Though the rest of the Castle Knights quickly left to pursue their other duties, the five remaining Battle Brawlers remained in the briefing room, still trying to process what they had seen. They had known Jake had been brainwashed by Kazarina and was now fighting for the Gundalians. Dan had even fought against his corrupted friend. But watching the footage of the double extra-large teen manhandling three Castle Knights with ease, while Coredem brutally tore into their Bakugan, had made the unintended betrayal more real. The friends now sat in the meeting room in silence, some pondering their next move, the rest wondering how it had come to this.
Marucho finally stood, not that made much difference in his height.
"We better get to work on the shield, Ren," he announced, "We can't let Jake and Coredem have free entry into the castle while they are like that."
The Gundalian defector, still disguised as a dark-skinned, white-haired Human, nodded, and followed the shorter genius out of the room.
"Hey, Fabia?" Dan prompted suddenly and unnecessarily loudly, surprising both the named princess, and Shun Kazami, the resident ninja Brawler.
"Yeah Dan, what is it?" she responded curiously after she recovered.
"Well, I started thinkin' about this while we were watching the security video," the Pyrus Brawler seemed suddenly embarrassed, "You are pretty good at martial arts, right? Would you teach me how to fight?"
"Can I ask why?" she asked after considering the request for a few moments.
"Well, watching Jake throw those guys around, made me think about how you did the same thing to me a couple of times..."
She blushed slightly at the recollection of her anger and aggression when she had first arrived in Bakugan Interspace.
"… and if Jake comes after me physically like that, I might need to be able to defend myself. And those Judo-type moves you use might be best for that."
"'Judo'?" Fabia did not recognize the word.
"It is a Japanese martial art, from Earth," Shun entered the conversation quietly, "It means 'the Way of Suppleness'. It is a fighting style that focuses on throws, locks, and generally turning your opponent's physical strength and weight against them."
The disguised Neathian nodded, and her Bakugan hopped up onto her shoulder to look the Human youth in the eye.
"Is that the only reason you wish her Highness to instruct you?" Aranaut queried sternly.
"Well, if I actually learn to fight myself, it might help me become a better Brawler in general," Dan answered, seemingly missing the point of the Haos Bakugan's question.
"But why me?" Fabia tried to clarify.
"Well I talked to Linus about your fighting skills when I first got here, he said that not all the Castle Knight learn martial arts, and not many are as good as you are. So rather than just go around and bother random people, I figured I would ask you."
Then he grinned sheepishly, and added, "Besides, you're one of the Brawlers and a friend, so it's easier to ask you than to ask a bunch of people I barely know."
"Okay, but why not Shun?" Realizing he wouldn't get it, the Neathian princess asked the question directly. "I mean, he is more skilled and experienced than I am."
Dan chuckled, and Fabia glanced at silent Ventus Brawler. The teen ninja was no longer looking at them, and was blushing slightly.
"Yeah, we tried that, when we were fighting the Vexos," Kuso explained, "Shun wanted us all to learn to fight, so we would be stronger. Problem is, he's not the best teacher; he'd skip the basics, and get really annoyed when we couldn't do the moves he did show us. And there's a lot of things he can't teach us because they're 'Kazami family secrets'. Oh snap, I never thought of that..."
"Thought of what, Dan?" Drago prompted, floating beside the Human's head.
"Well, maybe Fabia can't teach me because her fighting style is a royal secret or something. That's why she's tryin' to talk me out of it."
"I'm not trying to talk you out of it," Fabia insisted, "And no, there's nothing special or secret about the my fighting style. I'm just not sure I am the best one to teach you, and I wanted to be sure you had thought this through."
"As much as I ever think anything through," Dan acknowledged his brashness with a huge grin.
"In that case, I'll be happy to whip you into shape," the Haos Brawler teased her friend fondly.
"Hey, I'm in pretty good shape," Kuso protested. Shun started to walk out without saying a word, and Dan noticed something in his friend's frown.
"Hey, Shun, what's up?" the Pyrus inclined Human interrupted Kazami's departure.
"I was just thinking about what Linus said in the meeting, about the Gundalians starting to understand how the Brawlers battle. And now with Jake on their side, they'll also know everything about us that he knows, too."
"Yeah? What about it?" Dan shrugged, "That just means we have to fight harder and come up with some new tricks, right?"
"If it were that easy, the Neathians wouldn't have needed our help in the first place," the ninja snapped back. Then he calmed himself and continued, "But you are right about needing something the Gundalians and Jake haven't seen before. This talk about you learning how to fight gave me an idea, so I'm going to take a quick trip back to Earth, and see if I can get a new secret weapon."
