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The Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling

Xxx

Part Four: Final Step

Zone One: The City

Downtown

En route to the freighter Flotsam

“Aw you’ve gotta be kiddin’ me.”

Donthar kept his head bowed, staring at his manacled hands and legs in sullen silence while his captors stood close by, looking over their Sky Cycles as well as those of their deceased compatriots: the Doc and Griz.

“Sorry boss, looks like while we were all rather preoccupied those little creepers passed through and gunked up the engines on all the bikes.” Ace said, squashing the body of one of ‘them insects’ which had crawled inside his Sky Cycle. “Looks like we’re walking home.”

Vri’kal glanced towards Donthar and then nodded. “Fine, get him up and let’s get moving. Ace, if he so much as tries to make a break for it you shoot his legs out from under him and let me handle it with Blue later.”

“Suits me, boss.” Ace grabbed a length of chain attached to Donthar’s manacle and tugged at them. “Up you get, tubby.” He produced a blaster in his free hand and gestured with it. “You heard me! Up!”

Donthar glared at the Planet Jacker, this one much smaller than the one that had chased him and Rush up the tower and across a semi constructed bridge. He pushed himself up and began to move with the trio of mercenaries, the street around them silent save for the clinking of his chains.

“We lost a lot of good people trying to fetch you, slave.” Vri’kal said, walking next to Donthar. “They were my crew, my friends, and by the gods you will regret each and every life you took by the time I ship you home to your master.”

Donthar turned his head and spat on Vri’kal’s coat. “He ain’t my master!” He snapped. “And I ain’t a slave! So pardon me if’n I didn’t quite feel keen on bein’ dragged back to Blue Balls and his creepy psycho mate!”

The back of Vri’kal’s hand met the side of his face and knocked Donthar on his side.

“You listen carefully, slave.” Vri’kal hissed, kneeling over Donthar and pressing his face into the ground with one hand on his head. “I don’t care about what you want or what Blue even wants. I lost most of my friends today and the only thing keeping me from putting a bullet in your skull is the fact that I don’t want the last two members of my crew to put up with being hunted down by Blue. Annoy me enough and I might just forget that and do it anyways! So shut. Your. MOUTH!”

She tugged him back up and shoved him ahead. “Had enough of this damn planet and the Empire for one life time!”

Donthar rubbed his face where he’d been slapped. The pain was nothing compared to the guilt weighing on him and the memory of the now deceased assassin who had gone out of his way to help Donthar. When he had first been captured by Blue it had been Zef and Fren who had almost died because of him, and now Rush was laying dead at the bottom of a shaft that reached gods knew how far under the ground, never to be found again.

Xxx

Hospital Sublevels

Dark. Everywhere. It closed in around him, suffocated him, pulled him down from the light...

The light...

Irk to Rush! This is your nine oh clock alarm call!

It was bright now, too bright!

Wake up! Why! Won’t! You! Wake up?!

It was blinding...what was hitting him in the face?

Rush opened his eyes just as a tiny metallic hand struck him in the cheek.

That’s for dragging out this round instead of just killing Donthar!” Chrome declared before slapping him again. “That’s for being an overly sensitive sap! That’s for making me love you! That’s for making me hate you! That’s for making me reference human videogames!

With one hand Rush grasped the drone’s extended arm and stopped his next strike cold. He glared at Chrome for several seconds before releasing the drone’s hand.

...

Slap!

And that was for shits and giggles.” Chrome said, rising up out of reach quickly. “Seriously Rush, you don’t have time to be laying around! Those scavengers just made off with your opponent!

Opponent...Donthar!

Rush began to rise only to collapsed onto his back as pain racked every one of his limbs. A muted breath was expelled from his lungs before he began to gasp, feeling the results of his fall from the thirteenth floor.

Oh, well, of course you should maybe take a minute to recover, yeah.” Chrome admitted. “But I wouldn’t wait too long! You wouldn’t want to win this round by default, right? Seriously, people give you such flack for that and I’m the schmuck who would need to receive all that hate mail and pass it on to you.

Everything came rushing back to him now. The fight, the Planet Jacker, the Irken with the rifle...and Donthar, poor Donthar who would be dragged back to Blue to be clapped in chains after only just having a taste of freedom and would never be given another chance at breaking his chains.

Poor Donthar...who was on his way back to Blue because of Rush, who had failed in his mission to protect the Vortian, and now hadn’t even a merciful death to numb his loss.

