"A fight," I insisted, shifting into position.

But Rekegei shook his head, "I only fight those who have proven their strength... I will not waste my time on weaklings..."

I grimaced at that statement but bit my tongue. Instead, I held up the four strands of beads that I'd already collected, "Does this prove my strength?"

Rekegei gave me a steady look for a moment and then burst out laughing. "You've bested four of my warriors... But you must best five before you prove yourself worthy..."

"Fine then," I snapped in annoyance, gesturing to the fighter that was the closest to me, "Then I'll fight him..."

"I accept," the man quickly exclaimed, giving me a hard grin which suddenly made me wonder if I'd just made a big mistake.

The man that I had just challenged was about six feet tall, perhaps a little less. He had long red and gold streaked hair and wore a costume of red and yellow. And there was no doubt from the look of him that he was more than ready to fight.

"Very well," Rekegei exclaimed loudly enough so that everyone could hear it. "Chiagsu shall fight..." He paused to give me a questioning look.

"Kestra," I told him. "My name is Kestra."

"Chiagsu shall fight Kestra," Rekegei called out.

The various fighters didn't cheer, though they did start to talk loudly among themselves. Mostly they seemed to be trying to decide just how fast Chiagsu would kill me. Some were even offering bets, but I didn't hear anyone willing to bet on me winning the fight.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Nancy asked me, looking pretty worried.

"No," I told her truthfully, "But it's a little late now..."

"Good luck," Jake told me grimly.

With that, just about everyone started to move back again, to give me and Chaigsu room to fight. I just grimaced and braced myself, while Chiagsu reached behind him and pulled out a sword that I hadn't seen strapped anywhere to his back. It looked like he could do the whole summoning weapons thin too...

Chiagsu held his sword over his head in a dramatic pose, giving me a decent look at it. His sword seemed to be sort of like a katana, though not quite the same. It was more like a variation from the katanna blade, with a golden wrapped hilt. And from the way he held it, I had no doubt that the man knew how to use it too.

"BEGIN!" Rekegei called out.

As soon as that single word had been spoken, Chiagsu was in motion. He came straight at me, swinging his sword with incredible speed. It was all that I could do just to block his attack. And as he kept coming, I was put in the defensive, a position that I really didn't like but seemed to be stuck with far too often.

Chiagsu and I went at it pretty intensely for several minutes, katanna against katars, with both of us slashing and blocking at blinding speed. So far he had to have been my fastest opponent, and he seemed surprised that I was able to keep up with him.

But then Chiagsu decided to change the rules a little. He stepped back for just a moment, and his sword began to crackle with electricity. It seemed to run up and down the whole blade, making it look MUCH more dangerous. If that thing didn't cut me, it might very well electrocute me instead.

I wasn't about to risk that kind of thing so channeled some of my chi energy into my katars. Hopefully, having my own weapons powered up would act as insulation from any shocking surprise that he might intend. I could only hope.

"Taste my blade," Chiagsu commented, coming at me with his sword again.

He had obviously expected me to block the attack, and I didn't disappoint him. However, he was obviously surprised that I didn't get a shock out of his trick... I was just relieved that my own trick had worked. And as we continued swinging blades at each other, sparks flew with every block and contact of metal. But after just a minute, his sword had stopped sparking and glowing, while my own blades were quickly losing their energy as well. Soon we were back to just bare metal against bare metal.

After a few more minutes of this, with neither of us having any real advantage, Chiagsu decided to get tricky again. He jumped back and suddenly threw what seemed to be a small hand full of lightning at me... As the ball lightning came at me, I was easily able to avoid it, though that nearly drove me right into his sword. He was moving fast and it was hard to dodge both his attack with the electricity and the follow up with the sword. He tried that once more though before switching tactics yet again.

This time Chiagso made sure to get a good distance away from me, then he held is sword up over his head. Suddenly, lightning came out of nowhere and hit his sword, almost as if it were a lightning rod. Unfortunately, the lightning didn't seem content to remain in Chiagsu's sword because a moment later, it shot out of the sword and straight at me. I just barely managed to get out of the way before it burned a large section of the ground where I'd been standing.

"Man, what I wouldn't give for one of Pi's attacks," I muttered to myself, specifcially thinking of that water blast thing that he did. Something like that might work great against an enemy who used electricity like this. However, I didn't have any kind of water attacks and would have to make due with what I did have.

I started charging straight for Chiagso, determined to give him a bit of pain, but he raised his sword for another one of those lightning attacks that I assumed were his signature move. And the moment that he raised his sword, I saw my opening. The entire front of his body was open...so I threw a double handfull of throwing blades right at his midsection.

Chiagso quickly tried yanking his sword back down to block the throwing blades, but he only brought his sword back down in time to block a couple. At least three of my throwing blades had hit their mark and sunk into his flesh.

"AGH," Chiagsu yelled in pain, quickly trying to regain his defence though it was too late.

I came at Chiagsu with all of my katar skills at the ready... He tried to block and defend himself, but the injuries I had given him with my blades had done their job and were not only severely slowing him down, but were messing with his ability to properly move and stretch his body. It took me only several moves to get past his defences, knock the katana right out of his hands and send a katar stright into his gut to win the fight.

Once Chiagsu was down and on the ground, I made a show of taking the string of beads from his belt and holding it up for Rekegei to see. I glanced back down to Chiagsu for just a moment, knowing that he was still alive, but that he wouldn't be in any condition to fight again for some time to come.

"Here's the fifth one," I told Rekegei, trying not to show him just how tired I was getting. "I believe that you owe me a fight..."

"Very well," Rekegei laughed, giving me the same kind of charming smile that he might if he'd asked me out on a date and was confident that I'd say yes. "You shall have it..." And with that, he began to move forward, his posture getting more dangerous and his expression more serious.

"WAIT," Nancy cried out, suddenly jumping between us and giving me a worried look.

Rekegei scowled, the darkness in his eyes seeming to get even darker for a moment. "What is the meaning of this?"

Nancy gulped, then quickly blurted out, "This isn't fair... She's just gone through five fights in a row and she's tired and injured."

"Nancy," I cautioned, giving a nervous glance to Rekegei and being afraid of what he might do to her if she interferred, "Vypra..."

But Nancy continued, looking getting just a bit more daring, "I thought you liked a challenge... How can she give her best fight if she's still worn out from these other five fights...?"