"What, like some super Kazami style finishing move?" Dan could not keep the excitement from his voice. Fabia smiled in both amusement and hope.
"Something like that," Shun raised one hand in parting, and then disappeared from the meeting room.
"And as for you," Fabia said in her best princess voice, "Unless we are under attack, I want you to meet me in gymnasium number three at 9:30 tomorrow morning."
"Sure thing, Fabia-sensei."
She grinned sharply at him, and then shoved him towards the door.
Though the built in clock on Dan's Bakumeter only read 9:18 when he reached the gym, Fabia and Aranaut were already there waiting for him. She glanced over as soon as the door opened, and smiled nervously at him as he entered. She was standing near the back of the room. The gym was slightly smaller than a basketball court, and had a padded floor and walls. On the side opposite the door, a bench jutted out from the wall. The Haos knight Bakugan stood on said bench, next to a duffel bag.
"Please lock the door behind you," she requested softly.
"Sure, but why?" he asked, even as he complied. In answer, she removed her Bakumeter, and the instant the device left her wrist, her Human guise vanished, leaving her original Neathian form visible. She placed it on the bench next to her Bakugan.
"I get it," he nodded, setting Drago next to Aranaut and reaching for his Bakumeter. Then his eyes widened as she undid the fasteners on her uniform and began to remove it.
"Uh, Fabia? What are you doing?"
"The hard points in our uniforms protect us from injuries in battle, but make it harder to move and more likely you'll hurt me on accident when we're training. The same reason we can't wear our Bakumeters. So until I say you're ready, we train in soft, light clothing."
She removed her top and he calmed briefly when he realized she was already wearing a sports bra underneath. The garment was made of black spandex, or the Neathian equivalent. As she stepped out of her reinforced trousers, he saw shorts of the same material. Then he began to blush again
The curvature of Fabia's bust was larger than her normal attire indicated, and her workout attire accentuated it perfectly. The muscles in her arms and legs were no larger than her Human guise indicated, but they were slightly more defined, as was her taut stomach. She had no navel, which surprised the Human slightly. He didn't realize he was staring until she glared at him in mock anger.
"Though I can't say I'm not at least a little happy that the sight of me has rendered the great Dan Kuso speechless," she needled him, but there was also a hint of genuine embarrassment in her voice, "if you just wanted to ogle me, you should have just suggested we go to the pool. We're here to train right?"
"It's not that," he forced himself to look away, before adding under his breath, "Or at least it's not just that."
"I was just thinking, I don't really have any cloths to exercise in," he continued, "But if you'll give me a minute, I can go back and change into a t-shirt and jeans."
"You don't need to do that," she smirked, opening her tote. She took a grey tank top and shorts, and tossed them to him. Unlike her clothing these were made of a looser, cotton-like fabric.
"I have to field all the complaints from the laundry staff about you interrupting their work to clean your shirts and socks every other day..."
"I can't help it," he interjected, "My stuff really stinks after a couple days' worth of morning jogs. And I didn't bring enough extra outfits. Besides, at least I do my own laundry, now that I understand how the machines here work."
"But that's their job," she told him, "And to them it's an insult; they think you think they don't do a good enough job."
"No way," he protested, "My folks just always told me not to be a burden."
"Either way, I figured you didn't have the right cloths to train, so I requisitioned a half-dozen sets." She lifted the bag so he could see the other pairs of shirts and shorts.
"Now hurry up and get changed," she instructed, "we don't have all day."
"Would you at least turn around?" he blushed furiously, and realizing her faux pas, the princess's cheeks turned a deep shade of lavender as she quickly pivoted to look away. She heard him turn his back to her, too, and listened to the sounds of his uniform being hastily removed.
"Okay, I'm ready," he said a few seconds later, and Fabia faced him again.
"Good," she appraised him briefly, and told herself it was strictly to gauge his physique as a fighter. There was plenty of muscle on him, but not so much as to be bulky.
"Okay, I guess the first thing is to put you through your paces and see if you've got the physicality to handle the training.
"Like I said before, Drago and I run every morning," he protested mildly.
"So your stamina is probably fine," she agreed, "But that doesn't mean you have the strength or flexibility to pull off the techniques. That's what we're going to find out..."
Author's Note: I am posting three new projects today, and after two weeks, whichever one proves the most popular, I will continue.
Author's Note 2: This story did not win, so I will not be continuing it until at least one of the two I am working on is finished.