A Midsummer Night's Beauty, Part II: Queen of Extreme
by rkOujirou

Author's note: This story is a continuation on the Ranma 1/2 anime, including the OVA's and movies. Therefore, keep in mind that anything exclusive to the manga hasn't happened in this story.

Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 is not my idea, it was created by a very talented manga artist named Rumiko Takahashi. The only characters I'll claim are my own original characters that I've added into this story. Just so you know.

Chapter 5

At the Cat Café restaurant, Ringo, who'd come over first thing in the morning to see her friends off on their trip, stood outside with Ranma and Shampoo just as they were readying to leave.

"You and Kodachi ready for the match today?" Ranma asked her, hoisting his backpack onto his shoulders.

"O-oh, yeah, I think so. We've been working on that coordination issue the last couple nights, and I think Kodachi's getting some of her stamina back, so we should be better than last time...I hope. But...still..." Ringo said, watching as Shampoo locked the restaurant's door, "this whole trip is awfully sudden, you guys. Right after I got to come back to work, too..."

Shampoo smiled and shrugged her shoulders as she put her key away. "It surprise Shampoo, too, but Ranma right. Is good go away for change."

"Yeah. 'Sides, a little extra free time can't hurt. Now ya got more time to help Kodachi or do other stuff 'til we get back," Ranma added, trying to brighten his former female half's outlook on the situation. "You probably ain't gonna see Alysse too much though, unless she comes and finds ya like she did the other day..."

Ringo had to giggle at the memory of her blonde-haired friend's unexpected appearance on the way back from school a few days ago. "Actually, we made plans to see each other this week!"

Ranma quirked an eyebrow at the young waitress. "You mean...like...outside this place?"

"Mhmm!" Ringo cheerfully nodded.

"You is serious?" Shampoo placed her hands on her hips, sounding annoyed. "She make so much fuss for that, too. Shampoo no understand that one..."

"Um...well, that's good then," Ranma scratched his head. "Anyway, we're gonna get goin'. Good luck with the match, Ringo. Just don't get all nervous and you'll be fine."

"Ahaha...I'll try not to," Ringo waved to them. "Be careful, you guys! And come back soon!"

"You no worry! Bye bye, Ringo!" Shampoo waved back.

As Ranma and Shampoo took off down the road, Ringo took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. It was time to focus on her main objective for the day.

"Okay! Time to get ready for Kodachi's match!"

Ringo met up with Kodachi just before noon, and the two of them embarked on their train rides to the island of Odaiba, each with a bag of gymnastics tools draped over their shoulders. Having not seen the sights of Odaiba before, Ringo was enjoying the ride quite a bit, particularly when things like the giant ferris wheel came into view.

Kodachi, on the other hand, was unusually quiet. She felt better than she had at the qualifying event, especially now that her eye was starting to look normal again, but there was still the feeling of butterflies in her stomach after not competing in an official match for such a long time. And this was one very important match. With a win, she would move on to the next round of the tournament. With a loss, she was finished, and she wouldn't get the chance to face Kiriko Nakajima again. And as she'd seen just days earlier, Mizuki McLoughlin was certainly a skilled enough opponent to be a threat to her.

Once the train stopped on the island, the martial arts rhythmic gymnastics duo walked for a bit before eventually making it to the site of today's matches; the Hiroyuki Tanaka Arena.

"We're here..." Ringo said, marveling at the huge building. It was still about an hour and a half until the event started, but there was already a line of fans waiting to be granted access to the arena.

Beside her, Kodachi gripped the strap of her gym bag tightly, trying to ease her nerves some. Then, once she felt mentally prepared, she planted her foot forward and began moving toward the entrance.

"Let's go!"

After being given clearance to go inside, Kodachi and Ringo moved along the foyer of the arena toward the dressing rooms. At the entrance to every section of seats, they could see down into the main part of the arena that contained the ring.

"Wow! It's gigantic!" Ringo said in amazement. "Are they really going to fill all those seats?"

"No. Not today, at least," Kodachi answered. "First round matches in this tournament are quite unbalanced and can end very quickly. Only the fans with dedication will likely come to watch."

"Miss Kuno!"