...Rush?” Chrome meekly tried to get his attention. “Aren’t you...going to get up? Do something?

Rush shut his eyes again and slowly sat up, exhaling heavily again. He looked at Chrome with exhausted eyes and then bowed his head a bit.

What? A-are you kidding me?” Chrome stated in disbelief, “You’re just...giving up like that?

Rush slowly rose to his feet and looked around the elevator shaft. He had dropped much further than the ground floor like he’d initially believed. The nearest pair of doors were at least four stories up from him. In his prime condition he could have easily scaled the distance, but now...and with so much time lost, would there be any point? Donthar must have already been taken off world.

Rush...I know you weren’t really trying to kill Donthar.” Chrome confessed, drawing a surprised glance from the assassin. “Who do you think I am? That stupid panty waist drone named Val? I have the intellect that your organic gods gave a peach and that puts me far above her type. I know that you were trying to save him...and  I think that’s actually a decent thing to do.

The drone slowly descended to his level. “Don’t get me wrong, watching you meat bags rip into each other makes for a good laugh but...they rarely show that sort of integrity. And you...you’re supposed to be a cold blooded killer but I’m actually questioning whether you’ve intentionally killed any other contestants in this season. You aren’t in this for money or fame...and I think that’s why if any meat bag deserves to walk out of this with their head attached it’s you.

Chrome tilted his body on its axis, mimicking the act of one tilting their head. “And based on a lot of the fan reviews I think a lot of people out there agree with me. You might not, but they’ve seen a side of you that most other people who enter this fight would rather bury than let out. They come for the money, for the fame and even for fun but you...you’re here for somebody else, and you’ve put yourself on the line for Donthar and Kidderance. You didn’t just give in...you made your own way.

The drone began to rise again, stopping at the open elevator doors far above. “So...why don’t you just give it one more try? If not for Donthar, then for the people who might be waiting for him..and the people who might be waiting for you right now.” He said, “I’ll be waiting up here while you thin on that...I’ll wait as long as I need to until you climb out on your own...if you ever do.

Then he passed between the doors, leaving Rush in the dark.

Pondering the drone’s words, Rush sank into a seated position against a wall of the shaft and winced as a fresh wave of pain shot through him. He squeezed his eyes shut and slammed one fist down onto the top of the elevator car in frustration.

The people waiting for Donthar...

Zef, the Raiders, Wrath, countless members of the Syndicate and maybe more.

He had many friends who would be watching now, despairing at the Vortian’s chances.

The people waiting for Rush...

The Infarai, his adoptive family and the people who had taken him in and given him opportunities no other alien before him had been granted.

Xavia and her family, who had become like his own in every way that counted.

Zavior and his son Oxy who had formed a bond with Rush over their shared condition.

Xavia and her daughter Nebba, who had become the daughter he’d never had.

Were they all watching now? Did they shake their heads in shame at his surrender? It would have been better if he’d just died.

It would have been better if the Infarai had never pulled him out of the crashed smeetery ship, if they’d never made him Dark Dweller.

Xxx

“Ruushan, born of Irk and kindred to the Deep Ones, you have come far and endured more than most in your journey to this moment in time.”

They stood around him, their faces shadowed by hoods. He had felt like he was on trial more than anything else.

“Now you have but one final choice to make here today. Do you accept the burden and honour of those who dwell on the verge of darkness? Will you take the title of Dark Dweller and take up arms in defence of your people, no matter what tribe they come from?”

He looked one last time over his shoulder and saw them standing at the entrance of the chamber. His mother, his father...his siblings...many of them looking distressed and concerned for him already. His mother smiled warmly at him, encouraging him, assuring him that all would be well no matter what he chose.

A single nod, and his destiny was decided from that day forward.

“Ruushan, born of Irk and kindred to the Deep Ones, you have willfully undertaken an ordeal which will one day claim your life, but your name shall forever be remembered by all of our people along the others who have tread the edge of darkness.”

The elder stepped down and cupped both sides of his face, tilting his head up.

From this day forth, you are Dark Dweller. You shall forsake all attachments, forsake ever returning home.

A black oily liquid was poured over him and rubbed in.

Your place is between light and dark, defending against those who would subjugate and destroy life for their own gain.

A hilt was offered to him, and he withdrew his Shock Knife for the first time.

“No words will ever describe our gratitude to you for this act and for all that you shall do.”

The elder turned away.

“Nor will they convey our regret, for we have, all of us, just sealed your fate.”

