Queens, New York
It took them a subway ride and two buses to reach their destination, and even then they had to walk another thirty minutes. By the time they reached the industrial area known as Willets point, the heavy traffic had dissipated. The streets were pretty empty as many buildings were either closed for the weekend or completely abandoned. A few cars would drive by, trucks of all different sizes and a lot of hot rods and motorbikes. There was the odd person standing at a street light, glaring at the group of teenagers as they walked past. Avis felt they had crossed over onto the wrong side of the tracks. Gabby and Zoe seemed to cling more tightly to their boyfriends, and she could hear Nick whisper some angry profanity to Victor behind her. She, on the other hand, didn’t feel frightened by their surroundings, maybe on edge, as one should be, but her confidence in herself outweighed any danger they may come across.
“K, maybe this wasn’t a great idea.” Zoe said as the approached a the warehouse. It was the only building with all it’s lights on, there were vehicles parked up and down the streets with a group of people gathered outside. The large iron hanger doors were open only a width of a man as a pair of bouncers stood outside, keeping crowd control.
“You didn’t say anything about bouncers.” Tom hissed back to Victor as they got in line. “What if they kick us out for being underage?”
“It’s a fight, not a rave.” Victor said, though Avis thought he saw him flinch a little. It was clear that their group stood out from the others around them. Well dressed, well clothed, with no sign or logo to mark them with a particular gang or group the would be easy pickings from anyone who wanted to steal or pick a fight.
“Just stay calm.” Avis said, to her surprise. The others gave her a nasty look. “If you panic, they’ll just have more reason to refuse us entry. Act… act like you belong.” They reached the doors, and Avis was pushed forward. The bouncer stepped out in front of them. He was over six feet tall, dark skin with a light grey tattoo that covered his neck and went down his right arm. It was an unusual design, that looked like some script that she had never seen before. Given her mother worked for several museums, and she had lived over the world, not being able to recognized it unnerved something inside of her.
“Beat it, this isn’t for kids.” The bouncer said, a puff of cigarette smoke blew out of his nose.
“What’s the cover fee, twenty?” Victor asked, digging into his pocket for his wallet the others did the same. “We’re just here to watch, c’mon let us in.”
“No underaged kids allowed.” The bouncer said.
“Underage my ass, that kid doesn’t look a day over sixteen.” Gabby shouted pointing to some scrawny toothpick, scrawny kid inside.
“He’s an exception. He’s here to fight.” The Bouncer said.
“And so am I.” Avis threw in. If a kid like that could fight, she didn’t have to worry about meeting some age restriction. “I’ve even got the registration fee in my bag.”
“Ah, nice try girl. That kid you pointed too, was asked to fight, he’s got a rep around here. You think we’ll just let some wanna-be school-girl in?” The bouncer laughed. “Now, I’ll say it once more beat-“
The Bouncer stumbled on his words, his eyes turned back on Avis, they were a golden brown, and didn’t leave her face for a full three minutes. “What did you say?”
“Valentine.” Avis repeated. “He said to use his name to get in.” That was only an assumption, for all she knew Valentine was some password, not the guy’s name. The bouncer leaned back and pressed a finger to his ear, calling someone important it seemed.
“Boss, there’s this chick…”
“Rision.” Avis said, making sure her voice was loud enough to be heard on the other end. The Bouncer gave her a dirty look before continuing.
“She wants to fight, told me you’d let her in…. Uh huh…. Yeah… fine.” The Bouncer sighed and looked at the group of teenagers one more time. “You can go in.” He stepped aside reluctantly a scowl on his face. The group scurried in, not waiting for someone to change their minds.
“That was so close.” Rory said with a sigh of relief.
“I thought I was going to shit my pants.” Tom added.
“Thanks…” Victor said under his breath as he passed Avis to catch up with the others.
“Rision?” Nick asked, falling in step beside Avis.
“It’s… my mother’s maiden name.” Avis said, with a shrug of her shoulders. “It sort of just came out. I don’t want to drag my dad’s name into this, there’s a lot of shady people here already…”
“Gottcha… that’s an unusual name.”
“Yeah… my mom was an unusual person.”
It was a hundred-dollar registration fee to compete, Avis had managed to crack the safe in the penthouse and get just enough cash that would cover the event. The idea behind it all that if she won, or at least won some bets, she’d be able to replace it before Malcolm found out. The woman at the registration booth looked skeptically at her upon handing the money over and giving her name for the upcoming fights. She had repeat Valentine’s name again before they took her seriously.
With that step completed, Avis was ready to check out the competition, and the ring. During this time, Nick kept trailing her like a lost puppy, while the others began to wander the wear-house. She was glad to be separated off from the others, they weren’t all bad, but their attitude towards her hadn’t changed since they first met. She actually hoped Nick would join them.
“Nick… has there been a lot of these fights before?” Avis asked, moving close to the ring, which looked like any other boxing or wrestling ring. It was raised off the ground a few feet, enough for everyone to watch. But instead of ropes, or padded corner posts, there was barbed wire and what appeared to be broken off I-beams. Avis quickly realized that this wasn’t some friendly sparring match, this wasn’t much of a game either. One false move, or a throw back would cause serious damage to the body. Avis shuddered at how it might feel to be thrown back into the barbed wire.
“God, who knows. This is the first time Victor ever talked about it.” Nick said with a shrug. “Are you sure you wanna do this?”
“No… not really.” Avis replied back honestly. Would she be able to hold her own without giving away her tel-tale signs? She hoped the basic martial arts moves will be enough against her opponents, a little added power punch here and there may be alright, but she would have to watch it with the jumping and energy balls. Avis looked up to the ceiling, there were a number of lights hanging down from the rafters on their own jig, but there was also a second floor. All around the perimeter of the building was a wide iron walkway with jet outs of offices that were redesigned for VIP seating. Up there, the people looked professional, in suits and had more luxurious seating arrangements then the wooden bleachers and standing room available to the common people.
“Scared?” Nick asked, pushing up his glasses.
“No. There’s a lot of strong people here, I’ve never seen so many fighters gather like this. I mean it’s just like those Street Fighter movies huh?” Avis said with a grin. “I’m excited to see how I can measure up to them.”
“But… The metal… you could die… maybe this wasn’t a good idea. We can still take your name off, and just watch.”
“I’ve already told the bouncer guy I’m fighting, I’m not going to back down now. Nick, why don’t you go find your friends. I am going to see this through, if you don’t like it, leave.” Avis didn’t want someone nagging over her shoulder, second guessing her decision and distracting her as she mentally prepared for what was to come. She heard Nick give a sigh and walk away. It was better this way, Avis thought, turning her head just enough to see him disappear into the crowd.
Valentine… why did that name sound familiar? Avis didn’t think about it at first, only that it was a password to get them all in. But that guy from her father’s lab, what did he have to do with all of this? She wondered if he was above her now, on one of those leather couches, looking down on the fight ring, or maybe he was participating himself? Avis made a mental note to watch out for the guy, there were questions that she wanted answers for.