There was a moment of silence while Rekegei glared at her. Then he slowly nodded his head, "Very well." And with that charming grin of his, he looked to me and said, "You have two hours to rest. Then we fight." And with that, he turned and walked off, with most of his fighters going along with him.

I stood there for a moment, letting out a sigh of relief before finally turning to Nancy, "Thanks." Then I immediately followed that up with, "What did you think you were doing? He might have had his people kill you for getting involved... You know how important these jerks take personal fights..."

"Well I wasn't about to let you fight when you're so out of it," Nancy told me, "You wouldn't stand a chance..."

"You're right," I admitted.

I had been thinking the same thing myself. It was just like in those games... By the time I got to the main villain, I was too weak to last very long against him. If she hadn't interferred and given me more time, I was sure that I would have lost this one.

"Two hours," I sighed.

I had only two hours to recover from multiple scrapes, lacerations and severe bruising, not to mention the fact that I was completely drained. How in the world could I be expected to recover from my injuries and regain my strength with that short of an amount of time? How could I possibly get back to top fighting shape that quickly? It was impossible.

Then I grinned defiantly, "No problem..."

Kombat Champion
Part 15 of 16
By Morpheus

I took a long, slow, deep breath, clearing my mind of all thoughts just as Keiron had taught me. All that I was truly aware of was the flow of chi energy and that of the world around me. It was peacefull, allowing me to temporarily forget about Rekegei and the fight that would soon await me.

When I had finished with my meditation and opened my eyes a minute later, I felt utterly fantastic. I was calm, relaxed and not to mention completely healed. Even my energy had returned.

"I'm ready to fight," I smiled to myself, feeling much more confident now that I was back to top condition.

For most people, it would be nearly impossible to recover as completely as I had in such a short an amount of time. But unlike most people, I had an ace up my sleave in the form of my second wind technique. As soon as Rekegei had given me my two hours to rest, I had used my second wind to take care of my energy level and physical injuries. And after two hours, as well as some meditation, my chi levels had been recharged as well.

Then I slowly looked around the hotel room that I was in and frowned slightly. After Rekegei had left, Nancy, Jake and I had gone straight into the nearest hotel casino and asked for a room. The people who had been hidding out inside had been rather reluctant, until they realized that we were fighting the invaders. After that, they had been more than cooperative.

"Where's Nancy?" I asked, only then realizing that both she and Jake were gone. I'd been lost in my meditation for awhile and hadn't noticed either of them leaving.

I looked at the clock and saw that I still had about twenty minutes, though that didn't make me worry any less about Nancy. Las Vegas was a very dangerous town at the moment. Rekegei's goons were running all over the place.

"Oh shit," I gasped, suddenly realizing where Nancy went.

I knew Nancy and I knew that she wanted to help me fight Rekegei. And since Rekegei would only accept fights from people who had beaten at least five of his warriors, she and Jake had probably both gone to earn a few more strings of beads.

"Damn," I grimaced, worried about Nancy and hoping that she was all right. Going through five fights one after another wasn't easy, and she didn't have my second wind technique to help her out either.

After a minute, I turned and went to the bed where Pi the Yellow Snow was spread out and asleep on top of it. At least he hadn't run off to get some more victories under his belt, but of course that would be difficult with one leg completely shattered and an arm that had a compound fracture.

Pi groaned and opened his eyes, giving me a steady look before smirking, "Looking hot babe..."

I grimaced, "Don't make me kick your ass again..."

But Pi just grinned, "Sounds like fun..."

"You never learn," I scowled at him, finding it too hard to get mad at him when he'd been so badly injured.

"Don't worry about me," he told me, apparently guessing my thoughts. "We heal pretty fast anymore... I mean, give me a couple weeks at the most and I'll be up and dancing a jig..."

"Well," I grinned, "If you dance as bad as you fight, it's probably better that you stay in bed..."

Pi just laughed at that, then gave me a careful look. "Be careful," he warned me, "That Rekegei sounds like a real badass."

"Thanks," I told him.

Just then, the door to the hotel room when flying open. I snapped around, instinctively snapping into a fighting position until I saw that it was Nancy and Jake. Then I started to relax until I realized that Nancy was injured and that she was leaning against Jake for support.

"Nancy," I gasped.

"I'm all right," she told me, letting go of Jake and limping a little as she made her way to sit down on a chair. "I just got into a couple fights..." And with that she held up a total of four strands of beads.

"And got hurt," I pointed out.

"A broken arm, sprained ankle and dislocated shoulder," Jake commented casually.

"I'll be all right," Nancy protested, looking embarrassed.

"Yeah," Jake nodded, "But you won't be fighting for awhile..."

"You sure you'll be all right?" I asked her.

Nancy just nodded, then told me, "I barely survived that last one." She cringed, then pleaded, "Please don't tell Tom about this... He was worried enough that I had to sneak out to come here..."

"What about you?" I asked Jake.

Jake was silent for a moment but held up five strands of beads. "I've got enough to fight Rekegei, but I don't know if I have the energy left..." He let out a long sigh, looking pretty tired and bruised himself. And I doubted that he'd be able to recover anywhere near as fast as I had.

"I think it's about time," Nancy said, pointing to the clock.

"Good luck," Pi told me from across the room. Then he added, "I think you're going to need it."

"Just great," I grimaced. Then I took a deep breath and promised, "I'm going to do my best."

I clenched my fists tightly, knowing that I would have to do better than my best. I was going to have to win. There were no ifs ands or buts. If I lost...I hated to think about what that would mean for the world.

"There is no try," I muttered, repeating the words of a famous green muppet, "There is do...or do not." And I fully intended to 'do'.

After I had spent a moment gathering my strength, I left the room, only scarcely aware of the fact that Jake and Nancy were slowly following after me. I was too focused on what I was going to have to do...and what it would mean to not only me but everyone else if I failed.

"At least I have Jake as a backup," I reminded myself, knowing that he had his five beads so that if I lost, then he'd be able to challenge Rekegei as well.

When I got back out to the street, I was somewhat surprised to realize that everything had been cleared out of the way. All of the cars and all of the rubble had all been removed from the street. There was just a large empty clearing remaining, perfect for fighting.

The audience had already gathered and were surrounding the clearing. There were dozens of Rekegei's warriors there, possibly even all of them. And it was obvious that they were all waiting for the fight to begin.

