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A grunt emerges from behind the worn leathery surface of her orange boxing glove. "Hands up!" The coach's warning comes too late for her opponent, coaxing a smirk onto Sylvie's features.

The coach announces the thirty second mark. Sylvie takes full advantage of the remaining time, hands and feet working in unison to create combinations which rock her opponent whenever they land. Her opponent doesn't drop those hands again until the bell mercifully announces the end of the round.

Sweat pours from her brow, the headband plastered across her hairline oversaturated and useless. Sylvie extends a glove in a show of respect. "Great job, you really kept me moving."

He returns the gesture. The corners of his lips twitch as he rubs his nose with his forearm. It's red from so many shots to the face, but thankfully isn't bleeding. The beginnings of bruises emerge along his thigh where her kicks made contact. She tries to temper her strength, but with the tournament fast approaching Sylvie can't afford to go too easy during these sessions.

"Thanks. Great round Daystorm. You're ready for your fight. Do me a favor and don't lose."

Perhaps his ego's a bit bruised as well.

"I'll do my best Trevor!"

Daystorm's a pseudonym she uses both in the ring and for online gaming. Truthfully, she much prefers it over her given name. Daystorm lives an exciting life. She bests tough opponents and partakes in grand adventures on the big screen. Well, games on the TV screen anyways. Sylvie, however, sits in front of a computer all day entering data and answering phones. It pays the bills - you can't trade the coins you earn in games for cash no matter how much you wish otherwise. She'd be stinking rich if this were the case!

The round ends sparring class for the night. Sylvie retrieves her gym bag where it lies open against the wall, its content spewing out from the gaping zippered maw. It takes a moment to organize everything within the confines of the purple canvas. How is it the gear never goes in as easily as it comes out?

Snippets of conversation intrude in her thoughts as the others make plans to go out. Plans which don't include her. She wouldn't go in any case. Large crowds of sweaty people looking to score don't interest Sylvie. Her idea of a perfect night out involves pyjamas, a good book, and a bottle of Irish cream. The alcohol, unfortunately, will have to wait, what with the competition looming around the corner.

Sylvie thanks her coach for a great class, pulls the strap of the gym bag across her shoulder, and steps outside. The chill spring air provides a small measure of relief from the intense workout, cooling the sweat on her heated skin. Traffic, heavier at this time of night, calms once she crosses the bridge connecting her neighborhood to the downtown area.

The sun tucks itself cosily into the horizon, its red and orange hues spreading across the scattering of clouds adrift in a darkening ocean of blue. The setting sun pushes darkening shadows across her path, night's fingers clawing their way back after their temporary banishment by the light of day.

A blue jay shouts a harsh cry in the tree tops, warning the world of her presence in the avian version of a long distance call. Up ahead a lone figure walks two dogs, their silent trek leading the trio in the same general direction as home. The dogs busy themselves with sniffing the sidewalk, tails wagging in furious delight while they prance joyously in their explorations.

A distinct feeling of loss churns in the pit of her stomach when the trio turn a corner, leaving her alone on the street. The strap of her gym bag cuts into her shoulder as if berating her for the stupid thought. Seriously, the man is something like a half mile away, completely unaware of her presence while his dogs enjoy their evening stroll.

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