XXII. Fire Starter

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Lena eventually returned to her dugout by the end of the twenty minute break, a freshly obtained water bottle in hand.

"Hey," Aria greeted her, "You okay?"
Lena paused before answering.
"Yeah," came a simple reply.
"Okay," Aria smiled.
"You got back just in time, Lena," Luke said excitedly, "They're about to announce the first battle!"

Ondine Conners returned to the microphone, and outstretched her arms.
"Now, for the first battle of today!" she announced, "Randomly chosen, our two opponents are... stone Gifted Anna Cavall... and fire Gifted Raina Fray!"
Raina looked up from where she sat, surprised.
"Go on, Raina!" Kai said excitedly, "Show her what you got!"
Raina stood up and stretched, then weaved her way through her brothers and friends and stepped out onto the sand.

As she did, she noticed the girl that was to be her opponent was the same girl that threw a boulder at her at the party a few months back.
"Huh," Raina huffed, "It's her."
"Who?" Dai asked.
"The bitch that threw a rock at me," she said, and cricked her neck, "This'll be fun."

She then went out onto the sand, the others watching her with interest.
The two opponents stood in the center, and faced each other. Judging by the look she was giving her, Raina assumed that Anna remembered her, too.
"You have twenty minutes," Conners announced, "Begin!"

Neither girl made an immediate move, they just glared each other down.
Raina slightly raised her arm, pink flames trickling on her fingers.
Anna took this as her cue and immediately raised a rock wall, and proceeded to kick it towards Raina.

Raina balled her fist, and made it absolutely burst into flames. She raised it back, and thrusted it forward as the wall came into range.
She punched straight through it, it shattering on impact. Bits and pieces of it scattered around her, as she stood still with her flaming fist extended.

Anna's eyes widened, shocked, as were Raina's friends.
"Did... she just punch through that wall?" Jace asked in disbelief.
"Mhm," Kai nodded knowingly, "She's quite the heavy hitter."
Raina then used fire on her feet to propel herself forward, slamming into Anna.

She slammed the girl to the far end of the arena, tumbling across the sand before stopping tight before the tower where the Council sat.
Anna got up on all fours, gasping, for she had the wind knocked out of her.
She didn't have long to recover, however, for she looked up to see Raina, flying down towards her at a great speed.
She barrel rolled out of the way, but was still too close to where Raina slammed into the spot she was in, the force of which knocked Anna onto her back.

Raina had stuck a superhero landing, the sand around her burning in bright pink fire. She looked at Anna with a fury in her eyes.
Anna looked back at her, intimidated.
Raina then stood up, igniting her fists in flames, and began to step towards the fallen girl.
Anna began to scoot herself backwards, trying to greaten the distance between herself and the fire Gifted.

She then had a thought come to her, and she made a relatively small boulder in her palm. She threw it at Raina, only for the fire Gifted to throw a fireball.
The fireball and the boulder collided, the force of the fireball exploding on impact causing the boulder to be thrown off course, and it fell to the ground off to the side.

Anna kept throwing boulders from where she sat on the ground, only for Raina to dodge or knock them to the side, seemingly with no effort.
Seeing that this was getting her nowhere, Anna raised her arms, and rock walls formed all around Raina, trapping her.
She then created a roof on top of the newly made prison, and kept her arms extended to keep feeding it energy, so that it would stay up, no matter how much resistance Raina gave.

Silence fell, for nothing else happened. The audience watched with baited breath. Ondine Conners looked at her colleagues on the Council, wondering if she should start the countdown or not.
Feu Fray, the fire Symbol, watched with great with anticipation.

A moment later, Anna began to stumble. Keeping this thing up and strong was expending her own bodily energy, and she was growing tired.
At last, she dropped to her knees, worn out. The prison stood still, and didn't fall, until there was a burst from the roof of it.
Raina soared out of the roof, and flew around to where to Anna was, hovering over her.

Anna just looked up at her, before collapsing onto the ground.
Conners led the count to seven, and once it was done, Raina was declared the winner, with the crowd cheering.
Her siblings and friends cheered as well, singing her praises.

Hunter and Janice watched from the dugout they shared, unimpressed looks on their faces.
"She really waited for her to get tired before busting out of that thing," Hunter grumbled.
"Show off," Janice commented.
Hunter looked at her closely, before looking back out at the arena.
"I'm sorry about Jace, by the way," he said, "I don't think I ever said."
"Thanks," Janice sighed, "It... hurts."
Hunter looked at her again.
"Y'know, I could talk to him if you want," he said.
Janice looked back at him, surprised.
"What? But, haven't you guys stopped talking?" she asked.
"For a while, yeah," Hunter said, "Not like anything happened between us, we just kinda drifted. I can approach him about this."
Janice paused, considering.

"Please do," she said finally.
Hunter smiled slyly, "Sure thing."

Meanwhile, Raina was with her friends in their dugout, all were congratulating her.
"That was crazy!!" Aria cheered, "You just... punched through that wall like it was nothing!"
She began to mimic it as Raina chuckled.
"It wasn't nothing," she said, "My knuckles started hurting after I did that, but it was cool, right?"
"Really cool!" Luke agreed.

As they excitedly discussed Raina's fight, Jace went over and stood next to Lena.
"Some fight, huh?" he asked.
"Mmm," Lena nodded.
"Uh... can I ask you something?" he asked.
Lena looked at him with a puzzled look.
"Would you like to, uh... train... with me later today?" he asked, "You know... just us."
Lena was surprised, and she blushed slightly.
"Sure," she said.
Jace smiled, "Uh... great!"
Lena looked at the ground, blushing, as Conners came on over the microphone again.

"Our next and final battle," she announced, "Will be between... stone Gifted Yang Arkadas and lightning Gifted Rick Henderson!"

The two Gifted made their way out onto the arena, Jace looked to Lena.
"Or... we could go right now...? I-If you want," he stuttered.
Lena giggled a little, with adoration, "Sure."
She turned to Aria, "Jace and I are gonna go practice."
"Alright!" Aria smiled, "See you back at the dorm?"
"да," Lena nodded, and she and Jace headed out of the dugout.

"Uh... what does да mean?" Jace asked.
"Yes," Lena replied.
Jace looked even more confused, "Yes... what?"
Lena then snorted, trying to hold back laughter.

Hunter watched them go, glaring, and he stood up, and exited his dugout, intent on following them.

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