M.A.I.D.S. Episode 13 – One Candle

With the Batcave still locked-down, morning looked very much like the evening preceding it. The lights in Adam's home went through their normal day/night cycle, gradually intensifying in the morning to lull sleepers to wakefulness. The Batcave proper also had an automated light scheme, though the lights it housed were antiquated, harsh, and bright. Insects and rodents that dwelled underground, unaccustomed to subterranean luminescence, were suitably grumpy as they sought shelter from the artificial light.

The group avoided cabin fever by immersing themselves in as much normalcy as their self-imposed confinement allowed. Conversation was kept light, as discussing more serious matters would unnecessarily weigh down everyone's spirits. Pandora hardly spoke, but was pleased to observe men so closely.

Pandora rose first and prepared a delicious breakfast for her guests and owner—bacon, eggs, grits, fresh biscuits, country-style potatoes, orange juice, and coffee. She left the spread in the kitchen and went out to exercise, jogging several laps around the perimeter of the Batcave. She calculated that one circuit around the perimeter was approximately a kilometer, and Pandora scrutinized her surroundings during her 5k run. She paid particular attention to the sealed-off locations for entrance and egress, and was satisfied with their security by the time she retired to the shower.

Ben took the opportunity to get caught up on his work. After eating a light breakfast, the reporter claimed the table in the sitting room as his work area, using his powerful computer gauntlet to project various screens and interface-equipment. Some screens displayed news feeds, others messages from contacts, correspondents, and encrypted data from deep-cover informants. One screen even displayed a once-popular 21st century computer game, Minesweeper, of which Ben was fond. Established information entered Ben through his eyes and ears, and new information left through his fingertips. He became engrossed in his work, and the others left him to it.

"You want a piece of me?" Monroe asked Adam in a voice that was equal measure threat and jest.

"No. I want the whole damn thing!" Adam quipped. Adam was by no means a small man, but compared to Monroe's mighty bulk he seemed small as he darted toward his opponent. Monroe tried to catch Adam with a lariat but the smaller man nimbly tumbled under Monroe's outstretched arm. Adam regained his feet before Monroe was able to turn around and dropkicked the big man squarely between the shoulder blades. Monroe teetered, but did not fall. He spun around and the two men began circling each other again.

"That was pretty good, pretty boy," Monroe taunted. "Not good enough."

"I'm just getting warmed up," Adam responded, then the two men came together fiercely in a collar-and-elbow tie-up. They grappled toe-to-toe for a moment before the big man shoved his smaller opponent off his feet. Adam quickly rolled to a vertical stance and came at Monroe again. Again the men tied up, and again Monroe shoved Adam off like he was nothing. The two men circled each other a few times, sometimes feinting forward to try and throw the other off-guard.

"C'mon Monroe, quit playing," Adam goaded.

"Oh, if that's how you want it. Playtime is over!" the two combatants came together again. Monroe took control, locking Adam in a headlock. Adam tried to squirm out of it, tried to power out of it, but Monroe was just too strong. Adam elbowed Monroe in his sizable ribs once, twice, thrice, then stomped on Monroe's foot to finally break the hold. Adam ducked under Monroe's arm and popped behind him, locking his opponent in a rear waistlock.

"Really? Really?" Monroe said, grasping Adam's hands with his own. Monroe thrust his hips forward, breaking Adam's grip, and spun around him to grab Adam in a waistlock of his own. Without visible effort Monroe lifted Adam high into the air, turned slightly, and brought him down chest-first on the mat. With remarkable agility for a man so hefty, Monroe quickly adjusted his position so that his chest was on Adam's shoulder-blades, the two men oriented in opposite directions like the hands on a clock. He tried to grab Adam up in a front face-lock, but Adam quickly spun out of Monroe's grasp, turning the tables and suddenly mounting the muscular man's back. Adam leapt into the air as Monroe propped himself onto all fours, coming back down across Monroe's back with the point of his elbow. Monroe grunted in pain and flattened out.

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