Raymond’s Attempt At The Febuary Writing Challenge!

I’m extremely happy with how this months story turned out. I had a lot of fun writing it. I tend not to enjoy first person perspective, but this worked out really well. I hope you enjoy it. If you like to know what the stimulus was, check it out here.

Saffron


 

A loud bang, a clatter of steel balls on plate and brick, a roaring cheer from half the cities uppers. Someone dies, a hero is celebrated. Soon two more performers will take the stage. I’m not in this to perform. I like the killing. I’m chasing the skill mastery. Swift, knee jerk precision; that’s what I’m after. I’m not flashy, I don’t toy with my prey. I just kill ‘em. As quick, and as clean as I can.

Strangely my style has been well received. It’s not what most others bring to the field. Although, let’s be real, people just get off on seeing a cute brunette dispassionately dropping fools.

They’ll be done resetting the arena soon, time to get dressed. My armour case looks like worn shit, but my shell is good. Solid grey plates of modular armour bits. I pull on the under clothes, black nano-adhesive cloth. Black elbow gloves, black thigh high socks, black top. The armour bits just cling to the fabric, like magnets on a fridge. The armours for shit really. The gauntlets and boots cover me a little, and the chest piece covers some of my organs; but there is still plenty of skin. Midriff puts butts in seats though, and it’s not like anyone ever sucks breath long enough to hit me.

Once the armours up, I strap a belt around my waist and load it with a few spare mags and grenades. Kind of a condom situation, rather have it and not need it. Then it’s time for my signature yellow cape. Get it? Kind of silly, but I thought it looked cool. Do I have time to light up? Shit. I’m searching for my smokes, ripping open pouches and bags, tossing shit all over the hole. I’ve gotta have one left. Maybe…I flip over the little bed the runners have provided me. I was sure Cage offered me a smoke before, maybe the dog dropped the pack when he ran out after.

Just as I hear the heavy boots coming down the hall I see it, the last cig I’ve got I quickly snatch it as they burst in. Two big meaty figures in thick green full body vinyl. They must be swimming in this heat. One of the wranglers speaks, it’s echo-y and mechanical. “Saffron, time to go.” ‘way they talk gives me shivers. I light up, take a drag, and speak around the cig. “Need my shooter.” As I speak I gesture to a locked gun case. The wranglers keep the keys so we don’t kill each other before our matches.

The guard that spoke before raised their arm, a clunky wrist cuff shone a blue light on the case and the door swung open. Inside sat my rifle, haphazardly crammed into the locker. A tall, thin piece of hardware, splitting open a slight where the barrel sat; like the waiting mouth of a croc. I yanked it out of the hole, flipping switches near the butt and the sight. Small lights bursting into colour. The guards grunted, I slammed in a mag, and we march up to the arena.

I could hear the distant shouting and screaming of the crowd as they cheered, but I could barely make out the announcers as we wound up the labyrinth of stairs. Not that’d mattered. Never meet a man I couldn’t kill. I could smell the sweat, and blood as we got to the main floor. As we neared the gate an acrid smell like burning computers filled my nose. Melee shit was always popular in the pit, but recently lasers had come back into vogue; personally I preferred railguns. Electro-magnets hurling bolts of steel at supersonic speeds. It felt like firing a sci-fi crossbow. As the thought of hardware porn flooded my mind I stroked my piece. Probs time for an upgrade. I grinned to myself as I put out my smoke on my thigh high armour. The announcer was wrapping up my intro as the gate slid open. “…The Iron Lady of JerTa’lk, Madam Saffron!” Any gladiator that says to don’t give a shit about the explosive applause you get when you strut into the arena, is a fucking liar. Sure it’s not my prime motivator, but it’s still fucking awesome. As I strut across the sand, yellow cloak flapping with the gait of my walk, pretending not to care; I spot my opponent on the other side of the arena. They’re dressed like someone out of a Wushu film. A big round rice farmer’s hat. Blue and white monks robes, with a big string of beads wrapped around their hand. And the fuck is kneeling in the sand, praying or some shit.