From out of the the main part of the arena, a busy-looking man with a headset approached Kodachi.

"Hi there! I'm part of the production crew here," he introduced himself.

"Oh, I see. What is it?" Kodachi asked him.

"Well, we haven't received word on what music you want played during your entrance," he explained. "Did you bring some of your own, or-"

"I will not be using any."

The crew member gave Kodachi an awkward look. "Um...I beg your pardon?"

"I said I do not need any," the dark-haired gymnast repeated herself. "Is that a problem?"

"Well...n-no, I guess not," the man answered, still a bit confused. "No entrance music it is! Sorry to bother you."

As the crew member ran off to work on other things, Ringo wondered about the reasoning of her partner.

"Why don't you want any music for your entrance?"

"Music is used to uplift gymnasts and excite the crowd for their arrival. A gymnast who does not use it is written off as being inferior," Kodachi told her.

The explanation did nothing to help the understanding of Ringo, who looked even more puzzled than before.

Seeing that her second wasn't comprehending, Kodachi stopped and looked her in the eye. "I am the 11th Seed in this tournament. That means I am going to be underestimated by my opponents. Since that is the card I've been dealt, I plan on using it fully to my advantage."

"So...you're going to make them think you're not very good?" the young redhead blinked.

"Precisely," Kodachi smirked.

The two of them were continuing to walk toward the dressing rooms when Ringo began to smell a unique scent that seemed familiar to her somehow.

"What are you doing?" Kodachi asked, getting annoyed with her second's odd behavior of sniffing the air.

"I know that smell! But...hmm...do you know what it is?" Ringo asked.

"Why would I?" Kodachi snapped back at her.

Undeterred by her partner's attitude, Ringo continued to follow the scent until a cart sitting along the side of the foyer caught her attention.

From behind her cooking surface, a brown-haired girl with a large spatula noticed the pair walking by as she poured out another round of batter.


"Ukyo!" Ringo shouted, hurrying over to her classmate's okonomiyaki cart.

"Hey there, Sugar! I heard about you and Kodachi from Ran-chan, but it's still weird seeing it in person," Ukyo laughed. She briefly peeked over at Kodachi, who simply folded her arms and turned away, clearly not interested in any conversation with her old rival. "Nice to see her 'tude hasn't changed..."

"Haha! S-she's just a little nervous about today," Ringo whispered, not wanting to get herself in trouble. "What are you doing here though?"

"Business," Ukyo grinned. "When I followed Ran-chan and Shampoo here a few months ago, I noticed they didn't have many different food vendors. So after that I came back and got permission to sell my okonomiyaki during their events, and I've been making a killing!"

"Ohh...so that's where you disappear to sometimes on the weekends," Ringo began to realize. "But are you feeling okay? You just had that cold..."

Ukyo nodded her head emphatically, easing her classmate's concerns. "I'm feeling a lot better now...in more ways than one."

"Ringo! We do not have all day!" Kodachi yelled out impatiently to grab her second's attention.

"O-oh, sorry!" Ringo apologized, looking back at Ukyo. "Sorry, I'd better go! I'll see you later, Ukyo."

"Alright," the okonomiyaki chef smiled. "Good luck, Ringo. Mizuki's a tough one."

While Kodachi and Ringo walked off, Ukyo thought about their upcoming match as she continued preparing her merchandise for later.

"Kodachi against Mizuki, huh? One way or another, that should be interesting..."

Keeping true to her desire to stay low-profile, Kodachi opted to wear her plain green St. Hebereke school leotard and spent her remaining free time loosening up. As the start of the event neared, more and more noise could be heard coming from the arena seats where a large number of spectators were gathering, many of them loyal supporters from the schools of the gymnasts. Kodachi also learned that she and Mizuki would be competing in the second match of the day.

At 3 o' clock in the afternoon, with the seats roughly 60 percent filled, the first round of the Queen of Extreme Tournament continued from the previous day, starting with the opening bout between the 7th Seed, Yuki Hasegawa, and the 10th Seed, Fujiko Kobayashi. Being one of the more even match-ups of this round, the match lasted almost a full 20 minutes before the 10th Seeded Kobayashi pulled out a narrow victory.