"I bet people would pay to see this," I muttered, thinking about how famous Vegas was for hosting fights. I slowly looked around at the buildings around us, wondering how many people might be watching the show from their windows. However many there were, they were doubtlessly in for quite a show.

"They sure are scary looking," Nancy said as she came up beside me, leaning on Jake for support. She gestured him away and reminded him, "I am a happily married woman you know..."

"Take him down hard and fast," Jake told me, then stepped back so that he could watch the fight clearly without getting in the way. "And make sure that he doesn't get back up..."

"Good Luck," Nancy told me again.

Just then, Rekegei's warriors began to move aside. They made a path and their leader slowly came walking through. Rekegei flashed that charming grin of his, right before his expression hardened. He slowly looked around, his dark eyes locking on me with a powerful intensity.

I gulped and stepped forward into the ring, taking a deep breath and telling myself that I could do it. Somehow, I would do it.

Rekegei and I stood in the designated fighting area and just stared across at each other for nearly a minute. Neither of us said a word or made a move as we tried taking each other's measure. But when he began to smirk, I had a feeling that I just just been found wanting.

I just tightened my grip on my katars and said, "Come and get me..."

But to my surprise, Rekegei made no move to charge at me. Instead, he shifted his position into a casual stance and gestured for me to come to him.

"Go get him," Nancy called out to me.

I grimaced, then charged straight at Rekegei. I knew that this might not be the smartest thing to do, but I was getting impatient and someone had to do something if that fight was ever going to actually start. And as I got close to him, I leapt, my katars extended for a fast series of punches. But before I could connect, Rekegei's arm suddenly shot out. I barely saw him move, yet I felt myself get hit three times and thrown back.

"KESTRA!" Nancy screamed out from the side as I hit the ground hard.

As soon as I hit the ground though, I shifted position and quickly returned to my feet, just in time to play defence against Rekegei. He was coming straight at me, fast and furious. His fists launched out with blinding speed and incredible power. It was all that I could do to block his attacks, which didn't leave me much opportunity to go on the offensive.

I found my opportunity a few seconds later by leaning back from one of his punches, hitting the ground with my hands and rolling backwards. As soon as I sprang to my feet again, it was to launch a bunch of chi charged throwing blades right at him. Unfortunately, none of them got through his defences.

"I am most disappointed," Rekegei said in a casual tone. "I had been hoping for a greater challenge..."

His comment made me grimace, but I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of an answer. Or at least I wasn't going to give him a verbal answer. Instead, I crossed my katars, channeled my energy and released it as an energy blast that caught him straight in the middle of his chest. His clothes were burned and it was obvious that I did some damage, just not anywhere near as much as I would have liked.

"So you can attack," Rekegei commented grimly, glaring at me with those dark eyes of his.

"You bet your ass I can," I snarled, leaping straight at him with my katars at the ready.

Rekegei blocked one of my katars, but I was fast enough to get past his guard with the other, at least enough so that I could give him a nasty gash on his shoulder. However, he didn't seem all that bothered by such a small injury. Instead, he seemed almost amused.

A moment later, Rekegei held out one of his hands. There was a brief moment when I wondered what he was going to do before I noticed the fire which suddenly appeared in his palm. Rekegei was holding a ball of fire, though it was anything but ordinary fire as it was all black.

"Like antifire...or negative fire," I muttered, thinking of a film negative.

Rekegei remained where he was for a few seconds, apparently just to give me time to see his black fire and admire it a bit. He certainly did have a flair for the dramatic, which he demonstrated by suddenly throwing the ball at me. I'd been half expecting something like that so I'd thougt to jump out of the way.

"Holy shit," I exclaimed as I looked behind me to where the ball of black fire had hit. There was a section of the street which now had a big hole melted in it, and a few flickers of the black fire still danced around it. "So that's why he's called the Black Flame..."

I stared at Rekegei, who just gave me that charming grin of his and seemed to think that I should be impressed. Of course, it didn't help my confidence any in that he was right and I was impressed. He'd just burned a nice sized hole in the ground and could easily have killed me if I hadn't been any faster.

Unfortunately, Rekegei decided to impress me some more because the black flame once again appeared in the palm of his hand. But what was worse was the fact that he had the same black flame in his other palm too. He suddenly clapped his hands togeter, and the flames in them seemed to merge and burst out, forming into a long whip made of the black fire.

"Not good," I muttered to myself.

There are times in life where being right about something is NOT a good thing. And unfortunately, this was one of those times. Rekegei snapped his black flame whip, and I just barely avoided being hit by it. The whip hit the ground behind me and burned a nice little trench in the concrete. And he was snapping the whip at me again.

I dodged around and avoided Rekegei's whip for the next minute or so, which was obviously beginning to annoy him. He would snap the whip at me and I'd jump to the side, avoiding any contact with it. I'd been a bit afraid of actually blocking his whip as I'd seen what it could do, but decided that it was time to shift back to a more offensive position. So when he snapped the whip at me again, I stood my ground and used my reflection technique, hoping and even praying that it would work.

"Yes," I grinned as the black flame snapped back at Rekegei and hit him square in the face.

His whole body seemed to burst into that black flame. But after a moment, I was stunned to realize that he didn't really seem bothered by it. The fire was going out from his body, except from where it continued to flicker in his hair, but he barely seemed to have been touched by it much less actually injured. In fact, the most that I seemed to have done with that move was to merely surprise him.

"Oh shit," I gulped, realizing that Rekegei must be immune from his own black flame. "Not good... Not good at all."

Just then, Jake suddenly came charging into the battle area, a glowing ball of blue chi energy held in his hands. And since he was going straight for Rekegei's back, it was obvious what he intended. Jake was taking advantage of Rekegei's distraction to finish him off.

Jake was just barely able to fire his chi blast before several attacks came bursting out of the sidelines. Within a moment, Jake had been hit by several chi blasts of various colors and styles, as well as some sort of energy arrow and a glowing red rope which tangled him up and dropped him right there on the spot.

"JAKE," I called out in horror, seeing that he was badly injured yet still alive.

I quickly looked over Rekegei's army on the sidelines and was reileved to see that they weren't in the middle of rushing the field. In fact, they were standing back which made me realize that they were only keeping Jake from rushing the field. These guys took personal combat VERY seriously, and he'd just broken one of their prime rules. Jake had just interferred in a fight between two individuals.