Xxx

He’d made a vow that day. It was to more than just a collection of old men or his tribe. It was to all who suffered by the hands of cruel masters, to all who had their lives and freedoms stripped from them.

He had made a vow.

There would be no straying from it even now, at his lowest point.

Rush saw the hilt of his Shock Knife resting a few feet away and picked it up. There was just enough of the blade left that he was able to slide it into its sheathe where the fabric latched on and held it in place as though the whole blade remained. Then he withdrew his sword and pressed the tip to the metal roof beneath him, using it to push himself up in spite of the protests of his muscles and bones.

Lay down and die, Dark Dweller! Lay down and die!

He blocked out these sensations and stood upright on both feet again. It was an ordeal in itself, but nothing he hadn’t done before.

Lay down and die! Let the pain end! Give in!

Rush looked up towards the light streaming into the shaft through the doors above.

He moved his mouth, and though no sound emerged, to him the single word may as well have echoed through the shaft like the roar of a horn.

“Never.”

Xxx

Downtown, en route to freighter Flotsam

Twenty minutes later

“Just another mile to go and we’ll be clear.” Hale reported from the front.

The procession from the hospital to the Flotsam had felt like it had already taken hours to the three mercenaries and their prisoner. The sun was reaching the height of its arch and would soon begin a slow descent into the horizon, taking with it the safety against any nocturnal predators which called the sewers and buildings home. With the relatively flat terrain it was at least easy to move about, especially for Donthar who was hobbled by the restraints on his lower legs.

“Can’t wait to get out of here,” Ace said, walking with the end of the chain linking him to Donthar hanging at his side. “More importantly, can’t wait to find out how we’re splitting that reward now that we’re down five guys and who gets to have whose rooms-”

Beep-beep!

Ace stopped and slowly looked down at a satchel hanging off of his armour on his hip. He reached in and pulled out a data pad, examining the screen. “...shit.”

“What is it?” Hale asked.

“I left the drones back at the hospital to make sure the assassin was dead,” Ace explained, turning the screen to show his two crewmates a recording. “Looks like he’s harder to kill than we thought.”

Donthar perked up a bit at this news. “Rush? He’s alive?”

The screen showed the front entrance of the hospital. Standing in the open doorway was Rush, who used his sword as a walking stick to make up for a badly depleted balance. The assassin’s coat flapped in the wind a bit as he descended the hospital steps.

Suddenly he was looking right at the drone, which had been left hovering about thirty feet off of the ground. A frown crossed his face while one hand slipped beneath his coat and produced his blaster.

DOW!

The feed was lost.

“He’s alive!” Donthar laughed. “Hot damn!”

Vri’kal took Donthar’s chain from the Planet Jacker. “Ace, I want you to set up somewhere close to here and wait for him to come through.” She commanded, giving a harsh tug to silence Donthar while almost making him face plant on the ground. “He’ll find us, I know it. But he’s wounded and more importantly he’ll be slow and clumsy.”

Ace nodded. “Don’t need to tell me twice, boss.” He unfolded his rifle. “But just so you know I want an extra cut in return for bringing his head to you.” He added before taking off.

Hale looked at Vri’kal and saw how shaken she looked. The sight of the assassin alive and walking after she’d knocked him down a shaft upwards of ten stories in height would have disturbed or even frightened anyone. There were any number of legends to equate this to: men who would not die even after suffering wounds that would have slain ten thousand others, warriors who ignored all pain and damage until their foe lay dead, demons who would continue to rise from the dead and pursue their grudge...

And he was beginning to wonder if Rush would become the inspiration for one such legend in the far future after this.

“Come on! We keep moving.” Vri’kal tugged Donthar along. “Hale, when we get to the ship I want you to stand guard outside while I secure the slave.”

Hale nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” He said before looking over his shoulder. “...you don’t expect Ace to win, do you?”

Vri’kal didn’t answer him.

The silence spoke more than any number of honeyed words.

Xxx

Ace whistled softly as he stepped out onto the balcony of a restaurant overlooking the plaza where he had separated from his crew. He pulled up one abandoned chair and plopped down in it, then he raised his rifle up and unfolded a bipod so that it could lean on the balcony’s railing.

“Ah...it’s things like this that I live for.” Ace sighed, “Now to play the waiting game.”

