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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 72: Slade 166
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Previous chapter: Chapter 71: Brown 193
As Slade fought, he marveled at the skill of his diminutive opponent, and that on every level. She parried or dodged nearly every strike from both of his blades, and managed to get past his defenses more than once despite the short reach of both her knife and her arm, and did so seemingly effortlessly. When he did connect, she did not flinch, and she did not bleed, and her expression never changed. He wondered whether she might be a robot, but the suppleness of her movement would require an incredible level of technology.
He also realized how very involved he had to be in this, giving her his full attention, as he never could anticipate her next move. Usually when he fought someone, at least part of his mind was attending to the rest of the battle, particularly whether Shella was all right, also how the team was faring against their opponents generally. This time there was no chance to think about anything but the immediate danger posed by one small girl with a knife who moved like a cross between lightning and water, fast and fluid. He dodged another swipe but then took an unexpected thump as she changed directions and caught his side with the pommel.
She was good.
More than that, she was better than anyone Slade had ever faced. She was, he realized, better than he himself.
It had been a long time since he had fought someone better than him.
Maybe he wouldn’t lose. After all, Shella was out there, and although he wasn’t certain what she could do she had often helped him in the past. Joe and Zeke were positioned to snipe, although they might be pinned down by the other attackers and probably would have trouble getting clear shots at the girl while she was dancing around him. There was also Lauren, and although between the alien and the fire spirit she undoubtedly had her hands quite full, hopefully Shella was helping with some of that.
The other point was that the girl didn’t seem to be tiring. He was. Probably he had not slowed noticeably yet, but he could feel it, and it was more of an effort to keep moving, dodging, weaving, sweeping, striking, stabbing, and all of it was becoming less effective.
He was going to lose.
Well, it was good practice for Ragnorak. There wasn’t so much practice in constantly fighting opponents who were easy to beat. This had been the best workout he’d had in quite a while. He would thank her, were it not that the end was now certain and there would be no conversation in this world.
He saw the blow coming, and both of his blades were out of position as the knife came up the middle directly for him. He was dimly aware of a bright light somewhere above, and an increasing heat, but he did not wonder what it was.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #343: Worlds Explode. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: