Leaving the Darkness: Part X
Part X: Some Work Required
I watched quietly as everyone fought the Rook, slipping in and out of echo to assess other things not visible to the naked eye. I wasn’t particularly surprised to see Allen get his ass handed to him. I definitely took some enjoyment out of the sight of him splayed on the floor. Sage did surprisingly well considering they had never fought anyone before, or at least that was what they said to Allison. Allison on the other hand was a force to be reckoned with. Even after all that the Rook had barely broken a sweat. I figured the sweat that was there was simply due to the heat of Allison’s power as opposed to exertion.
“You!” he yelled, gesturing at me with his half-charred staff. “Last one up. Let’s get this over with.” I glanced at the others in the class.
“Does anyone have a gun?” I asked. Some seemed surprised by the question.
“I only have a laser one,” Sanjay said, handing a gauntlet. I frowned as I pulled it on, noting the weapon discharged from my palm. It wasn’t what I was used to but it would work. I still had the knives in my boots as well.
“You’ll need to replace the cell every three shots,” Sanjay explained, pointing to the relevant port on the gauntlet. He handed me six reloads which I pocketed. I wouldn’t need that many.
The Rook studied me as I walked forward. I switched to echolocation, confirming what my observation had told me. He favoured his right side for attacks, backed up by the slight increase in muscle mass on that side of his frame. I could see as well as his staff he had knives on his person, smaller and thinner than my bulky ones. I took another step forward, focussing my echo more so I would hit my target. I felt the hum as the weapon charged in my hand, buzzing lightly around my wrist. I feigned to his right and he matched my movement. I lifted my hand, just grazing his left thigh. He was fast.
I heard the whistle of him moving his staff and easily avoided it. I grabbed the end of it nearest me after it passed and pulled hard, aiming and landing a kick on his ribs. I heard a rush of air. He dropped the staff and rushed me. I mostly dodged but a fist still connected with my shoulder. I took the opportunity to fire a second blast. A grunt reached me as it connected with his side. The smell of burning flesh adding to the smell leftover from Allison’s fight with him. I pulled away, breaking the close quarters for a moment and leaving echo. Echolocation never drained me but it was always a good idea to assess things visually. There was smoke rising from the seared clothing where I’d gotten him.
“How much experience of fighting do you have?” he asked, sounding mildly excited.
“I started young,” I replied.
“I hope you’re not tired yet,” he said.
He had left his staff where it was and I saw him reach for his waistline. If his knives were anything like Charlie’s, I did not want to face those. I lifted my palm, shooting at his chest. He of course dodged but it wasn’t my intention to hit him. It gave me the chance to get closer to him. He evaded and matched any hand to hand combat I attempted and I realised I would tire quickly if I kept it up. I managed to land an uppercut to his jaw and used the shock to use dirtier tactics. I dropped and rolled, grabbing his cape. He managed to catch himself from taking a full fall, his knees bending as he braced himself. I slipped into echo and as I turned I raised my palm and rested it against his upper back, behind where his heart beat at an accelerated rate. I hesitated, unsure how far I was meant to take this. It cost me. He stood and spun, grabbing my arm upwards in the motion, twisting with sickening crunch. I cried out, gritting my teeth together. I tasted blood in my mouth and realised I’d bitten my lip. The shock of it dragged me back into the visual world.
“-sitatation should be avoided. I figured an experienced fighter would know that,” he said, dropping my arm. I backed away a step and tried to raise my arm again, white fire laced my nerves and I dropped it swiftly. So much for the laser gun.
“I also think you forgot to reload. But good effort, you can yield now,” He finished, sounding smug. I wasn’t done yet though. I ran, ducking as I approached him to grab the knife in my left boot with my unhurt arm. He easily dodged the knife, elbowing me in the cheek hard enough to make me taste more blood. I threw my whole body at him and he easily rolled so it was his weight pinning me.
“I’m sensing bad impulse control,” he murmured. “Less than useful in a fight.” I growled a curse word at him but my other wrist with the knife was well and truly trapped by his hand. He pressed down harder, causing a jolt of pain. I cursed further in german.
“Ich Ausbeute,” I huffed.
“In English please,” he said. I glared at him, his response was to add further pressure.
“I yield!” I hissed. He stood up gracefully, wiping dirt from his clothing. I stayed on the floor, catching my breath.
“You’ve got a lot of work but not bad,” the Rook said. “See you all next week,” he said in way of a farewell. After his footsteps faded a few faces appeared above me, including Sanjay, Charlie, Ahti and Sage.
“You okay?” Sanjay asked. I rolled my eyes at him and pushed myself into a sitting position with my good hand, wincing in pain. Apparently he had landed a hit on my chest as well. I must have not noticed in the fight.
“We should take you to Doc Venus,” Charlie said. I nodded, attempting to stand but my legs didn’t like me attempting to push off the ground with one hand. Sanjay grabbed my good arm and helped me finish standing up before I could fall back and embarrass myself further.
“Thanks,” I whispered. Ahti was visibly shaking with worry, looking between me and the others who had fought.
“I need to stay with Allison but I hope your arms okay,” Sage said. I nodded my appreciation and started walking, holding my hurt arm with my okay one carefully. I was a little surprised Sanjay, Charlie, Caroline and Ahti were following.
“I don’t need a whole congregation,” I sighed. Charlie glanced at Caroline, an unspoken exchange passing between them.
“I want to make sure you’re okay though,” Ahti said, their voice gaining a pitch as they spoke. I blinked at them, looking at Sanjay for help but apparently he was as confused by social convention as I was.
“It’s not like I have a life threatening wound here jeez,” I muttered, turning and walking. Sij was surprised to see me a second time in the same day but set to work x-raying my arm. She concluded it was a sprain not a break and wrapped it up to prevent further damage.
“Take these if you get serious pain but it should be fine if you go easy for a few days,” she said, holding up a small plastic bottle. “Plenty of time to recover before you next fight with Michael,” she added, her cranial decorations moving in a sporadic pattern I’d recognised from the last venusian I knew to mean their version of laughing.
“Brilliant,” I muttered. Sanjay took the pills for me, thanking her for us.
“C’mon,” he said, pushing me towards the door. “At least it’s nothing serious,” he added.
“What are you, my mother?” I asked, taking the pills from him.
“I’m just trying to help,” he said. I glanced at my now occupied hand and the door handle. He smirked as he opened it as if to prove a point.
“You going to kiss my bit lip better too?” I muttered in German. He frowned at me but I didn’t translate. The other three were sat in the waiting room, apparently none of them had decided to leave while I was being seen.
“We’ve missed the first few minutes of Science,” Charlie said, standing up. “but don’t worry. Stanko is more invested in shared interest in the sciences than timekeeping,” she added.
“I gotta ask,” Sanjay asked as we walked. “Why did you grab his cape? All heros are prepared for those type of attacks.”
“Just one of those things I’ve always wanted to do,” I admitted with a shrug. “Heros look so smug with their damn capes. It’s good to remind them that they could backfire on them.” I realised the others were looking at me oddly.
“What?” I asked.
“I think your German to English wording needs work,” Sanjay joked. Oh, oops. Thankfully everyone seemed to agree with Sanjay assessment of the situation. I needed to be more careful not to get so relaxed around them.