The position was perfect. Six stories up, perfect view of the plaza and every entrance that wasn’t blocked off by rubble or crashed wrecks and a perch that gave him plenty of room to maneuver and change up his firing vector; most snipers wouldn’t use it in a war zone, but he wasn’t in a warzone, he was in a concrete and metal jungle with only one predator to worry about.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are...” Ace whispered, scanning the plaza. “Show me those pretty eyes.”

He had called back the other drones and ordered them to scour the surrounding area. None of them had reported back, but he knew that it was only a matter of time until-

Beep-beep!

Ace checked his data pad again. “Oh, bingo.” He grinned beneath his mask as one drone identified Rush limping down a street that would carry him right into the open. “Come to Ace, big boy.”

The assassin was approaching where the street opened up into the plaza. An airship of some kind had crashed and caused a structure on his left to crumble, spilling metal fragments and thousands of glass shards into the street. Rush stopped by one of the crumpled wings which formed a ramp from the street up into the building and stared out at the wide open space ahead.

“Come on, just a few steps forward and then you can smile for the camera.” Ace whispered, licking his lips beneath his mask. “Come on...come on!”

Rush leaned on his sword for a few seconds...and whipped around. The only thing Ace saw on the screen was the flourish of the Irken’s coat followed by a single blaster bolt. The discharge echoed throughout the plaza.

“Damn it.” Ace growled and rerouted the two remaining drones, but Rush was gone by then. “Inside...he’s inside!”

He peered at the building which the makeshift ramp led up into and watched the windows for movement. Ace was so tensed up that the moment he saw a flash of movement he squeezed the trigger.

CRACK!

 Miss. A crappy miss too. He only hit bare wall.

“Damn it!”

Exposed. He’d given himself away like some amateur.

“Come on, come!” Ace tried to keep pace with Rush, but barely saw a glimpse of him in the edge of his sights.

Suddenly an idea struck him. Ace grabbed the data pad and programmed the drone to utilize echo location to lock onto Rush.

A few seconds. An eternity to him.

The feeds showed an empty building. The scan became harder to read further in.

Each ping was loud enough to be heard for a mile. Too much warning. Rush could time his movements.

“FUCK!” Ace threw the data pad down. “Come on!”

CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

More shots. More near hits.

Close, but no cigar.

Click!

Out of ammo.

Ace knelt and began to scramble for one of the spare clips, fumbled and dropped one.

“Crap crap crap crap-!”

Click! Locked and loaded.

Ace grinned and stood up, facing the doors behind him that led inside. “Gotcha now! Go ahead, come on out. Come right on-”

A pair of hands gripped the sides of his head.

“-out!”

CRACK!

The rifle clattered to the ground. Ace remained standing for another beat and fell with it. He fell face down, but his head was turned around so far that he was left eternally staring up into the sky.

Rush exhaled and climbed over the balcony’s railing. Ace had backed up close enough for him to grab on and end the confrontation nice and quick after climbing up. He’d broke cover when he heard the ruckus Ace had made trying to reload. Even with only one glove and his body bruised to the brink of shattering it had been easy to climb the outside of the building without making a noise.

The data pad laying close by caught his eye. Rush picked it up and flicked through the various options for commands to issue to the two remaining drones which hovered out in the plaza. He rubbed his chin as a plan formed in his head.

Six down. Two left.

Xxx

Freighter Flotsam

No word from Ace yet, ma’am.

Vri’kal finished chaining Donthar down to one of the pipes in the cargo bay. Without a proper brig she was forced to improvise.

“He’s dead.” She said without hesitating. “Be ready. Rush is coming.”

Donthar tugged at the pipe. It went from the floor and halfway up a wall before curving into the surface. His hand cuff chain was looped around it, but the restraints on his legs had been removed. He grunted as he pressed one leg to the wall and pushed with all of his might, trying to pry the pipe loose.

“Yeah, he’s comin’ alright,” He glared at Vri’kal over his shoulder. “And yer gonna wish yah’d never even came here when he’s done with yah.”

Vri’kal slapped him on the back of the head. “Colour me intimidated, slave.”

She left him alone and stood by the cargo bay hatch which lay wide open. She could see Hale standing guard almost a hundred meters away, keeping watch on the only path that led through the twisting foliage and half demolished neighbourhood to the freighter’s landing site. He raised one hand and nodded, signalling her to close the hatch. Once the ship was sealed tightly Vri’kal crossed her arms and smirked.

“He won’t be getting past Hale,” She said, “If he does I’ll be ready for him.”

Donthar watched as she moved to a set of controls and plugged her PAK into them.