Rekegei staggered a bit after Jake's chi blast had hit him in the back, but he didn't go down and made no sign that he was about to. In fact, he seemed barely affected by that attack at all, though he did seem furious. He snapped around to face Jake, and without any hesitation lashed out with his black flame whip.

"JAKE," Nancy and I both screamed out at once, but it was too late. By the time that we'd been able to yell, Rekegei's black flame whip had already hit Jake and burned him in half. There was no doubt that our companion was dead.

I stared at what was left of Jake in horror, barely having known the man but feeling horrible that he'd died in such a fashion. I wanted to scream out, to demand to know why this had to happen to him. But the truth was that I already knew. Jake had been trying to stop Rekegei and save the Earth, the same as I was. He'd seen an opportunity and he had gone for it. There was little doubt in my mind that I probably would have done the the same thing if our places had been reversed.

"My God," I whispered, fighting back the tears that threatened to come.

At the moment, I wasn't about to let myself cry. I wasn't about to let myself fear sadness or grief. Instead, I focused it all on rage and determination. How dare Rekegei and his people come to my world? How dare they kill countless innocent people? If the only thing that these guys respected was strength and personal combat, then by God I was going to give it to them.

I let out a scream, followed by a blast of chi energy which Rekegei only barely managed to block, and then even some of it got through his defences and hurt him. And while he was dealing with that, I let loose with some chi aumgmented throwing blades, following that up with a direct charge straight at him. Rekegei was so overwhelmed by blocking one attack after another that I was able to break through his defences and injur him with each.

Rekegei was definitely loosing his cool at this point and there was no sign of his charming grin. Instead, he only had a fierce grimace and a dark glare. I had finally gotten him to take me as a serious opponent.

"You will burn for that woman," Rekegei snarled, nearly spitting it out.

"You've already tried that," I taunted him, "And as I remember, you've got a horrible aim.."

I stuck my tongue out at Rekegei, just to piss him off a little more, then charged at him again, jumping to the side at the last minute to send a barrage of chi enhanced throwing blades instead. And while he was blocking those, I swung back and got him good in the side. Unfortunately he was fast enough to hit me at that point and send me fly.

"Ah shit," I grimaced as I got back to my feet, my whole side aching where he'd hit me. In fact, it hurt like hell and made it a little difficult to breath. I figured that if Rekegei hadn't cracked my ribs with that blow, he must have at least bruised them pretty good.

Regekei winced and staggered a little from the injuries that I'd given him with the last attack. And a moment later, he gave me a steady look, one that meant business. And with that, he held out his hands, the black flame appearing in both of them. But the flame got bigger and darker than the previous times that he'd summoned it. There was a look of intense, absolute concentration on his face.

"I don't like the look of this," I mutterred, glancing to Nancy and silently praying that she didn't try jumping in to help me. She had the look on her face that suggested that she was considering it. But to my relief, she glanced to what was left of Jake and gulped, deciding to remain where she was.

When I looked back to Rekegei, he was taking his two hands and bringing them together again, much like how he had when creating that black flame whip. But instead of a whip, Rekegei formed a large sphere of the black flame which was about the size of a beach ball. He held it in both hands and slowly raised it above his head. And suddenly, I really didn't like that look on his face.

"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" I grimaced, bracing myself for just about anything.

However, I wasn't quite prepared for what Rekegei actually did with his ball of black flame. Instead of throwing it at me like I had expected, he just let go and dropped it to the ground.

The moment that Rekegei's flaming black ball hit the ground, it sort of exploded and black flames rushed out along the ground in a rapidly expanding circle. Rekegei stood in the middle of the growing circle of flame, completely unharmed, though everything else was burned and melted.
I managed to jump as high as I possibly could, just before the black flames reached me. However, there was nowhere to come down as everything within the circle was still burning a bit. My heart raced and my eyes darted around for a way out, but there didn't seem to be any. In just a moment, I would land in the middle of the burning circle and die.

"Kestra," I heard Nancy call out with more than a bit of fear in her voice.
However, I wasn't about to give up just yet. I crossed my katars, channeled my enery through them and blased the ground below me just as I was beginning to fall. The raw force from my own chi blast was enough to send me flying right back into the air, and with the angle I'd used, right towards Rekegei.

"Surprise!" I shoulted as I landed right on Rekegei, driving my katars straight into his shoulders.

Rekegei howled in pain and dropped to his knees, knocking me off and onto the ground. Fortunately, the flames had already died out near the area where they'd started so I wasn't burned to a crips when I hit. However, Rekegei immediately kicked me before I could get to my feet, so I went flying back again, this time with a crunching pain in my side.

"You vardech," Rekegei snarled furiously, "No one escapes my flame burst..."

It took me a moment to realize that he meant the flaming circle thing that I'd just escaped. "Sorry buddy, it looks like I just did..."

I smirked, feeling a bit pleased at myself for beating what was probably his signature move. However, I couldn't feel too enthusiastic about that as I hurt like hell. I had little doubt that this time I did have a broken rib or two.

Rekegei held his hand as though he were about to summon more of that black flame that he seemed so fond of. But this time there was only a faint flicker of fire in his palm, not nearly enough to form one of those fireballs that he threw earlier. He scowled in annoyance, making me realize that he was out of chi energy.

"That big one used it all," I whispered in relief.

I was realistic enough to realize that I didn't really have any major advantage over Rekegei at the moment. He might be injured and out of chi energy, but I was pretty wiped out myself and didn't have a whole lot of chi energy left either.

"I'd better make it count," I grimaced, deciding that it was time to use the ace up my sleave. "Get ready for a second wind..."

With that, I took a deep breath and used my second wind technique. I felt what was left of my chi energy flooding through my body, repairing my injuries and restoring my energy. A moment later, I was back at peak condition though I decided not to let Rekegei know that. Instead, I stood up and limped and doing my best to look as though I were still injured and exhausted.

Rekegei smirked down at me, looking absolutely confident in his coming victory. I just staggered a little, glaring at him defiantly. And when he came charging at me, I quickly snapped into motion, blocking his punch with one katar while slamming his side with my other one. He backhanded me in retaliation, but I turned just enough to avoid most of the impact from the blow.

After this, Rekegei and I slowly circled each other for half a minute before going at it again. This time there were no fancy tricks or chi moves, only our own physical abilities. We launched into a long series of rapid fire punches and kicks that would have been hard for even most trained martial artists to keep track of. It was just my katars against his fists, and I was under no illusion that my having weapons gave me an advantage.