During the ensuing intermission, crew members took Kodachi's tools from her dressing room out to the ringside area, leaving she and Ringo with the reality that the start of their match was imminent.

"Wow, I'm starting to get kind of nervous..." Ringo admitted, trying to steady her breathing to calm down.

"Well stop it then. I need you calm and focused," Kodachi told her. "We've prepared for this, have we not? Just ignore the crowd and act as though we were in my training dungeon."

Ringo closed her eyes and tried to do as her partner instructed. "Ignore the crowd...ignore the crowd..."

A few minutes later, the referee for the match opened the dressing room door to address the girls.

"It's time, Miss Kuno," she said.

Seemingly relaxed, the Black Rose stood up from her seat looking confident.

"Very well."

Once the referee had left, Kodachi turned to her fidgety second to make sure she was okay.

"Are you ready?"

Ringo lightly smacked her face a few times in an attempt to will herself out of her nervousness. "Ready!"

The two of them headed for the door, but Kodachi placed a hand on Ringo's shoulder to stop her before they went any further.

"Hmm? What is it?" the red-haired girl asked.

"I forgot to tell you something important," Kodachi said to her. "Once the bell rings, try to grab the referee's leg and trip her."

Ringo looked extremely confused by the peculiar suggestion. "W-what? But...we're not supposed to do something like that, are we?"

"Of course! It's a tradition here," Kodachi assured her. "Make sure you do it before Mizuki's second does. Understand?"

"Oh...well, okay! I don't really get it, but I'll do my best!" Ringo beamed.

What she didn't notice was the devilish smile that began to cross Kodachi's face.


Out in the main part of the arena, Kodachi and Ringo emerged from a corridor and into the view of the crowd as they made their way to the ring area. The complete lack of fanfare left the fans noticeably quiet and unsure what to make of the Black Rose of St. Hebereke.

"No music? What's up with that?"

"She must not be ready at all. This is gonna be over quick!"

Despite being given a polite round of applause from some members of the audience, Kodachi refused to acknowledge them as she hopped over the ropes and into the ring. While Ringo took her place outside and readied Kodachi's tools, the younger Kuno sibling leaned back into one of the corners, appearing calm as she awaited her opponent.

After a brief pause, the spotlights on the ceiling began to shine green and white and a festive song of the Celtic rock variety started playing over the speakers, signaling the entrance of Mizuki McLoughlin. Wearing her dark red hair in braids just like at the qualifying event, Mizuki, along with her second, emerged from the dressing room area wearing her green and white leotard and got a rousing ovation from the crowd.

"This is your year, Mizuki!"

"This girl doesn't even have entrance music, Mizuki! You've got nothing to worry about!"

"Take her out quick! Save your energy for the next round!"

Mizuki and her second slapped hands with some of the fans on their way to the ring, and then pointed to a section of students from their school that were holding up a giant banner with her name on it. She was known for putting up a good fight no matter who she was against, and that had earned her the respect of all EGF fans over time, regardless of who their favorite gymnasts were.

Having acknowledged the crowd, an energetic Mizuki hopped into the ring and bounced off the ropes a few times to get comfortable as her music faded out. Glancing over into the corner opposite her, she shot Kodachi a confident smile, but one that got no reaction out of her opponent.

With both competitors having arrived, the announcer for the evening entered the ring with his microphone to kick things off.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, we continue with the first round of the Queen of Extreme Tournament!" he bellowed enthusiastically, drawing an excited roar from the fans.

"Introducing first, representing St. Hebereke School for Girls, she is making her return to the Extreme Gymnastics Federation after a three year absence! Let's hear it for Kodachi "The Black Rose" Kuno!"

Ignoring any applause she received, which wasn't much, Kodachi remained stoic as she relaxed in the corner of the ring with her eyes fixated on Mizuki.

"And her opponent," the announcer continued, "representing Joudai Academy and making her third straight Queen of Extreme Tournament appearance, she is the always exciting Mizuki McLoughlin!"

The half-Irish, half-Japanese gymnast struck a pose and waved to her supporters as the crowd voiced their support for her.