Vri’kal opened up an interface and typed in her command authorization code. “Access firing controls for point defence cannons.”

Donthar’s heart sank as he realized her plan.

Simple, brutal, yet effective.

Xxx

Hale stepped into the center of the path and reached for his belt. In each hand he produced a small object which extended until both formed into curved swords. He tested their weights, spun each in his grasp and took some practice swings.

Still in perfect form.

And just when he most badly needed to be.

Like many other Vortians, Hale had a tale to tell, a list of adventures dating back to or even before the day that the Irken Empire enslaved his people. He had friends, enemies, romantic encounters and meetings in the shadows with people whose names and faces he would never know. He’d faced against warriors many years his senior, fought in battles that were known across the galaxy in the role of a mere grunt and battled arm in arm with famous generals. Vri’kal had been with him for all of that time and he had come to trust her with his life.

That was why he’d agreed to this, in spite of the madness that had taken hold of her.

She was hurting from the loss of her crew, and the only remedy would be vengeance on Rush. Only that would help her to even begin with moving on.

For her to walk the road to recovery Rush needed to die.

...

Easier said than done.

CLANG!

...

But he’d try none the less.

Rush had made his attack from above. A quick leap from the branches and he sliced downwards. Hale stepped out from under the attack while turning the sword away from his body.

Rush rolled, shot back up and the two circled one another.

“You’re good, but your wounds have dulled your experience.” Hale pointed one blade towards Rush.

This action drew attention away from the sword hanging at his side, which Hale flipped around so that the blade paralleled his forearm.

“Die well, assassin.” Hale said, saluting him.

And then they clashed. Rush grasped his sword with both hands and opened downwards chop which Hale parried easily, and then batted aside with his second sword held in a reverse grip. The blow had more power behind it and knocked Rush off balance.

Opening!

Hale struck out at Rush’s side and was parried while Rush twisted away. Hale’s momentum carried him past the rotating Irken.

Thud! Rush’s boot connected with Hale’s ribs and knocked him back a few steps. The Vortian recovered quickly and crossed both of his swords to parry the next strike at his abdomen. He twisted and forced Rush’s sword up before head butting the assassin in the face.

Rush moved with the blow, reduced the effect and leapt back far enough to avoid Hale’s next attack. His vision cleared as he continued too dart backwards, and then quickly advanced and cut upwards. Sparks flew as he was blocked and then forced to quickly parry several savage slashes from Hale and then slide out of reach.

Change of strategy.

Hale moved his arms in a pattern that allowed him to strike with one sword after the other in a continuous stream. Rush barely avoided a cut across his face and quickly parried the next. As Hale’s left arm began to rise up Rush lifted his right leg and pressed his foot to Hale’s bicep, stopping the third strike.  Then he kicked Hale in the jaw with the same foot and retracted his leg as the Vortian swung for the limb.

The strikes came faster. It was all Rush could do to simply avoid or parry them. When one wide slash came at him low from the left he positioned his sword to block it and then swept his blade up along the length of Hale’s.

Strike!

Hale back flipped out of range and checked himself over for damage. A deep cut had been made in the armour on his chest, deep enough to draw some blood. He chuckled and nodded as though approving of Rush drawing the first blood.

Then he took his revenge quickly.

Close up and personal again. Lightning fast slices from multiple directions. Rush overreached once and found his sword arm trapped under Hale’s shoulder. The Vortian flipped his sword around and tried to drive it backwards, past his torso and into Rush’s. Rush brought his free hand up and grabbed Hale’s arm, but then the one trapping his sword hand released him and an elbow was driven back into his face. Hale spun free and kicked Rush back, making him slide in the dirt while barely maintaining his footing.

Rush clenched his teeth and went on the offensive again. Hale slid his left arm behind his own back and waited until Rush was close enough. He twisted and presented the tip of his left sword, pointed right at Rush who would have run into it if he hadn’t dodged to the side and cut Hale across the shoulder blade.

“Hnn!”

He dropped one sword.

“Very good...just as I’d expect from someone like you,” Hale flipped his remaining blade into a reverse grip and struck a new stance. “Keep at it then!”

Xxx

Vri’kal watched the battle through the external hull cameras, pacing impatiently  while gazing at the multiple screens. Hale seemed to be evenly matched with the assassin.

“Just give me enough space to make the shot,” She urged her XO. “Just five feet and a couple seconds and he’ll be gone.”