Ten minutes after Rekegei and I had begun our brutal face to face assualt on each other, we were both getting tired and injured. He had taken more than a few nicks, cuts and bruises, while making sure that I got my share of damage as well. I was bruised all over from Rekegei's ferocious attacks, and that was after I'd managed to block, deflect or straight out avoid the worst of it.

Finally Rekegei and I pulled back from each other and began circling again. We were both looking for some weakness in the other's defence and trying to come up with some strategy to win. It was obvious to both of us that this fight couldn't go on for much longer so we were both looking for anything that would tip it to our advantage.

I took advantage of the brief opportunity to look around me and scan the sidelines. To my surprise, Rekegei's soldiers were watching me with expressions of respect. I guess I must have earned quite a bit of it in their eyes since I'd been able to keep up with their leader for so long. And since I was paying attention, I could actually hear a couple of them puting bet on me.

But then I overheard a couple of guys talking about how I might make a good mother for their children and I cringed. That was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I quickly returnd my full attention to Rekegei, knowing that I couldn't let myself get distracted like that. I couldn't give him that kind of an opportunity.

"I could use a third wind about now," I muttered, wishing that I had the chi energy for something like that.

Then I froze, smiling slightly as I realized something. Ever since I had gone through that training with Keiron, my ability to regenerate my chi had increased quite a bit. In fact, I had already built back a small amount of chi. I didn't have anough for a chi blast or any of my fancier tricks, but it just might be enough...

"You are a skilled warrior," Rekegei suddenly exclaimed, giving me that charming grin of his though it seemed a bit forced. "If you should survive this battle, I would like you to join my warriors..."

"I don't think so," I responded, not about to let down my guard for a moment.
Rekegei just shrugged, "It is unfortunate then that you challenged me, for I shall regret having to kill one who has provided me a challenge..."

Suddenly Rekegei came charging at me, though I had been expecting this. After those last statements he had made, I figured that he intended this to be the attack that finished me. And from the dark look in his eyes, I had knew that I didn't dare let him get his hands on me.

When Rekegei got close enoug to me, I made my move. I threw a hand full of throwing blades straight for his face. And when he went to block those ones, I charged my katar with every bit of chi energy that I had left...and thew it straight into his chest. It hit dead center and sank all the way to the hilt, causing Rekegei to stagger back a bit.

"Gotcha," I grimaced, knowing that the fight was over.

However, Rekegei proved me wrong by grimacing, spitting up some blood and then coming at me again. This time his charge was slow, but there was a lot of purpose in it. His eyes burned with an intensity that I'd never seen before. There was a fierce determination in his face and I suddenly realized that he intended to kill me with his final breath.

Rekegei was severely injured, and very likely mortally injurred, but that didn't seem to slow him down much once he'd made up his mind. Before I had realized it, he was right in front of me, throwing a punch at my face. And when I went to block it, he snatched my wrist, twisting my arm and causing me to scream in pain.

"My arm," I screamed out, sure that he'd dislocated it. It felt as though he were going to tear my arm right out of my shoulder.

But this wasn't enough for Rekegei who held his other hand out. A small black flame appeared in his palm, which apparently took just about all of his effort. It didn't look as large or as powerful as his previous attempts to summon the black fire, but I knew that at this range it wouldn't have to be. At this range, even the small fireball that he had formed in the palm of his hand would be completely lethal.

"KESTRA," Nancy screamed out, rushing out onto the field to help me. I don't think she'd even considered what would happen to her if she interferred.

"Stay back!" I yelled back, not taking my eyes away from Rekegei for a moment.

Rekegei didn't say a word, though it looked as though he was attempting to. He opened his mouth though all that came out of it was a bit of blood which ran down his chin. He glared at me and made the move to slam the ball of black fire right into my chest.

I reacted out of desperation and instinct more than any carefully crafted plan, and reached behind me with my free hand to summon the katar that I had thrown at Rekegei. It appeared in my hand when I called for it, much to my relief, apparently having returned to whatever limbo it came from after I'd thrown it at Rekegei.

An intstant later, I punched at Rekegei with a powerful uppercut that drove my katar straight in under his jaw and right into his brain. Rekegei immediately froze and a blank look appeared on his face. His eyes, which had been previous dark and viscious now appeared as flat and meaningless as a couple of marbles. Even the black flame which had been burning in his hand went out. And as a demonstration, Rekegei collapsed to ground as limply as a rag doll.

The crowd of Rekegei's warriors which had been surrounding us and watching the fight suddenly burst into a roar of noise. I couldn't even make out what they were all saying, nor did I really want to. At the moment, it was about all that I could do to just remain on my feet.

"I could definitely use another second wind," I sighed.

"Are you all right?" Nancy asked, suddenly appearaing by my side. She put her arm out and helped support me, which I thought was ironic since she was the one with the broken arm and badly sprained ankle. "I can't believe that..."

"Yeah," I grinned at her, "We did it..."

Suddenly I realized that Rekegei's warriors were no longer just standing back and giving us a lot of space. Now that I'd just killed Rekegei, they were all closing in, giving me some pretty intense looks.

"Uh oh," I gulped, realizing that with Rekegei gone we would still have to deal with these guys.

Kombat Champion
Part 16 of 16
By Morpheus

I grimaced as I stood over Rekegei's fallen body, barely able to stand as I did so. I had finally taken him out, though it had taken nearly everything that I had. And unfortunately, it didn't look as though my fighting was over as I still had to deal with his army.

"I thought that Keiron told you that all we had to do is beat Rekegei," Nancy grimaced, letting go of me and reaching for her swords.

"That's what he told me," I protested, looking around me and getting ready to fight. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to beat all of them, or even a fraction of them. There were far too many of them for me to even take on one at a time.

"You beat Rekegei," one man said as he stopped in front of me.

He was large, close to seven feet tall and covered with leather armor. A huge broadsword was strapped to his back though he made no move to draw it or even attack me. Instead, he just stood there, looking down on me with a fierce expression.

"It was a fair fight," I pointed out, clutching both of my katars and bracing myself to use them again if I had to. "It was one on one..."

"You beat Rekegei in personal combat," a tall woman with a purple mohawk stated.

"You have proven yourself a great champion of your people," the seven foot tall man said, giving a faint nod.

