Chapter 2: Kennedy Gets a Beatdown

Sofia felt a sense of dread as she took in her room. While it was a decent size the majority of the free space was taken up by ten bunk beds. Since she just had two brothers at home she was definitely not used to sharing space and was happy that she'd only be here for two months before college began. Being that they were in a castle she wasn't terribly surprised to see the walls covered in tapestries that ranged in shades of red and blue. The floor was covered by a scarlet rug and there were five sets of wide closets and four dressers. Now, Sofia was not a fan of math but something told her that amount of space was not enough to hold clothes for twenty girls.

Pulling her suitcase to a stop in front of an empty bed, she plopped down on the mattress. Not bad. She had expected some hell hole type thing with springs popping into her back but it was surprising comfortable. She was still hella tired from the plane ride and had several hours before dinner so she thought this would be a perfect time for a nap.

Unfortunately, her nap didn't last as long as she would have liked because she soon woke up to a very annoying tapping on her shoulder. Blearily she opened her eyes and saw a girl with a healthy tan, brilliant white teeth, and waist length blond hair that fell in loose waves.

"Oh, finally! I've been tapping your arm simply forever," she said in an exasperated tone. Her accent was easy to place; she was definitely from the Deep South.

"Yeah, about that. Why the hell did you wake me up?" The girl seemed stunned by her tone but quite frankly Sofia was not the kind of girl you woke up from a nap.

"Why, because you're in my bed of course!" The girl made it seem like this was the silliest question in the world.

"Uh huh." Sofia sat up in the bed and appraised the girl. She was tall, about 5'9, carried a Coach bag (not that Sofia knew rich-girl purses like that but it was plaid and looked expensive), designer jeans that clung to his legs, and a lacy tank that looked like it was worth a fortune. To top it all off, she had on very high heels. "Well, I don't really see your name on it."

"Maybe not, but I was here first. Besides, I absolutely abhor sleeping on the top bunk," she said in a miffed tone.

Sofia was tempted to throw out a 'yes, your majesty,' but she bit her tongue. Her mama would have been proud. But Sofia figured that if she started something with another girl within her first hour then she could get in trouble. And she definitely needed that scholarship that Mr. Giles had arranged for her to attend Oxford. "Whatever," she said as she stood up. She began to climb onto the bunk above in order to continue her nap before she would be unable to control her crankiness.

"Oh," the southern girl said disdainfully. "Are you going to take that bed?" The way she said 'that' was in the snobbiest voice that Sofia had heard in some time.

"Yeah, what about it? Do you see any other empty beds? Cause I sure don't." Sofia didn't bother to keep the edge out of her voice.

"Well, maybe you could switch with Vi since she's bunking with Caridad. That might be more comfortable for y'all." Halfway up the ladder, Sofia stared down at the girl and noticed how she avoided making eye contact. A part of her brain told her to just let it go, but she was not liking this girl's attitude.

"What's your name?"

"My name is Laurell Anne Moore. What's yours?"

"Sofia Isabella Ramirez. Now, why do you think I should bunk with Caridad?"

Laurell squirmed a little bit and shrugged. "I thought you might wanna be with your own people."

"My own people? Girl-" Sofia's inner bitch was cut off by the door opening and another two girls walking in.

"Hey there!" said the first one and she went to a bed and pulled out a hair tie. She brushed her thick, long black hair into a ponytail. She wore loose linen pants and a long blue tunic. Sofia surmised that she was somewhere from the India-Pakistan region. "I'm Sita from India, although I went to boarding school in England, and this is Heather. She's from Germany and doesn't speak a lick of English."

Heather waved and smiled. Curvier than the rest of the girls in the room, she had very pale skin and light blond hair that barely reached her shoulders. Crystal blue eyes shined with friendliness and she was dressed simply in a jean skirt and a pink tank top.

"Hey there, I'm Sofia from Ohio in the States."

"Hi there," Laurell drawled. "My name's Laurell Moore and I'm from Georgia in the great United States of America."

"Wonderful to meet you both." Sita jerked a thumb in the direction of the door. "Anyways, we're just grabbing a couple things before we go back to watch a sparring match before dinner. Want to come with?"

Sofia eyes lit up. "Sparring? Sweet. I'll definitely come."

Laurell raised an eyebrow. "Ah, I've got some things to work on. Y'all have fun," she called.

As soon as they were out the door Sofia muttered, "Good."

"Good what?" asked Sita.

"Nothing," Sofia said with a smile. Her mama always did say that if you couldn't say anything nice about a person you should say nothing at all… Not that she usually followed that advice though. "So, Sita, did you just get here too?"

"Not quite. Been here for about two weeks and I was one of the first slayers here. Since I attend a school in London I'm real close by."

"You like it here?"

She shrugged. "Yeah, it's not bad. I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything. I met Willow about a month ago and it feels strange having super powers." Sita smiled brightly. "But I do enjoy not needing help to open a pickle jar anymore."

Both girls laughed and Heather just grinned, knowing that some type of joke had been made.

"So what's the scoop on this joint, anyways?"