Donthar continued to tug at the pipe, feeling the cuffs dig into his wrists. His struggles became more frantic as the idea of returning to Blue made him remember everything that had been done to him in the single year he had spent as a slave. So many humiliations, demeaning things, painful things...

And all of that only made him remember the years spent in prison for nothing more than being born a Vortian.

Vri’kal didn’t hear the pipe groan.

Xxx

Rush spun and rammed the heel of his boot into Hale’s face.

Blood spurted from the mouth and dribbled down the Vortian’s chin as he countered by ramming the hilt of his sword into Rush’s shoulder. Fresh agony shot up from that location, but Rush blocked it out.

He grabbed Hale’s sword arm and forced it down while dropping his own weapon. Rush looped his legs around Hale’s arm and across his shoulders, forcing Hale into a forward roll which disarmed him. Hale used the momentum of the throw to roll out of range of Rush.

“NOW CAPTAIN!” Hale shouted.

Xxx

“Yes!” Vri’kal cackled and gripped the firing controls.

“NO!” Donthar shrieked.

The pipe came free of the wall and began to wobble on its floor mount.

The point defence cannons fired...and the ship rumbled as the two aft mounted turrets exploded.

“What?!” Vri’kal accessed the cameras and rewound them to show what had happened.

The turrets had been charging, but two objects had lodged themselves into the firing barrels...

Ace’s drones!

Vri’kal bristled with fury as she reached for the door controls. “Fuck it, I’ll end this myself-”

The pipe tore free of the floor, and Donthar’s infuriated cry filled the room. Vri’kal turned just in time to be tackled around the waist by the furious little Vortian.

Xxx

The plan had worked perfectly. The aft guns on the ship exploded, meaning that was one more threat off of his list.

Hale covered his head as several pieces of shrapnel landed around them. Rush rolled behind a thick, severed tree branch and waited several moments before rising. Hale was unharmed save for a few scratches, and was staring at the pillars of smoke rising from the Flotsam.

“Amazing,” Hale shook his head, “How much trouble one person could cause us for one slave.”

Rush stepped out from behind the branch and opened his Holo-Interface, all the while watching Hale carefully. -I would think that a Vortian would be more sympathetic towards slaves.-

Hale shook his head. “I’ve no love for the trade, but I stopped weeping over the victims of it long before Vort fell to your hordes.”

-Such a shame.- Rush typed. -That one as devoted as you would be made numb to that which should be cherished.-

“Is that why you are fighting so hard for this slave?” Hale asked. “Because you cherish freedom? Are we fighting a war of ideology right now?”

-I never wished to fight, but you forced my hand.- Rush replied. -I offer you this now, stand aside and let me return Donthar to his friends. In return you and your Captain may still leave here alive.-

Hale looked between him and the Flotsam. “Something tell me that that won’t be on the table,” He answered, “I think we both know just how this needs to end, assassin. I think you’ve known from the moment you entered this tournament that mercy would not be an option.”

He glanced off to the side where he saw a ripple in the air, the indication of a stealth field. “Besides,” Hale lowered his voice, “We need to give the Empire its pound of flesh.”

Before Rush could react the Vortian kicked one of his blades up off of the ground and caught it while spinning around. In the blink of an eye Hale released the curved sword, sending it spinning towards Rush and sinking it into his left shoulder.

Rush took a moment for the pain the register, giving Hale the time he needed to move in and jam his palm down on the hilt, driving the sword deeper into the Irken. Rush cringed and gripped the hilt with his opposite hand, leaving himself open to several more blows.

One to the face, another to the abdomen and then an elbow to the jaw, knocking him down.

Hale reached down and pressed one knee to Rush’s chest, gripping the sword by the hilt. “Like I told you,” He said through clenched teeth, twisting the sword and watching as Rush’s mouth opened in a muted scream. “Mercy was never an option-”

TZZZZZZ!

Hale was flung back. His hands and knee burned, the fabric of his clothes was torched where he’d been touching Rush. The sword had been torn free and taken with him.

Rush was climbing to his feet, coated in a glowing energy field from head to toe. In one hand he was holding something...a hilt without a blade. Hale had studied footage of previous rounds and remembered this energy field, how it amplified his attacks and served as a shield simultaneously.

Even without its blade the Shock Knife still worked.

Hale struggled to rise. Being electrocuted made it difficult to keep control of his limbs.

It was just the opening Rush needed.

Fifteen seconds, that was all he needed.