"She beat Rekegei in personal combat," the woman with the mohawk yelled out for everyone to hear.

There was a loud burst of noise at that, but the large man in front of me held out his hand and suddenly it all died down. He and the woman with the mohawk stared at each other, then at me.

Finally, the large man growled. "You beat our leader in personal combat... By our rules, that makes you our new leader..."

"What?" I blinked in surprise.

Nancy stared at him for a moment, then at me. "You've got to be kidding."

"You command," the woman told me, "and we obey."

"Until someone challenges you," Nancy pointed out, "Then they become the new leader...."

"Oh," I groaned, not sure that I liked the sound of all this. I wanted to stop this army from attacking Earth, not take it over.

But as I thought about it, I suddenly realized that this was exactly what Keiron had intended when he told me that we had to beat Rekegei. As long as Rekegei was in charge, he'd lead them from one world to another, attacking place after place. In order to stop the warriors, someone would have to take control of them. I would have to take control of them. And the only way to do that was to beat Rekegei.

I stood there for a moment, staring at the large man and the woman. Then I took a deep breath, trying to remain calm and think things through.

"So I'm your new leader?" I asked slowly, wanting to make sure that I understood it all correctly. "And you have to do whatever I tell you to do?"

"Such is our way," the woman pointed out with a nod.

I could tell that these warriors were all pretty surprised that anyone who was not one of their own had been able to beat Rekegei. And I had little doubt that it wouldn't be long before one of them got the bright idea to take leadership of their group back away from me, which could only mean my death in personal combat. That just wasn't going to cut it.

"I have just two orders for you," I said. Then I frowned and repeated it, yelling it louder, "I have only two orders for you all!"

"And these orders are?" the woman asked casually.

"The first," I responded grimly, "is to leave this world... I want you all gone!" I slowly looked around to make sure that they all saw how serious I was, "I want you all to go back to your own world."

"And the other?" the big man scowled.

I stared up at him for a moment before announcing, "I want you all to stay there."

A loud murmer started up from Rekegei's warriors. I couldn't quite make out what any of them were saying, but it was obvious that a lot of them were unhappy with my decision.

"I want you all to go home and stay there," I ordered. "It's not right to go from world to world causing this kind of destruction. In fact," decided to hit them where it hurt, "Those are the acts of cowards..."

The crowd suddenly errupted into even more noise, though I just stood there and glared around. I was pretty unhappy with these guys and was more than willing to let them know.

"Only cowards attack those weaker than them," I growled, gesturing to the buildings which surrounded us, "How many innocent people have you all killed, just because you could? If you want to fight, you can damn well fight each other instead, because I don't want you doing this to other worlds again..."

"You might have gone a little far," Nancy warned me.

After a moment, the woman with the mohawk took a step towards me, giving me an intense look as she did so. For a brief instant, I was sure that she was going to attack me for daring to call her and her people cowards.

But to my surprise, the woman simply stated, "I have long desired to see my family again."

"I haven't seen my sons in years," the seven foot tall man added.

"My wife...," another man said from the side.

"My oldest boy should be of age to choose a school," the seven foot tall man grinned with a sudden expression of great pride. "And I can begin instructing my youngest..."

Within moments, a large number of the warriors were nodding their heads and making similar comments. And when I looked at them, there werea a lot of looks of homesickness.

"That's unexpected," Nancy commented with a look of disbelief.

I just nodded, knowing exactly how she felt. I had expected them all to fight and argue about going back to their home, not stand around and look homesick.

It was about this time that a man stepped forward with a strange looking crystal ball in his h ands. The crystal ball was glowing and looked as though it had a rainbow trapped within. And as he came forward, the the other warriors stepped out of his way, giving him a clear path.

Mohawk gave me a steady look before saying, "I assume that you would choose to remain in this world..."

"You'd assume right," I told her.

"That is a pity," the large man beside her commented. "You are a great warrior... I am disappointed that I shall not be able to challenge you myself some day..."

"We all have to live with disappointments," I told him, giving a forced smile. I was just glad that he didn't seem interested in challenging me right then and there. But there was probably some kind of rule against challenging someone right after a huge fight like that.

I turned to look at the man with the crystal ball and watched as he lifted it above his head. The crystal glowed brighter and suddenly the rainbow that had been contained within burst free and escaped. It swirled all over the place, with every color there was swirling and mixing. Then the colors finally pulled themselves back together, forming into the shape of a large circle in the air.

"It's like something out of Stargate," I exclaimed, thinking of one of my favorite shows.

Since the gate between worlds was now open, the warriors wasted little time before going through it. Each of them paused to bow in my direction before going through and vanishing. After just a couple of minutes, only a few of the warriors remained, and even they were soon to be gone.

"You are a great champion," Mohawk commented, giving a bow before she too rushed through the glowing circle and disappeared.

"I wish you good fortune and good fighting," the large man told me just before he stepped through the circle as well.

Finally, all of Rekegei's warriors were gone except one. The only one who remained was the man who held the crystal ball above his head. Then even he bowed to me before silently walking through the gate, which suddenly snapped shut and vanished behind him.

"They're gone," Nancy whispered, staring around the empty city streets. There was a whole world of relief in her voice as she exclaimed, "It's over..."

I just nodded at that, "Finally..." Then I let out a long sigh of relief and told her, "Now I just want to go to bed..."

"Right this way," Nancy told me, gesturing to the hotel where we'd stayed during our two hour rest.

We walked right past Jake, or at least what was left of him. I tried not to look at Jake's body, feeling a surge of guild because he had died while trying to help me. He had died because I hadn't been able to beat Rekegei soon enough.

"Poor Jake," I whispered, "We need to make sure he gets a good burial..."

Nancy nodded, "He deserves it."

After a minute of silence, Nancy and I went back inside of the building. The people who had been hiding inside immediately began to scatter, though a few who recognized us from earlier remained behind. They have us odd looks.

"You don't have to worry abou those guys," Nancy called out, then gestured to me, "She kicked their leaders ass so they've all left."

"What?" one guy who was a manager of the hotel gasped.

I jujst nodded, "Yeah... They're gone and they won't be back. It's safe again."

The manager, as well as everyone else within hearing gasped and rushed to the doors to look outside. And as soon as they saw that it was clear with no sign of those warriors anywhere in sight, they began talking excitedly. I barely paid any attention to this though as I continued towards my room.

