Chapter 17 - Ready for Mayhem

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 A banging on the door of her small dorm yanked Codi rudely from her sleep. She blinked and rubbed her eyes before swinging her legs off the side of the bed. When her feet touched the cold floor she sucked in a sharp breath.

“You awake, Codi?” Max’s muffled voice sounded from the other side. “Vasco just told me. The sheets for the Mayhems are up in the fighter’s lobby. Time to find out who we’re mixing it up with tomorrow.”

“Alright, I’m up!” she shouted back. It was half true. She dressed as quickly as she could, flinging on a pair of shorts, trainers, and her old hoody and black beanie. Splashing water from the sink over her face, Codi blinked herself awake and yanked her door open. Max was waiting for her.

He indicated over his shoulder with one thumb. “C’mon, the others are already down there.”

“Well don’t let me slow you down,” she returned, closing the door behind her. Max smiled then spun around, bolting off down the corridor like a child racing to his birthday presents. She followed at a jog, down the spiralling ramps that connected the floor of the arena in lieu of a nice ordinary staircase. Even the ramps themselves were constructed of a hard transparent plastic, letting her look down and see Max barrelling along a couple of floors below. It was a singularly odd experience.

The fighter’s lobby was a large, cube-shaped room with four colossal screens, ten feet across, embedded in one wall. There the brackets of the tournament were displayed. An opening in the wall left of the screen led to the cafeteria, a chamber large enough accommodate the over three hundred strong gathering of competitors. The arena operated an open door policy without any set meal times, but Vasco had told them to enforce the same rigid schedule as they had done back in Brax-Delta.

Pulling up alongside Max, Codi took a deep breath upon seeing the gathering in the lobby area. At least a hundred other fighters filled the room, each one studying the Mayhem listings, hunting fervently for his or her name, the noise from their voices rising in a swell. She hunted for the others in her team. It didn’t take long to spot the twins, their burly forms planted side by side in front of the rightmost screen. After a moment of searching she still couldn’t spot Lita. With a shrug, she nudged Max with one elbow and set off into the crowd.

Slipping herself through the slew of muscled, sinewy bodies, Codi led her companion towards one of the central screens. Most of the other fighters wore their team tracksuits, but a hulking form coming the other way had no apparent designation. One solid shoulder knocked Codi aside and she whirled with a snarl.

“Watch it!”

The fighter in question didn’t stop, but he did look back over his shoulder. She watched the short-haired dome of a head swivel around, and then the cobalt blue eyes locked onto hers. She stopped in her tracks. Bruno Varlin raised an amused eyebrow at her before turning back and continuing on his way.

“Codi…”

“Well that’s not who I thought I’d run into on day one,” she muttered. “C’mon, let’s check the brackets.”

She rounded and resumed her journey, elbowing her way through the throng until she was close enough to see the screen. This one displayed four Mayhems worth of competitors but she couldn’t find her name among them. Suddenly a dark-skinned hand shot out from over her left shoulder, pointing.

“Well there’s me,” Lita said. “Doesn’t look like I got any of Vasco’s hard hitters in my group.”

Codi glanced at her with a smirk. “Well yippee for you.” She returned her attention to hunting for her name, but to no avail. However, Max found his Mayhem and also spotted one the fighters Vasco had warned them about. The girl, Ripple.

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