"Well, girls have been arriving the last two weeks but today is the final big time move in day. Tonight at dinner is our first official event together. I've been talking to Vi a lot, she's real cool, not to mention she's horrible at keeping secrets so we get to learn everything; and things are like this: By the end of today there will be around two-hundred slayers stationed here, and of course more will come as the witches find them. The slayers from the Sunnydale battle are separated into different rooms and are kinda like our 'Resident Advisors', like they have at colleges. Since they're more experienced their job is to mentor us, keep order, and all that jazz. Everyday we have a schedule that starts at 7am and ends at 6pm that involves lots of PE and classroom time."

"Classroom time?" Sofia whined. "But I just graduated from high school! I'm soooo done with that."

"Well then you're pretty lucky. I'm still in secondary."

Sofia gave the Indian girl a longer look, trying to properly judge her age. "How old are you?"

"Fifteen. I'm entering my tenth year at prep school."

"Daaaang, you are young!"

"Didn't you know that most girls get called beginning at the age of fifteen? The majority of us are fifteen and sixteen, with a smattering of girls ages seventeen to nineteen. How old are you?"

"Seventeen. I'll be eighteen in a few weeks."

"Cool! We'll have to do something. Oh, look! Here we are." Sita stopped at the doors of a huge gymnasium that was already teaming with slayers.

Rona eyed the huge crowd that the word-of-mouth sparring match was attracting. In the East wing on the first floor was a huge gymnasium that Faith had converted into the perfect training arena. Bleachers on the one wall seated at least eighty girls who were eager to see their first match. Rona, along with some of the other more experienced slayers, sat in the first row. White tape on a heavy gym mat outlined a large circle that had weapons carts around the outer edges. The weapons ranged from bo staffs to swords to knives and Rona guessed that Faith had probably outfitted the carts with ninja stars too, knowing her.

Since they had started housing girls two weeks ago the schedule had been pretty calm for the newbies. Anybody who was somebody that mattered had tons of things to worry about regarding preparations for the opening of the Academy. Therefore there hadn't been much time to train and spar with the other girls. Faith, always one to eradicate boredom, had decided to host a sparring match before dinner.

Now, she was getting everyone's attention by whistling very loudly with her two fingers. "Yo! I need all you girls to listen up." Immediately everyone shut up as they took in the authoritative slayer who wore her trademark leather pants and, today, a red tank. "Some of you have been here for a while, some are just arriving today. You're all here because you each have a gift. We're here to teach you how to use it. To prepare you I wanted you to see what a sparring match looks like. Well," she grinned, "and because sparring is wicked fun. Some of the slayers from the Sunnydale Battle will be competing today. Pay very close attention to everything they do."

Faith stepped to the outside of the ring and called out the first two partners. "Kennedy! Caridad!" The two slayers stepped out into the ring, weaponless. They bowed and began circling each other. Kennedy, always the impatient one, struck first and Caridad easily blocked it and delivered a stunning side kick. Falling onto her back, Kennedy kicked out with her legs and Caridad fell to the mat. They both jumped up at the same time and their hands became almost too fast to follow. When Caridad grabbed Kennedy from behind, Kennedy grabbed the blond and flipped her out of the ring. Cheers went up from the bleachers as Kennedy reached down and helped Caridad up.

"Just once," Rona whispered to Vi, "I would like to see Kennedy lose. I mean, sisterly love and all that, but man is her ego big."

Vi stifled a laugh with her hand as Faith stepped back into the ring.

"Congratulations to Kennedy, well done to both you and Caridad. Next up: Rona and Vi!"

"Be gentle with me," Rona said as she winked at Vi.

The taller girl blushed. "Please, I know I'll have bruises when you're done with me."

Rona liked Vi a lot, actually everyone liked the sweet girl. Because of that she used to think twice about sparring with her but when Vi is in battle mode she is completely the opposite of her normal character. It was like she turned into an Amazon and radiated confidence and ferocity. Out of all of them Kennedy was easily the best but she thought given time Vi would be able to outmatch them all someday.

They had opted for the bo staffs since they wanted to show the newer slayers some variety. After bowing, Vi went on the offensive. For several minutes they were evenly matched up. Strike, block, strike, block. Then Rona decided to switch up the dance because they were both too close to the edge of the circle. Twirling behind her, Rona hit her in the back of the knee. As Vi fell down on one knee Rona raised her bow to strike her for a hard fall. Instead, Vi smacked her foot roughly with the staff and Rona jumped in surprise. While mid-jump Vi thrust her bo staff into Rona's solar plexus. With an "oomph" the dreadlocked girl landed out of bounds.

Another round of cheers reverberated through the stands as Vi helped Rona up, per their usual training.

"We extend our congratulations to Vi. Nicely done, both Rona and Vi. Now, for the Ultimate Champion title, both Vi and Kennedy will spar."

Rona rolled her eyes. Faith enjoyed drama, hence her often used training phrase of 'Ultimate Champion'.