As the announcer left the ring, the referee for the match stepped toward the center to give the gymnasts some final instructions.

"Okay, I'm sure you both know the rules," the referee said to them. "You can win by knockout, ring out, or submission. If you land outside the ring, you lose. If you are knocked down and cannot answer my ten count, you lose. And you must use tools to attack! Continued failure to abide by the rules will result in you being disqualified. Is that understood?"

Up in the lower-priced seats, Ukyo watched on as both competitors gave a brief nod to the referee. "Here we go..."

While Mizuki grabbed a ribbon from her second, Kodachi leaned down next to Ringo to get her starting tools.

"Ringo, give me a club."

"Just one?"


Ringo handed Kodachi a club as instructed and waited anxiously for the match to begin.

Confirming that both girls were ready, the referee called for the bell to sound and officially start the first round match.

*ding ding ding!*

"Mi-zu-ki! Mi-zu-ki! Mi-zu-ki!"

Hearing a number of the fans starting to chant her name in the background as the match began, Mizuki looked eager to go on the attack, but waited for the moment to see how her opponent would start the match. The first move of the Black Rose wasn't something that she would have expected though.

Much to the surprise of Mizuki and many of the people in attendance, Kodachi started out by walking to the middle of the ring and holding out her empty hand as an offering of sportsmanship.

"K-Kodachi...?" Ringo stammered, baffled at the turn of events.

"What is this, some kind of joke?" Mizuki scoffed at the offering.

Appearing earnest in her intentions, Kodachi shook her head in response. "I was impressed with how you defeated me in our qualifying match, that is all. I merely wish for us to have another match worthy of our talents, and I believe we should start it off properly. What say you, Mizuki McLoughlin?"

Mizuki, who was understandably hesitant, looked around at the audience members for some additional opinions. Interestingly, she found that most of them seemed to be urging her to go ahead and shake the hand of the Black Rose of St. Hebereke.

"Well, this is mighty odd, but..." Mizuki laughed a bit. Keeping herself guarded, she slowly stepped forward and accepted Kodachi's handshake, garnering a round of cheers from the crowd. "Best o' luck, Black Rose."

Ringo nearly fainted from the shock of what she was seeing. "Sh-she actually shook someone's hand. My gosh, anything really is possible! Just think what this means for humanity! If Kodachi can change her ways, then surely anyone can...oh!"

It was then that Kodachi's second saw the referee walk by her side of the ring and remembered what she'd been told earlier.

"I almost forgot!"

Moving in quick, Ringo reached out and yanked the referee's feet out from under her, drawing a loud yelp from the woman in the black and white striped shirt as she fell flat to the ring canvas. Irritated, to say the least, the referee spun around and glared a hole through the pure-intentioned Ringo.

"What are you doing?" she snarled.

Ringo stepped back, startled by the official's anger. "H-huh? But, I thought..."

Well aware of what was going on in her corner of the ring, a devious look crossed the face of Kodachi Kuno.

"Did I not tell you the last time?" she grinned shrewdly at her opponent. "You should have kept the luck for yourself."

In a shocking move, Kodachi then let out a loud cry and fell down to the canvas holding the back of her head.

The crowd had no idea what had happened, nor did the referee, who had just turned around to find the dark-haired gymnast grounded and in pain.

"Oww! Why you-!" Kodachi cried out, pointing an accusing finger at Mizuki. "Referee, she pulled my hair!"

"What?" Mizuki shrieked.

The referee seemed extremely puzzled as she looked down at Kodachi and then back at Mizuki. "Did you pull her hair?"

"NO!" the confused gymnast yelled.

"Liar!" Kodachi contested, still holding her head. "Look in her hands!"

As was her job duty, the referee grabbed Mizuki's wrists to check her out. "Come on, open your hands..."

"Oh, this is ridiculous!" Mizuki fumed, gladly opening her hands up. "You see? Noth-!"

"What's this?" the referee interrupted.

Mizuki was speechless as she, just like the referee, found a number of black strands of hair sitting in her palm.

"What's this?" she thought to herself. "Wait...when we shook hands, she must have-!"

"Do you think I'm an idiot? You still have her hair in your hand!" the referee chided her.