He moved forward, crossing the distance to his opponent as quickly as he could.

Twelve seconds.

Rush struck out, ramming one knee up into Hale’s ribs. The Vortian gasped and leaned back, leaving his front exposed to a jab and then a round house kick that knocked him on his back.

Nine seconds.

Rush leapt forward and planted one knee down on Hale’s chest, delivering electrical shocks directly to him through there and then directly to his skull by gripping it with one hand.

The seconds counted down, and before the field dissipated Hale’s body stopped twitching. Rush released the limp body and exhaled heavily. He placed one hand over his latest injury and stood up.

Seven down, one left.

And that one was perhaps the worst of them all.

Rush heard the sound of the ship’s cargo hatch open. He pulled out his blaster and brought it to bear on the cargo ramp as it was lowered down, expecting to see Vri’kal with her massive rifle again.

Instead he saw Donthar, taking unsteady steps down the ramp with a bloodstained pipe in hand and a haunted look in his eyes. The Vortian saw Rush and dropped the pipe, letting it hit the ramp with a ‘clang’ of metal against metal. He had a set of cuffs still binding his wrists in front of him.

“Rush, I...” Donthar looked back up into the cargo bay. “I...killed her.”

He turned his eyes down to the bloody pipe. “She had me chained up. I-I broke the pipe and-” Helet out a shuddering breath as the assassin approached him. “I couldn’t stand bein’ sent back to Blue. I just snapped!”

Rush placed a gentle hand on Donthar’s shoulder.

“Please,” Donthar pleaded, “I just...want to go home now. Please?”

Rush nodded and looked to where Chrome made himself visible. He opened his interface and typed a message for Donthar.

-We need another commercial break.- Rush typed, -And enough time for my people to do a little editing on the footage.-

Xxx

Outer Irk

Syndicate Headquarters, Head Office

The office belonging to the commander, CEO or even ‘ruler’ of Outer Irk and the Syndicate was surprisingly Spartan. Most others would decorate their work place with extravagant art and furniture, but Risk had settled for a simple desk with a few holo-projectors with multiple applications and a few chairs for guests. Currently three of these were occupied by some of the few people privileged with uninhibited entry to the office.

“The Infarai aren’t exactly forthcoming in how their manipulating the footage from Rush and Donthar’s round.” A red eyed Irken with a number of visible cybernetics said, “All we know is that they’re able to pull some strings to have the broadcast switch away from them for brief periods to allow Rush to arrange false deaths such as he did with Kid.”

Risk turned in his seat to face the three and folded his hands on his desk. “Keep pressing them for an answer, but don’t do anything to interfere with their signal manipulation just in case this pays off.”

The second of the trio was an Irken woman who was anxiously gripping the arms of her chair. “Why won’t they tell us anything?” She asked. “Why would they hide info on this fight from you of all people?”

Risk wished that he had the answer to that, but any that came to mind were not the sort which inspired confidence in Donthar returning to them.

“It’ll be alright, Zef.” The third Irken, a teal eyed man said as he held the woman’s hand. “If they’re at all like Rush then they’d only be staying silent for a good reason.”

The answer did not seem to satisfy Zef, who squeezed her husband’s hand tightly. “I still don’t like it.”

Risk knew that Zef and the Infarai wouldn’t get along for many reasons. One hated being kept in the dark, the other lived for keeping people in the dark, and both were right in their own ways to believe and behave as they did. Issues like this had plagued the Syndicate and he had only kept order by keeping groups such as the Raiders and the Infarai as far from one another as possible to avoid conflict. As long as they benefited from their membership in the Syndicate and weren’t forced to work with people they found disagreeable there had never been an issue...until today.

Zef had not been as confident in Rush saving Donthar due to his specialty as an assassin, and had been constantly demanding more updates on the actual plan to get her friend out of the tournament and back to Ekeri. Risk would have been annoyed if he hadn’t shared her worries. Donthar was his friend too, only Risk was able to better regulate his feelings on the matter. It didn’t help that this was a more personal matter for Zef, who held herself responsible for Donthar’s enslavement.

Sir, we are receiving an updated feed.

A silhouette composed of thousands of shards of light formed on Risk’s desk, resembling an Irken similar to him in appearance.

The Infarai are resuming live transmission following some doctored footage they have constructed.” Thrill informed the group.

“They always are the best at that.” Risk nodded. “Let’s see it. Put it on the main screen.”

