Loading... Chapter Seven
If Owen wanted to avoid getting on the news again, skipping the arena would be best. It was overhyped, and far too removed from his normal world. But the place did have one person he fully respected; Sal. He hadn't figured out who in the world played the barge of a man, but hadn't tried to out him, since so few arena players didn't freely give their name.
"Ah, Daniel, it's been too long!" Sal said, his voice booming cheerfully. "What brings you by?" He stood with his arms crossed, making his square shoulders seem even more so.
"I wanted to see how much fight this one has in her." Daniel gestured over his shoulder to Amilia, who had been silently trailing behind like a shadow. She didn't venture forward at her name, too absorbed by where she was.
If historical minimalism was possible, a screencap of the arena is what would appear in textbooks as the example. Unlike Daniel's usual hunting grounds, details were smoothed over to handle the influx of people. It was hardly missed since it wasn't what most of these players looked for, but Amilia seemed to. While her eyes carefully looked around, Daniel watched her with enough curiosity as if seeing an eclipse.
Sal cleared his throat before speaking. "Sure thing," he chuckled, before speaking directly to Amilia. "It would be a pleasure to set that up for you." He bowed his head, remaining taller than her even then, before he left to arrange the matches.
"He's going to put you up against people who'll get progressively harder as you learn," Daniel explained, as he started after Sal. "Remember your greatest asset against them is being light on your feet."
Amilia swallowed hard, then nodded. "I'm ready."
The short hallway opened up to a new area with a sparring ring at its heart. The first adversary stood waiting, his idle stance looping quickly since his whole existence was that of a punching bag that could throw one back.
Sal was standing in the corner, conversing casually with someone, but found himself curious of Daniel's experiment. The man in the ring cracked his knuckles, a smirk grew on his face as Amilia stepped in.
Daniel leaned into the railing. "He's not talkative, but he'll go straight for your jaw if given the chance."
Amilia shied to look back at Daniel. Her face puckered up, but when she couldn't find any real reply for the warning, she turned back, trying to wash away any emotions that would get in the way. Her hands balled into fists as she raised them. "Ready," she whispered to herself this time.
If there was meant to be a bell, she didn't wait for one. She jolted forward to strike first. The jab was quick, but he dodged sideways and took the opportunity to throw a punch at her torso. The rush of air he forced out caused Amilia to stumble away to regain her breath.
The man stood back, grinning like he had a remark, but didn't venture saying it. Amilia's hand twitched towards her ribs, but she willed herself not to baby them. Her ego wouldn't stand going down after the first hit.
She straightened up soon enough, and turned to fight. This time waiting for a punch to be thrown at her. After a shuffle of feet and a tease of a jab, she learned to read his movements better. A punch came at her face, but she knew exactly what she had to do to avoid getting hit. Amilia spun, and kicked him square in the chest. He stumbled a step, but regained his posture automatically.
Adrenaline seeped into her veins. Her thoughts sped up and her focus solidified. Another punch came, but she stepped out of his range. Amilia moved close again to land a kick to his stomach. He reflexively grabbed his sides, and once she thought his guard was down, Amilia swung for his head.
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Bone Diggers (Paperback out now!)Science Fiction
When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC. Dirty little secrets can't be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more impo...