Now, after bowing, Kennedy and Vi circled each other and traded blows. Both of them were beginning to get very good at kung fu and Rona was pleased to see them use moves like tiger and crane. Silently she willed Vi to win. She wasn't kidding earlier with Vi. She loved Kennedy in that way that you have to love a relative but not always like them; but she was ready for someone to beat her besides Buffy or Faith. With her superior skills, coming from mad money, and dating one of the top people in the organizations, Kennedy was seeming cockier every day. And that is really saying something.

A jump kick threw Vi across the mat and Rona winced, afraid that she may end up out of bounds. But she didn't, luckily. Flipping up, she ran and somersaulted above Kennedy's head. Landing behind her, Vi chopped Kennedy between the shoulder blade and neck. Kennedy grabbed the area in pain and fell. Rona wondered if she fell from the pain, but she was wrong. Kennedy had feigned the extent of the pain and as Vi reached over her Kennedy kicked with both legs out. Vi's mouth opened in shock as she landed outside the circle.

Kennedy smiled brightly and helped her slayer sister up.

"Well done, both of you. Congratulations to Kennedy for being the Ultimate Champion! Unless…" Her lips curved into a smile. "Is anyone brave enough to challenge Kennedy for that honor tonight?"

The crowd was silent and Rona laughed at how intimidated all the girls looked. They definitely did not look to be ready for any type of fighting. Of course, she hadn't been in the beginning either.

Just as Faith was about to speak a girl stood up. "I'll accept the challenge," she said in a lilting accent. It reminded her of a gangster movie; maybe the girl was Italian? Walking confidently down the stairs she pulled her shoulder length brown hair into a low ponytail. She wore loose black dress pants, a silky red blouse, and black boots. Reaching for her ears she pulled out large gold hoops and set them on the bench next to Rona. As she did that, Rona noticed that she had light brown eyes, full lips covered in dark red lipstick, and a beauty mark was on the left side of her cheek.

Faith nodded with approval. "I like someone with a take charge attitude. What's your name and where are you from?"

Standing in the middle of the circle she amplified her voice so everyone could hear her. "Hello everyone, I'm Antonia Romero, but you all can call me Toni, and I'm from Sicily." She smiled charmingly and oozed with self-assuredness.

"Welcome Toni," Faith said in a cheerful voice. Rona could tell that Faith had already taken a liking to the girl. "Alright, Kennedy and Toni, let's get it on!"

"Look at Kennedy," Rona said with a snort. "She looks so shocked that anyone dares to challenge her."

"It'll be interesting to see how long Toni lasts against her. I'm wagering two minutes," Vi whispered.

"Nah. Kennedy's like a cat. She'll want to play with her food first, just to test her out. Five minutes."

Everyone watched with rapt attention as the two slayers circled each other. They were similar in height similarities and muscle tone. Rona was impressed to see that Toni's footwork was very good. Not to mention, it seemed like she had paid attention to the three previous matches because she waited for Kennedy's impatience to force her hand. As usual, it did.

Kennedy struck out with a tiger claw, but amazingly Toni caught her arm and swung the other girl. As Kennedy tried to regain her balance Toni made two successive side kicks and threw in a roundhouse as Kennedy stumbled back. Rona saw Kennedy's face flame up with aggression. Toni kicked again but this time Kennedy caught her leg and yanked the girl to fall on her back Toni rolled to her right before Kennedy could get in a kick and she jumped up. They began trading punches but most of the time they would block each other very well.

"Damn," gasped Vi. "Who'da thought this would last so long? Looks like we both lost, they're timing in at six minutes now.

Rona was captivated at watching them spar; they were both so graceful and powerful in their moves. Eventually Kennedy had the advantage and Toni's feet were right on the thick line. Kennedy jumped up and kicked out with both legs to finish Toni off, but instead Toni ducked under her and pushed the other girl out of the ring with both hands on her back.

This time, the crowd was silent. Rona didn't think anybody believed what had happened; that Kennedy had gotten a beat down by a rookie. Even Faith herself had seemed shocked. After all, Kennedy had been trained by a watcher the majority of her life and the girl had mad skills.

Faith slowly clapped and everyone else joined in. "Well, well, well. That was interesting. Good match, Kennedy and Toni. Toni, congratulations. You are now our Ultimate Champion."

Kennedy grimaced, obviously not appreciating her loss.

"Thank you Faith." Toni seemed quite pleased with herself, judging by her huge grin and gleaming eyes.

Still with a shocked face, Faith blurted out her next words. "Damn girl! How old are you, anyways? Were you one of the girls trained by a watcher?"

"I'm seventeen. No, I was never trained by a watcher. But my father, he wanted his daughter to learn… What's the word? Self-defense." Her accent seemed thicker as she struggled to remember her English words.

"Alright, cool then." Faith turned back to everyone else. "Everybody, you have thirty minutes until we meet in dining hall. Don't be late!"

Dozens of girls began streaming out the door, chattering wildly and sneaking looks at Toni. Vi gave Rona a sidelong glance. "Looks like you got your wish," she said with a grin.

Rona laughed. "True that! But I can't help but wonder who the hell that girl is. That was majorly fierce!"


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