I take my mark, and my cape begins to settle. I don’t see any armour on them, but it could be under their costume. Shouldn’t matter. I throw away my act of disinterest and settle into focus.
“Fighters! Are you ready?” The crowd of thousands is deathly silent as the announcers voice reverbs off the surrounds. The Monk slowly stands and then does some kind a kung fooie flourish, pushing their feet through the sand, circling their arms about them self, before freezing in place. I just sigh as I shoulder my canon and nod.

This is gonna be a peice of piss, this fucks all show for sure. When the guy shouts “FIGHT!” I put my eye to glass and centre it on my prey quick as light, and squeeze that trigger. A loud sonic crack echoes as the bolt buzzes across the field and puts hole straight through the wall of the arena. The crowd cheers. I’m just standing here fuck stunned. Where the fuck are they. I see ‘em, almost like a blur, running to flank me. Not because they have super speed or some bull, just because I’m a slow, static piece of shit at the moment. I turn quick as I can, to see the bastard right there to my left. Ridiculous hat floating away, hands tucked into their stupid fuckin’ robes. Putting my rifle to shoulder feels like dragging my arms through wet cement. Just as I bring my weapon to bare their hands jerk out from their robes as they leap into the air. Right there in their fucking hands are two elongated, ornate, 5 shot revolvers. We’re talking scroll work and’ dragons and shit.

I start moving my arms up, trying to track ‘em; but there’s no time. The arseholes practically sailing overhead as they start to unload. 1, 2, 3 slams into my armoured chest plate), 4 peels off one of the armour bits on top of my ribs. 5 parts my bouncing curls, 6 cuts through the air and lands in the wall behind me; just like 1 & 2. I’m practically shooting from the hip as I stumble back. The round I squeezed off clips their ankle and their foot practically explodes from the sheer kinetic force my railgun packs. I trip over my own feet as they growl and suck air. They should be enough pain to put anyone down.

They do another stupid flourish as I steady myself, that’s when I notice the burning smell. I look down to my chest plate and see smoke rising from the little crater in my armour plate. Corrosive rounds. No wonder they were using old school bullets, a railgun would have caved that payload in before it left the barrel. I’ve gotta do something quick.

I drop my rifle as my right hand reaches for the top edge of the plate that’s now melting. My left hand snatches a grenade from my belt, I plunge the safety and toss it towards them quick as I can. They break the middle of their dance and flip backwards. I just slam my eyes shut and rip that burning steel from my chest. I here the brain splitting crack of the flash-bang as part of my wrecked chest piece goes sailing. Eyes bolted shut I drop to the deck fanning my hands through the sand, I feel for my rifle.

All I can hear is tinnitus, and years of hearing problems rushing to meet me; I grab my rifle. I blindy flick all the safeties and charging switches that reset when it’s dropped. I can feel a bullet slide into the breach as I open my eyes scan for the dead piece of shit. If they are still standing I’ll…well I’m already pissed. I’ll be…FUCKING FURIOUS!

The cunt is kneeling there, speed-loading their pistols. My balance is for shit but I can see well enough. I take a deep breath. Hold it. Then exhale. The bitch is done reloading. They can probably still see tracers. We’re both out in the open. I take a deep breath. Hold it. I keep holding. Maximum effort. I hold the air until it almost burns. Then slowly exhale. Control the body. I take aim as they point their arms straight out from their sides. No breathe in. Just exhale. Sighted. They start firing, I can hear the muffled sound Their moving their arms in random directions, firing off; probing. They almost hit me with their last volley. I fire. That supersonic round cuts through the din of sudden deafness. The bolt slams into a point just above their sternum and punches a massive hole out of the back of them.

I’ve won. I’m fucked up, but I won. Might never hear the same again, but I’ve won. I can’t really hear the cheering but I know the routine. I try to get back into character. The aloof killer. Disinterested in applause. It’s hard to find that place again. I roll my shoulder as I start a slow walk out of the arena. I won’t be fighting or at least a week.

The gate slams shut behind me, the roaring of half the cities uppers continues. Someone holds the crowds attention as the body is cleared. Where’s Cage? I need to get fucked up.

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