Chapter 7-Final Fight, but not the Final Battle

Jim hadn't had any idea that he would've made it to the final round. Truly, he was the strongest among them, but he had used battle tactics he had learned from Vietnam to assist him in the fights he had won. Suzanne had been rubbing his shoulders and keeping him hydrated.

"I feel like Rocky with my beloved Adrian to cheer me on.", he said, leaning her over backwards to smooch her passionately. She chortled drunkenly and smiled at him. Kissing him softly again she stroked his face affectionately.

"Be careful in this last fight, James. That Judo coach from St. Anna Maria of the Reeds looks tough.", Suzanne said. She took his hand in hers and brought it up to her lips to kiss it before the battle began. XANA was biding his time, looking at a stop watch he had in the pocket of his digital suit. He seemed bored, but it was difficult to read his expression, or lack thereof.

The Judo instructor, Moreau Henson, stepped forward and went into his stance.

"Begin !", XANA exclaimed. The two men charged forward and Jim high-kicked Moreau. Henson staggered back.

"Pencak Silat, created in Indonesia. Interesting.", he said, while placing his fingers to his chin. Jim was impressed with Henson's movements as well. The ultra-muscular coach and Jim had quite a bit in common, most notably, their love of martial arts. Jim felt a bit bad about having to spar against this man, but thus far, he had the advantage until Moreau uppercut him. Jim adjusted his jaw and chuckled a bit. The pain was only momentary and the fight had only begun to become intriguing.

Unlike most of the fights that proceeded this one, the battle was continuing into the late evening. Both competitors were becoming tired, but they were matched equally. The powerful Moreau wanted to wave the white flag and allow his opponent to win. He had been beaten up pretty significantly and was starting to feel pain all over his body.

"I surrender.", Moreau said, coming in with his white t-shirt in hand after the two of them had taken a small break between bouts. XANA had never seen this occur before and it wasn't as he would've predicted the fight would've ended.

"Very well then. Morales is victorious and the students are set free.", XANA said. Without one moment of hesitation, XANA snapped his finger and the students were gone, as well as the implements used to drain their essence.

"Now what ?", Patric asked after a long, pregnant pause.

"I now realize that my initial plot to kidnap these students was ill-advised. There is no documentation that states I can inherit immortality simply by tapping into the essence of a youngster. Science states it is an immoral act, and I suppose I have done wrong in trying to test it for myself. But since you won the tournament, the students have been safely returned to their homes and think of their meeting with the pied piper as nothing more than reverie.", XANA said.

"Get to the point, you windbag.", Taelia said, growing impatient.

"Now now, Russian Princess. Calm yourself. If I cannot get immortality through them, I will try getting it through the Keys themselves. That is…If the lot of you cannot aide them. Either you can hand the Keys over or we have to fight.", XANA stated.

"We are the Keys.", Aelita said, looking at Leona.

"I too, am a Key. Between our dimension and others.", Amy said.

"That includes myself.", Meiyo added, unafraid of what sacrificing herself would entail.

"You can't ! If you're gone…I don't know what I'd do. How I'd live without you. Aelita, I love you !", Jeramie stated, hugging her. Leona covered her mouth as tears filled her eyes. Everyone else tried not to cry as well, since the scene was so touching.

"Please don't Princess. You're our friend. And the rest of you that are thinking of sacrificing yourselves, don't you dare !", Sam said, compassionately. The Keys contemplated this and stepped back.

"Even if we are Keys, we have a right to live.", Leona said, in a stately manner.

"I was afraid you would say that little Princess. Then, I have one decree left for you Keys to survive.", XANA said, with a slight sneer on his face. His eyes glowed eerily red and he began to laugh manically.

Written by Angie Y. and FlowerofAdversity