"N-no! You're wrong! This is-!" the girl with braids stuttered.

It was too late for explanations. The referee blew the whistle hanging around her neck, signaling a rules infraction.

"That's a warning! One more and you're disqualified!"

A chorus of boos rained down from the seats as Mizuki's fans voiced some extreme displeasure with the referee's warning, and that was only the beginning of it. In utter disbelief of the terrible call, Mizuki's second got up on the ring apron and began shouting at the official, which drew her over to the corner to tell the second to get down. Absolutely irate, Mizuki herself then went over into the corner and got in the referee's face as well.

"How can you give me a warning for that? You never even saw it!" she screamed, throwing her ribbon down on the mat.

"The evidence was right there in your hand! Why would I not?" the referee snapped back at her.

"Kodachi put it there when we shook hands! I never pulled her hair!" Mizuki angrily protested.

"Enough! I have heard enough, do you hear me?" the referee yelled. "My decision is final! Now continue the match!"

"No!" Mizuki growled. "I am not letting this go until you f-!"


Out of nowhere, Kodachi came up from behind Mizuki and drilled her in the back of the head with her club. Being right at the edge of the ring, the force of the blow knocked the red-haired gymnast far enough over the top rope that her own weight carried her completely over it and down to the arena floor. As per the rules, Kodachi had won.

Despite the venomous reaction of the crowd, the referee immediately called for the bell and raised the hand of an extremely happy Kodachi Kuno in victory as the announcer delivered the official decision.

"Your winner by ring out, and moving on to the quarterfinals: Kodachi "The Black Rose" Kuno!"

Mizuki's fans couldn't believe what had just happened to their beloved gymnast. Some of them were so upset that they began showering the ring with drink cups and anything else they could get their hands on.

"That's a load of crap!"

"You call yourself a gymnast? Gimme a break!"

"Oooohohohoo!" Kodachi laughed joyously amid the scene of chaos. "Sorry to disappoint all of you, but I am simply the better woman!"

Up in the crowd, Ukyo had to rub her forehead after what she'd just witnessed. "K-Kodachi...I don't know why I'm surprised. Really, I should've known..."

Ringo, meanwhile, had a blank look on her face as she tried to process what had just transpired. Her train of thought was broken, however, when the referee for the match hopped out of the ring to confront her.

"Hey, you! If you ever trip me like that again, I'll disqualify Kodachi on the spot! You hear me?" the referee scowled at her.

Before Ringo could answer, the winner of the match quickly jumped down next to her to intervene.

"You have my apologies for the actions of my second. It was an innocent mistake," Kodachi told the referee. "I will personally see to it that she never does it again. Come along now, Ringo."

"Huh? Wait a minute-!" Ringo complained as Kodachi grabbed hold of her arm and yanked her forward.

Dodging the projectiles from the crowd with that satisfied look on her face, Kodachi pulled her second along with her to the safety of the dressing room area.

"Unbelievable..." the referee groaned.

Unfortunately for the official, she didn't notice an enraged Mizuki McLoughlin stalking her from behind. Beyond angry at how her match had turned out, the girl with braided hair spun the referee around and slapped her across the cheek, knocking her to the floor. With some of her fans urging her on, Mizuki then grabbed the stunned official by the collar of her shirt and threw her about ten rows deep into the audience to a loud ovation. She would have some punishment coming for her actions, but for now she and her fans felt like they'd gained at least a bit of redemption after being screwed over.

Back in the dressing area, Kodachi was still overflowing with elation at the match outcome.

"That worked perfectly!" the giddy gymnast celebrated. "One match finished, one to go..."

Suddenly coming to a stop, Ringo Saotome yanked her arm away from Kodachi and shot her a fiery glare.

"What is with that nasty look?" Kodachi asked.

"Did you just use me to help you cheat?" Ringo fumed.

"Cheat is such an awful word. I prefer to say that you helped me gain an advantage," Kodachi smiled back at her. "It was that Mizuki girl's own fault for looking away while the match was still going on. She has only herself to blame."

Feeling more frustrated than she ever had before, Ringo was literally shaking with anger.

