There were worse people to have at your back. Considering how much they didn’t like each other, she expected it was a bit of a revelation to both of them. Cole hit one of their opponents and got them a little breathing room. Enough for her take stock of their situation. They’d been herded to the top platform of the arena. The floor was a long way down, assuming you didn’t hit any of the metal spikes, crossbars, or other platforms if you fell. Cole favored his left leg and was breathing hard. They’d both taken a few hits. Their opponents, she didn’t know what to call the six-limbed mantis like aliens, had taken a few, but their exoskeletons seemed to be up to it.
Breathing room gone. The years of training took over. She was glad they both had military tactics. It wouldn’t surprise her if she and Cole had shared a trainer or two. Even if his style was nothing like hers. It didn’t take too many blows and blocks for Lore to realize Cole was hurt worse than he let her see. She dodged and took two steps back. The calculated training pointed out that she was holding back, not using her abilities. It could get them both killed. But she wasn’t about to let Cole see what she could do. He had enough hints already.
But it wouldn’t matter if they both died.
She could let him die. It would solve her problem. More probably. And rage boiled up inside of her. No. She wasn’t going to be that person. She’d been made into a killer. A soldier. Someone’s tool, and she was done. So she knew what she had to do.
She tossed Cole a shield and started edging toward the back of the platform. The footing got tricky as the floor wasn’t more than a metal lattice on cross beams. She lunged at her opponent and missed, damaging the mesh. She made three more strikes on the floor, then kicked her opponent down. The thing shrieked and one of its legs plunged through the weakened floor. She lunged in for a headshot. She’d forgotten the other arms. And twin punches sent her flying back. Too far back. Cole screamed in denial.
She scrabbled for purchase but couldn’t stop herself from flying off the edge. It took all of her concentration to control her fall and she still hit half the obstacles on the way down. But she picked herself up once she’d hit. She’d hurt her left arm. Probably broken some ribs. Pulled more muscles than she could count. But she was still standing.
She couldn’t tell what was going on up top. But she knew what Cole would think happened to her. It was a terrible thing to let him believe.
She took stock of where she was. Across the field from her, there was an access vent. A way out. She looked up toward the top of the arena. A good person would go back. A good person would let her erstwhile partner know she wasn’t dead.
Lore made her way to the access vent and busted it open. She didn’t look back as she left the arena, but inside, she felt cold.
I stole a tough decision from Bek this week. I think it may be more than one…. I know at least one other thief stole one…