"At least the lights and power are back on now," Nancy commented, making me realize for the first time that everything was back up and working. "That'll make things a bit easier..."

Once we were back in the room, Nancy checked on Pi who was excited to hear that the fighting was done and over. I just collapsed into a chair, wishing that I had enough chi for another second wind. That would certainly make it much easier to recover.

"They're gone?" Pi gasped out after Nancy had explained about my victory, "All right..."

"For good," Nancy grinned.

Suddenly, someone was knocking on the door. "All right," Pi exclaimed, "It's room service..."

Nancy and I both glared at Pi before she quickly went to open the door. To my surprise, Keiron was the one standing there. He didn't say a word as he came in, then slowly looked around the room.

"I see that you have succeeded," Keiron said, bowing towards me, "You have my congratulations."

"Thanks," I told him.

"So you're the one who did this to me...to us," Nancy exclaimed, giving Keiron a steady glare.

"That I am," Keiron nodded.

Nancy glared at him for a moment more before asking, "Now that Rekegei is gone, can you change us back?"

"I fear that this is not an option," Keiron shrugged, not looking at all sorry. "I did that which was necessary to create champions for your world... Those forms, as well as the skills and powers which come with them are yours to keep for the rest of your lives."

"Just great," Nancy groaned, not looking too disappointed.

"Do you think that there's any chance they'll be coming back?" I asked Keiron. "I told them to go home, but what if...?"

Keiron was silent for a moment before slowly saying, "I can not say with certainty that they will never leave their own world again. But I am confident that they will not return to their old ways. Without Rekegei to lead them to other worlds..."

"And what about you?" I asked. "What are you going to do now?"

There was a moment of silence before Keiron slowly responded, "I will return to my own world." His expression turned quite sad. "When Rekegei killed my son, I was left with a grandson to help raise... And now that Rekegei has been dealt with, I can face him with a clear conscience."

"Wow," I whispered, having heard about how his son had died due to Rekegei, but I'd never heard anything about a grandson. "I didn't know..."

Keiron only nodded, then gave a weak smile. "I am eager to return home, and to have my bretheren recalled from their missions as well..."

"So you're leaving, eh?" Pi exclaimed as he sat up on the side of the bed, wincing a bit as he did so.

"I guess we should thank you for helping us fight Rekegei," Nancy admitted, though Keiron only shrugged.

"Thanks," I told him simply.

I didn't specify whether I was thanking Keiron for giving me the form and power of a champion, giving me the training which I used in my fight against Rekegei...or for giving me a whole new life with a thousand new opportunities. Nor did I see any reason to specify as I meant all of those and more. Without Keiron, Rekegei would have been running over our world with no one to stop him.

Keiron stared at me for a moment and smiled. "You have done your world proud. You have done me proud. And you truly are the kombat champion." And then he gave me a deep bow before adding, "Farewell and good fortune..."

A moment later, Keiron turned and walked out of the hotel door. All three of us watched him closely and I felt a bit sad that he was going to leave.

"Goodby," I called after him. "And good luck..."

Pi just sat there with a grin, waving to Keiron and calling out, "So long and thanks for all the fish."

I glared at Pi, annoyed at his being a smartass at that moment, but when I looked back to Keiron he was gone. The man who had created Kombat Champions and created the champions to save our world from Rekegei was gone.

"So what now?" Nancy asked.

I hesitated a moment, then sighed, "We rest and recover. And then... Then we go one with our lives."

--------------------

I let out a faint sigh as I slowly walked down the street, barely paying any attention to my surroundings. Instead, my thoughts were a million miles away. Well, Las Vegas might not technically be that far away, but sometimes it seemed like it.

It had been four months since the big battle in Las Vegas, and I still kept thinking about it nearly every day. Fortunately though, the whole story wasn't in the news all of the time anymore.

Right after the whole thing had happened, the news had kept going on about some sort of electro-magnetic pulse or at least some form of electro-magnetic interference which had temporarily wiped out power in Vegas. Never mind the fact that all cars and every other form of modern technology besides electronics had gone dead as well.

At the same time, there were some people in the government and news who were claiming that the 'terrorists' responsible had also let loose some sort of hallucinagenic gas which made everyone see people in strange costumes fighting out in the street. That was a nice and convenient way to explain away the witnesses who'd seen peole shooting energy beams and the like from their hands.

"Worse than than the costume theory," I muttered, thinking about how some people thought that the costumed fighters were just people from some sort of fantasy convention that had come out and been mistaken for other things.

And of course, there were more than a few people yelling out the magic word of 'conspiracy'. They were claiming that the whole thing was result of some Top Secret government weapon having accidentally gone off from Nellis Air Force Base and having caused the whole mess.

"So much bullshit," I thought aloud, knowing that there were a thousand theories, with only one or two of them even coming close to the truth.

Then again, I don't really care what other people thought about what happened in Las Vegas. I didn't care if people never found out about how I'd faught Rekegei and saved the world. In fact, I preferred that they didn't.

However, there were a few stories floating around about me. There was talk that a blue haired woman had faught the leader of the warriors and chased them all away. Fortunately, most people didn't believe those stories, and few who did thought to connect them to me. After all, how difficult was it to dye your hair blue?

Chase Maxwell and several other people I worked with had been giving me odd looks now and then since the whole incident, though none of them had come right out and said anything. I think that Chase at least suspected something but had decided that he didn't really want to know. And for this, I was quite thankful as I didn't want to give any more explanations.

But as for myself, I had been keeping pretty busy since the fight in Las Vegas. I had been working pretty hard over the last two months on Chase Maxwell's latest movie and we were halfway through filming. It was great, and exciting to be the star of a movie.

And then to make the movie even more exciting, it wasn't going to be direct to video anymore. After what had happened in Vegas, interest in martial arts and fighting stories had increased and Chase got a lot more money for the movie. In fact, our budget had more than doubled so for once Chase was going to make a movie for hte big screen...with me as the star.

"I can't wait to see it," I grinned, hardly able to believe that I was going to be in a movie that was in the theaters. "I can't wait to see that last one with Tyler either..." But the movie that I had already made with Tyler Reese wouldn't be out on video for at least a few more months.

At the moment though, I wasn't thinking of work so much as some personal business that I needed to attend to. That was why I was currently walking down the sidewalk, on my way to take care of my little errand.