"All that time helping you train...those morning jogs we did...even making me miss work...but you haven't changed at all!" the red-haired girl cried.


"W-what?" Kodachi shrieked.

Fed up with the behavior of the Black Rose, Ringo turned around and stormed away in the direction of the exit, leaving behind a very torn Kodachi Kuno.

"You cannot just quit! Hey! Do you expect me to carry all of the tools home by myself?" Kodachi shouted, but to no avail.

The young redhead she once despised, the one that had agreed to help her, had left her side.

"F-fine! I do not need you! I can find a better second!"

Acting as though she didn't care, Kodachi began heading back to her dressing room to get changed. She looked back over her shoulder one last time to see if her second had changed her mind, but there was no one there.


Kodachi got herself dressed and, with great annoyance, took the two gym bags full of her tools that the EGF officials had brought back to her dressing room and strapped one of them over each of her shoulders. It wasn't a great deal of trouble given that she'd hardly exerted herself at all during her match, but it was hardly something that a proud Kuno should be forced to do, she thought to herself.

She had every intention of heading straight for the exit and taking the long train rides back to the Nerima Ward, but the growing sound of the crowd going absolutely crazy by the ring area drew her interest.

"Those barbarians who threw garbage at me certainly are noisy..." she grumbled.

Her curiosity getting the better of her, Kodachi walked over to one of the entrances leading toward the ring and peeked out to see what was happening. As it turned out, the third match of the day was about to begin. The featured participant in the match was the 3rd Seed, Sakura "Heavy Metal" Okazaki, and her fans, who easily made up the largest section of the audience, were being extremely vocal for their favorite gymnast.


The Black Rose of St. Hebereke looked over her shoulder as she heard someone slowly clapping behind her.

"Bravo, Kodachi. You won your match as only you could, and you won it the only way you could."

"Kiriko..." Kodachi hissed.

Decked out in her extravagant outfit made up of dark sunglasses, a white fur coat, and a matching feather boa wrapped around her neck, Kiriko Nakajima walked up next to the dark-haired gymnast and gazed out toward the ring.

"You completely turned the fans against you," Kiriko said.

"Who they cheer is no concern of mine," Kodachi told her. "I advanced to the next round. Nothing else matters."

"For now," Kiriko added, brushing aside her brown bangs.

Kodachi gave her rival another sour look. "You should worry about your own match, you harlot."

"Hah! It's just a formality," Kiriko laughed, showing her cockiness. "I'll make it to the finals and get my shot at the championship. You, though...you won't last through next weekend..."

With a confident smirk on her face, Kiriko raised her arm and pointed out toward the ring.

"...because you have no chance in hell of getting past her..."

Hearing a loud gasp from the crowd, Kodachi looked back at the ring area just in time to see the 14th Seeded gymnast flying so far through the air that she had to be caught by some audience members out in the 18th row of seats. The bell rang soon after and Sakura's hand was raised in victory, garnering a roar of applause from her passionate fans.

"Such a show-off..." Kiriko shook her head, starting to walk back toward the dressing rooms. "And don't forget, Kodachi, next weekend's quarterfinal matches won't be happening here. They all happen at the higher seed's place of choosing. That means you're going to be walking into enemy territory, surrounded by Sakura's rabid fan base."

"...have fun," she laughed.

"I will win!"

Kiriko stopped for a moment, lowering her sunglasses as she looked back at her nemesis.

"No one shall defeat this Black Rose until I have the chance to bring you down," Kodachi glared at her furiously.

Her eye twitching with irritation, Kiriko scoffed at the remark and put her sunglasses on again, turning her back to Kodachi as she walked off.

"You'll be crushed along with that baseless confidence of yours..."

Finally on her way back to the Odaiba train terminal, Kodachi was growing more annoyed with every step she took as thoughts of Ringo leaving continued to swirl around in her mind.

"That Ringo! How dare she quit and leave me like this!" she fumed, seriously considering taking the bags with her gymnastics tools and throwing them away to make her journey easier.

Kodachi didn't bother sticking around to watch the final match of the day since seeing Kiriko win, which was the likely outcome, would have only put her in a worse mood.

