Chapter 23 - Nice Work

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 Codi winced as the nurse dabbed at the bloody scrape on her right cheek. That side of her mouth felt numb, and it hurt her left side to breathe in too deeply. It seemed that Varlin had been paying attention when she fought Cassandra Riven.

The fight hadn’t been a total disaster. Already having qualified she had nothing to lose in her first encounter with Varlin, so she threw caution to the winds. She landed a handful of solid hits and made the point that she wasn’t scared of him or anyone else. That being said, it didn’t change the fact he’d dominated the exchange from start to abrupt finish. The worst he had to show was a bruise, whereas Codi now sported a jaw that had very nearly been dislocated, a sprained wrist and three cracked ribs. Her left side was encased in a skeletal frame similar to the supports of the exoskeleton armour. The lines of slender metal followed the contours of her ribs and apparently the rig would see her fit to fight before the day was over.

The nurse took the cloth away, satisfied she had cleaned out the scrape. Picking up a device from the nearby table she held it close to Codi’s cheek. A humming sound filled the air and she recoiled.

“It’s alright,” the nurse assured her. “It’s just a tissue regenerator. We’ll just stitch over that graze on your cheek and it’ll be good as new.”

Reluctantly, Codi held still while the nurse worked. A fizzing sensation developed over the mark where Varlin’s clenched fist had slammed home. After a few minutes the nurse removed the regenerator.

“Right, that’ll do the job for today.” She pointed an accusing finger. “Now, I know what you kids are like, but try not to move around too much for the next few hours. Let the setter do its job.” With that she strode from the room leaving Codi to brood.

As she levered herself out of the medical lounger she wasn’t sure how to feel. It was the first fight she’d lost, but losing to Varlin wasn’t exactly something to be ashamed of. However, she couldn’t shake the sense of futility that the day’s events cast over the tournament. No matter what happened, when push came to shove, Bruno Varlin would be there in the final and nobody would be able to stop him winning.

She looked up at the sound of footsteps. Vasco slunk into the room, hands in pockets and stopped beside her. He looked almost ashamed of himself. When he met her gaze he forced a weak smile.

“How you feeling, kid?”

Codi smirked. “Like I’ve been hit by a car. So nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Glad to hear it,” Vasco chuckled. “You put on quite a show.”

“Still got kicked around like a damned football.”

“You do know that nobody’s gone a full round with Varlin this year, right?” he asked.

“I do now.”

“Well don’t beat yourself up. You just fought the reigning champion and he won fare and square. I’ll be surprised if anybody beats him.”

Codi nodded her understanding. “Yeah, well fingers crossed. Am I okay to get out of here?”

“That’s why I came. I figured if you’re up to it we could go over the fight with Varlin, see if we can pick up any pointers in case you run into him again.”

She gave a derisive snort as they started walking. “Forget fists and cameras. If I end up fighting Varlin again just give me a gun.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Vasco grinned and clapped her gently on the back. “One more thing though, I thought you’d like to know that your boyfriend made it through.”

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