I had to admit though that I probably wasn't dressed the most appropriately for what I had to do, but it was what I felt like wearing. My long blue hair was flowing free rather than being kept in the pony tail that I usually wore. Add that to the fact that I had on a nice blue dress and a pair of stiletto heeled shoes and I made quite an impression. Guys were staring at me quite a bit, and though they did nothing for me, I still found the attention to be rather amusing.

"I've been wearing grungy clothes and dressing like some kind of warrior all week," I told myself defensively, thinking about all of the tough rebel leader scenes that I'd been filming for the last couple of weeks. "I deserve a chance to dress sexy now and then too..."

Of course, wearing sexy clothes was one of the things that I'd come to enjoy about my new body and life. But there were so may other things as well, and far too many to possibly count.

When I arrived at my destination a minute later, I paused, all thoughts of my clothes, the admiring looks I was getting and even about my busy movie schedule all flew from my mind. Instead, I grew quite serious and braced myself for anything that might occur. I only vaguely wished that that I'd dressed a little more sensibly before I finally went in.

I stepped into an office and stared at Beauchamp Meeks, who sat behind the desk. The woman who always seemed to accompany him was behind him while two of his fighters stood to the side, looking pretty tough, though I knew that neither of them would be any problem for me. Then again, since I was wearing a dress and high heels, I wouldn't be at my best.

"Mr. Meeks," I nodded to him.

"You said that you had something that you wished to discuss with me," he responded in a fairly pleasant tone.

I just nodded, silently reminding myself that this man was connected with a few illegal dealings besides just the underground fights. There was no telling what he might do if I got him angry.

"I've decided not fight anymore," I told him, "At least not in any of these arenas..."

Mr. Meeks suddenly sat up a bit more straight and gave me an intense look. "And might I ask why? Your fighting has made me a good deal of money, and I believe that you can say the same..."

"I can," I admitted, "But I've decided that it's time to move on to other things. I've enjoyed the chance to fight here, but now I need to leave..."

For a moment, Meeks only stared at me with a deep scowl. I knew that he'd made quite a lot of money from my fights, so he couldn't be at all happy with my decision to leave. I braced myself for what might come next, knowing that he might very well try to stop me.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Mr. Meeks frowned, "I wish you well in your other endeavors..."

I blinked in surprise, a little startled at his comment. "That's it?"

Mr. Meeks nodded. "I won't lie and say that I am happy about your decision. You have made me a great deal of money and would continue to make me money as long as you faught." Then he paused for a moment, leaning back and rubbing his chin. "I could force you to continue fighting in the ring... I doubt that physical threats would work, but I could always use what I know of where you acquired your birth certificate and legal standing..."

"Oh," I gulped, never having considered that he might try blackmailing. I had thought that he might try some sort of strongarm tactics, or try having his fighters stop me directly. But if he told people about my birth certificate being a phony... Well, I knew that I'd been in deep shit and without any legal standing again.

But to my surprise, Meeks just shrugged. "However, I am wise enough to quite while I am ahead. You could undoubtedly make me more money, but I suspect that in the long run that would not be to my best interests and that I would lose money..." He gave me a gentle smile before adding, "I believe that my best course is to accept that I have already made a great deal and to let out dealings end on a pleasant note."

"Thank you," I told him, letting out a sigh of relief.

"Your records are good ones," he told me with a pleasant nod. "They will bear up to most scrutiny, and I assure you that I have no intention of ever recomending that anyone take a closer look."

"Thanks again," I responded.

Mr. Meeks stood up at that and offered his hand, "I wish you luck. And if you are ever interested in returning to the ring..."

"I'll come to you for sponsorship," I assured him with a smile, taking his hand and shaking it.

I turned and left the office a minute later, feeling much more relieved that this whole thing was taken care of. I was no longer in the underground fighting business. Sure, it had made me a good deal of money while I'd been going, but now that I had some legal standing and was involved in making movies, I figured that I had better straighten my act out all the way and go legitimate.

"There's always the Ultimate Fighting Championships," I reminded myself, knowing that I wasn't out of fighting for good. There were still plenty of places that I could go legally, though I knew that none of them would provide me with any challenge. In fact, the only real challenge I had was when I sparred with Nancy. "She's going to be glad that there wasn't any trouble...."

Nancy had suggested going with me when I quit, but I had turned her down, telling her that I could take care of it on my own. I was glad that everything had worked out all right or I might have had to listen to an 'I told you so' or two. That definitely wouldn't be pleasant.

Of course, Nancy had been pretty happy to stay at home with Tom. He'd had a bit of a hard time accepting that Nancy could kick his ass without any effort, but she hadn't shown off much and was working hard to help him accept the new her. And it was undoubtedly working very well as they both seemed deliriously happy.

"I can't wait to get home," I grinned, my thoughts suddenly turning to my own lover Tina.

Tina and I had gotten even closer over the months, surprising me at times by just how close we had become. It was hot and passionate sex, as well as so much more. Sometimes it seemed strange being a lesbian relationship, though most of the time in only seemed wonderful. In fact, I had finally moved out of Tom and Nancy's place, and had gotten a place together with Tina.

One of the first things that I'd done after moving into the large apartment with Tina was to buy a new computer and entertainment center which were even bigger and better than the ones that I'd lost. But the irony was that I wasn't all that interested in watching movies or playing video games anymore. How can those things possibly compare to all of the excitement that I get every day in my own real life?

"What game could compare to her?" I asked myself with a dreamy smile, eager to return home and into her waiting arms.

I sighed faintly as I thought about my beautiful Tina and what we would do once I got back. But even though the two of us had become so extremely close, I still hadn't told her about who I had been before my transformation. I still hadn't told her that I was a guy named Craig Belmond, nor did I ever really intend to.

"Craig is gone," I told myself aloud, knowing that it was true.

The person that I had been before my transformation was long gone and would never return. I wouldn't return to being Craig even if I could. I had changed far too much for that, and not just physically. There times were I could barely even remember what it was like to be that person. That life was in the past and I preferred to live the one that I had in front of me.

"Who I was before is irrelevant," I whispered with a smile, "All that matters is who I am now..."

It had been hard to accept at first, but I knew who I was. My driverse license said that I was Karen Tracy Roads, though I knew that I was MUCH more. I was a movie star, a fighter, a lover and a friend. But more than that, I was Kestra the Jagged Wind...and the Kombat Champion. And the truth was...I wouldn't have it any other way.

THE END



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