(… continuing from chapter 2.)
Broken Blade: chapter 3
Sword could hear the roar of the crowd as he strode forward, down the dark tunnel that led into the light. He could hear the cheer change pitch as he walked out into the vast white space of the arena.
It took a couple of seconds for his eyes to accept that the encircling grandstands were empty—just like it always did; the echo of the crowd roar always seemed to linger. Perhaps it was because he had always kept his eyes low when he was a fighter- focused on the expanse of white sand ahead of him, and whatever dangers it contained; never straying above the false horizon of the arena’s far edge. He needed the sound to fill the emptiness, the dusty expanse stretching so far that the eye could hardly grasp that it was circular.
It was here that Sword had become the Galaxy’s greatest gladiator, and now, it was here that he was expected to turn Broken Blade into a weapon—her owner’s latest challenger for the championship.
“Stand there,” he ordered her, when they’d gone about a minute out into the empty space. She stopped, and glanced at him. “No, just stand natural, like you’re about to get into an alley fight.”
He frowned professionally at the girl as she shifted her weight, then circled round her, studying her poise and the way her her weight translated into force, gauging the muscle definition under her skin, and the shape she was likely to move in.
“You should take off the shift,” he said, his tone flat and professional. In response, she folded her arms below her chest, and looked at him, her expression tightening slightly.
“I’d rather not,” she shrugged.
“You can’t have any sentiment, in this line of work,” he told her, and he meant it. “Your body is a weapon. Nothing more.”
“Don’t tell me you’re not proud of your own body,” she countered, with a small, hostile smirk as she ran her gaze across his bare chest.
“I’m satisfied with what I am,” he answered, with a muscular shrug. “But I’m an unsentimental kind of guy.” He moved towards her, slowing to a fighter’s pace. “My body looks the way it does because it’s the best killing machine my training masters ever produced. It’s functional.”
“In the arena, or the bedroom?” the girl challenged. “You want me to fight for His Lordship, fine. But don’t expect me to pose for the audience of a trillion drooling teenage boys in Future Corps armbands. I know what arena sport is like.”
The corner of Sword’s mouth lifted in what might have been amusement, as he rested one big hand on her shoulder—a gesture that reminded him of how to snap people’s necks with his bare strength. He looked down towards her eyes, not caring if she looked back or not. “Like it or not, they’ll drool at the way you move anyway. There’s not much about the way Stiletto wears her armour that’s especially sexy… there’s just something about a girl who handles a weapon like a ballet dancer.”
“Stiletto?” Broken Blade’s eyebrow lifted, her tone showing the professional interest of a fighter before a fight. That was good.
“Stiletto is the Lady Empress’s reigning champion,” Sword answered. “The woman you’re being trained to kill.”
“I’m still not taking off my clothes,” she answered, looking calmly back at him.
(… continued in chapter 4!)