"Haah... and you dare call yourself human?" I let out a breath as I lay sprawled on the grassy ground, looking up at my teacher, who, I might add, put me there with an over-shoulder throw like I was some toddler.
"Coming from you, kid? That's rich," Richard replied as he stood over me, arms crossed and a leisure expression on his face. "In only one week, You've already become more physically powerful than I am, even if by a little," he dismissively added, shaking his head, causing me to sigh as I turned to my character screen.
Class: [Thief (level 10 MAX)] [Fighter (level 4)]
Stat Points: 34
[Brawling (level 6)]
[Crime (level 25)]
He wasn't kidding. I physically overpowered him, and was faster and packed a meaner punch than him, but it meant nothing since I couldn't land a single blow on the man.
It had been a week since Richard taught me the reverse breathing technique, and practicing the damned thing had been a bitch and a half, and I'd always go home feeling like my lungs were splitting in half.
But the results spoke for themselves, as the extra strain using the technique while training put on my body helped to temper it, hence the two points of improvement in my body attribute.
It took me four days to get used to the breathing technique, and that's when Richard started teaching me actual martial arts and sparring with me for the rest of the week.
And let me tell you, the man was a bona fide monster, capable of taking everything I threw at him and giving it back threefold with a minimum effort and sometimes none at all, depending on how badly I blundered.
The training had left me with zero energy every day, so I had no time to visit the library or go on my usual pickpocket frenzies. Luckily I didn't need to since gangsters tended to carry an abundance of cash to avoid creating paper trails for Batman and the GCPD to follow.
I had looted $678 from the cartel thugs combined, and I won't be short on money in the near future.
"That's enough for today. Go home and rest," Richard said as he turned away from me. "There's gonna be a practical test tomorrow, so be ready," he added, waving me off with a gesture.
"You want to make me fight more thugs, don't you?" I asked, bitterly smiling as I stood up, to which Richard merely chuckled without elaborating, leaving me no choice but to go without an answer.
Richard slightly smiled, crossing his arms as he watched Gray slowly walk away, heading home while holding his sore muscles that were likely hurting like hell after a full day of breathing exercises and sparring.
In truth, the reverse breathing technique was more advanced than Richard hinted to Gray. He wanted to test his new student, and the results didn't disappoint. Not at all.
Not only did his student adapt to the breathing technique quickly, but his body quickly improved thanks to the added pressure, shocking and astounding him at the same time during the past week.
"I'll still make a warrior out of him yet..."
Still, now was not the time to think about his student's excellent performance. He had a guest to attend to, after all.
Richard waited a couple of minutes after Gray disappeared from his sight and turned to a lone tree a fair distance away.
"You can come out. I know you're there," Richard remarked, crossing his arms as Lady Shiva calmly revealed herself. She stepped from behind the tree and walked towards him.
"So that is why you refused to train my daughter? You have a protégé of your own?" Lady shive asked as she stood in front of Richard and turned to stare in the direction said protégé took to leave.
"I do have a student now. But that's not why I refused to train your daughter, Sandra," Richard firmly replied, shaking his head. "I have no interest in sharpening the league's tool," he added, dismissively waving his hand.
"I train martial artists and warriors, not weapons. I believe I already told you as much when your first came," Richard concluded.
"But can you not see that a weapon is much more than a mere warrior could ever aspire to be?" Lady Shiva asked, raising an eyebrow. "Can't you imagine what a human weapon tempered to absolute perfection can achieve?" she asked again, her tone growing more intense with every word she spoke.
"You are set in your ways, Sandra, as am I. There's no point in this debate," Richard replied, sighing and shrugging in annoyance.
"Indeed," Lady shiva said with a chuckle.
"But if debating is pointless, how does a wager sound?"
I couldn't help suspiciously looking around as I walked the streets of East End on my way to my apartment. It was all too quiet. There were no gunshots echoing in the distance, no pimps screaming at the top of their lungs while scolding their prostitutes. I couldn't hear a single crime or shady activity and saw none.
'Am I being too paranoid...?' I mused as I turned a corner and immediately ducked, taking cover as I got my answer in the form of a loud, deafening explosion. My actions were quick since I was prepared. Paranoia and pessimism for the win!
I peeked in the direction of the explosion and saw a man in a tight spandex suit with red lines on the side, casually walking around and flinging buzzing blue arcs of electricity from his gauntlets.
"Come out, come out wherever you are!" the electricity-flinging maniac exclaimed at the top of his lungs, zapping a car in the distance, which immediately exploded.
"Come out and play! BATMAN!" he kept yelling and laughing while zapping everything that moved with his electricity. However, he didn't get to laugh for too long as a black Batarang came flying from behind and hit the back of his head.
He staggered and almost fell but quickly gathered his bearing and turned around, flinging an electric arc at where the Batarang came from and hit his head.
"THERE YOU ARE!" he exclaimed, having exploded another car, and that's all he could say before Batman came swinging with his Batgrapple from behind.
One dropkick to the head later, and the man was down for the count. But before Batman could restrain the electricity flinging maniac, multiple mobsters in Italian suites came out of the surrounding building and started firing their Tommy guns.
Batman ducked, covering himself and the unconscious man with his cape. I watched in astonishment as the bullets bounced right off it.
The caped crusader waited for the mobsters to empty their magazines before taking out his Batgrapple and aiming for a nearby roof, intending to bide his time and take them out one at a time.
But before he could launch the Batgrapple, a massive man, who I immediately recognized as Bane, burst through and shoulder tackled Batman into the nearest wall.
Not even grunting in pain, Batman reached into his utility built, retrieving three spherical black stun pallets, which he threw in Bane's face, causing the latter to grunt in pain and loosen his grip. I couldn't really blame him since even I felt my ears buzz this far away.
Batman quickly rolled away from Bane and fired his Batgrapple into a nearby roof, intending to lure Bane and the mobsters away, and they obliged, quickly chasing behind him.
I sighed in relief as I watched Batman leave in the opposite direction, my eyes unconscious turning to the downed electricity flinging maniac. I felt the kleptomania weeks of pickpocketing people had developed inside me flaring and smacked my dry lips.
I looked around the street, inspecting the destruction and lack of cameras or prying eyes, and after a bit of hesitation, my greed got the better of me.
I walked into an alley and inspected the area to see if no one was watching. I then crouched behind the dumpster and equipped my bullet-proof trench coat and a cheap black mask I'd bought earlier.
I looked around again just in case and raised the coat's hood over my head as I walked into the streets, making a straight beeline for the unconscious super villain's body.
Crouching down, I put my hands on the man's body and indiscriminately stored the entirety of his black-red suit into my inventory, which was a mistake since the bastard didn't have the decency to wear underwear.
I frowned in disgust, pushing down the urge to kick the man in the nuts before I stood up and left the scene in a hurry before the confusion died out and someone noticed me.
But little did I know at the time...
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