With the sound of a motor coming within hearing distance behind her, the young Kuno stomped onward through the summer heat.

"If that red-haired traitor thinks she can do this to me without consequences, she is very wrong!" Kodachi continued to vent as the sound of the motor got closer. "When I get home, I am finding her and giving her a tongue-lashing she will never forget!"

The increasingly loud rumbling of the motor getting to her, Kodachi spun around, unable to put up with it anymore.

"I demand you cease with that awful noise!"

As it so happened, that "awful noise" was the roar of a motorcycle, and it was speeding straight ahead with Kodachi directly in its path. Realizing that she was in danger, the dark-haired gymnast nimbly jumped out of harm's way as the motorcycle sped by, but the bags full of tools she was carrying left her off-balance and she ended up falling flat on her behind.

"Ouch!" Kodachi whined, glaring angrily at the motorcycle. "How dare you?"

As though they'd heard her, the motorcycle suddenly skidded to a halt and turned around, the rider's long, pink hair flapping in the wind as the bike closed in on Kodachi. They didn't seem like they wanted to run her over this time, though. Instead, they approached slowly and came to a stop a few feet in front of her.

Turning off the motorcycle's engine, the rider, wearing a black leather jacket with a graphic of a demon on the back and matching leather pants, leaned over the handlebars of the bike and flipped up the visor on their helmet to get a better look at her.

"Hey..." a female voice greeted her.

After getting a good look at the rider, Kodachi easily recognized her as someone she'd seen earlier in the day.

"Sakura Okazaki!" she snarled. "Trying to cause me injury before our match, are you?"

The gymnast given the nickname "Heavy Metal" chuckled a bit at the accusation.

"Sounds more like something you'd do," she retorted. "No, I just wanted to meet you once. Get to know ya a little."

Kodachi wasn't amused by Sakura's answer.

"And what makes you think I wish to get acquainted with a brute like you?" she snorted.

"Well aren't you a little ray of sunshine," Sakura poked fun at Kodachi's attitude. "Y'know, I gotta admit, I was laughin' my ass off at that stunt you pulled on Mizuki today. You sure got the crowd pissed, but that was funny stuff!"

"I was not trying to amuse you. I was simply trying to win," Kodachi eagerly pointed out.

Sakura let out a disappointed sigh as she rested her chin on her hands. "That's all any of 'em ever think about. Win, win, win."

"Are you implying there is something else of value to gain?" Kodachi questioned her.

"Maybe not for someone like you," the pink-haired gymnast replied coldly. "Me, I don't care if I never have that championship belt around my waist. I just want competition."

"Competition?" Kodachi gave her an odd look.

"Right! A good match, new challenges, the feeling of hitting and being hit, that kinda stuff!" Sakura grinned, the excitement evident in her expression. "Isn't that the best?"

Shaking her head, Kodachi finally stood up and began brushing herself off. "I do not share in your barbaric joys. I have only one goal..."

"Kiriko, right?" Sakura correctly guessed. "I don't like the little slut either, but I can tell how much you hate her. You really got everyone talkin' when you slapped her silly at qualifying! That was nice!"

"Must I repeat myself?" the irritated Kuno sibling asked, not much appreciating the pink-haired girl's compliments.

"Oh, right, right. It wasn't for my amusement," Sakura mocked her. "That's fine. I guess I'll see ya in a week then, Black Rose. Since I get to pick, we're gonna have the match on my turf, Joudai High. You can bring your fans if you have any, but I don't think you'll notice 'em with mine as rowdy as they are!"

For the moment, Kodachi didn't seem very intimidated by the scenario.

"You should be more concerned with me than whose fans are watching," she told her.

"Oh?" Sakura replied, amused. "Then let me say one thing before I go..."

There were very few things in the world that put fear into Kodachi Kuno, but the look filled with absolute bloodlust that suddenly came over the wild, pink-haired girl was enough to send a chill up her spine.

"I want a fight! I wanna see that canvas covered in blood, sweat, and tears when our match is over!" Sakura said, a dark smile crossing her face.

"And if you try to pull the same kind of garbage on me as you did with Mizuki...I'll make you wish you hadn't."

End of Chapter 5