The office dimmed as the main screen lit up to show the doctored footage first...footage of Rush and Donthar fighting. Donthar was swinging his crowbar, Rush was moving out of the way or easily parried the strikes. One swing accidentally hit the camera drone, making it lose the signal for a few seconds before the broadcast resumed. It picked back up with Rush pinning Donthar to the ground while the energy field projected by his Shock Knife was active. He had his hands on the Vortian’s head and Donthar was writhing beneath him.

Zef instinctively gasped in horror at the sight, and Fren began to rub her back soothingly with one hand.

The camera zoomed in as Rush stood up and moved aside, focusing on the frozen expression of agony on Donthar’s face. Colorful letters immediately crossed the screen.

Rush V Donthar! RUSH WINS!

The footage was replaced by commentary from news stations and administrators.

“It was doctored footage, Zef.” Fren assured his wife. “They probably just set it up to look real and did some editing to add in that last part.”

Perhaps you will be able to find out, I am receiving a transmission on the frequency reserved for Infarai operatives.” Thrill informed them.

“Put them on then.” Risk nodded.

The main screen blinked out and then began to short a distorted visual transmission which slowly cleared up.

“Hey! That better have been faked!” Zef shouted, shooting to her feet. “I swear if Rush hurt Donthar I’ll-”

Yowch! I’ll bill yah for the new hearin’ aid, Zef!” A familiar voice shouted. “Seriously, nice to see you too!

Zef froze. “D-Donthar...?” She asked shakily.

The transmission cleared enough to show a grin she hadn’t seen in almost a year. “The one and only!” Donthar declared as he appeared before them, wearing a set of shorts as well as a pair of new goggles. “Comin’ to you live from...uh...the hell is this tug called again? The uh...Flotsam? Oh wow they scraped the bottom’o the barrel with that name.

“DONTHAR!” Zef shouted, rushing up to the main screen. “It’s really you!”

You bet it is! And I’m comin’ home, Zef.” Donthar nodded. “I’m sure yah saw me and Rush put on that little performance for the camera. He said his people would make it look convincing. Was it?

“All too authentic.” Risk nodded with a smile. “It’ll be good to have you back among us, Donthar. Outer Irk is closer to your location, I’ll have a ship meet up with you as soon as possible.”

Thanks a ton, Risk.” Donthar said, “This ship’s a piece’o junk I tell yah. Can’t wait to get back to workin’ on some real quality hardware with you guys again.

Zef was practically jumping up and down now, beaming at the prospect of being reunited with her oldest friend. “I can’t believe it! He really did it?!”

Donthar’s response was to hold up the two decorative bracelets he’d been forced to wear under Blue’s ownership. “This answer your question?” He dropped them both to the floor. “No more fancy silk shit or gold trinkets fer me!

He looked over at Risk. “Tell Rush’s people that I appreciate the hand, Risk.

“Can do,” Risk replied. “You just get yourself back here in one piece and we’ll have a deal.”

Can do!” Donthar saluted, “Well, I’d better shut down fer now, don’t wanna chance some Imp vessel pickin’ this up.

“We already have your coordinates and the nearest ship is about two hours out.” Risk informed him. “Welcome back to the Syndicate Donthar, we look forward to greeting you in person. Syndicate command, over and out.”

Gotcha! Bye!” Donthar said before cutting the transmission.

Zef threw her arms around Fren in a hug and kissed him on the cheek. “He’s coming back! He’s coming back!” She cried, and was lifted into her husband’s arms before being spun around.

Rine nodded, watching the couple celebrate with a smile. “Blue’s gonna be pissed about this when he finds out.”

“Agreed,” Risk kept his voice low so that Zef wouldn’t hear him, “So tell that ship to triple time it to Donthar. There’s still a chance of an Imperial ship picking him up. Get it done and let’s wrap this up before it turns around on us.”

Rine nodded. “I’ll handle it.” He said and quickly departed.

Risk sat back down and watched as Zef and Fren continued to celebrate. On the outside he smiled and shared in the moment silently, on the inside he still considered a thousand ways it could go wrong.

Xxx

The Planet

Zone One: The City

En route to city border

The sun was beginning to dip in the sky now as Rush walked with a slight limp, his sword and its scabbard still serving as a walking stick. Several insects scurried across his path, rendered harmless now that his round was completed.

Real shame about Donthar, y’know.” Chrome commented. “Yep, true and mighty shame that he had to die.

Rush smiled and nodded his head a bit.

So I guess that leaves us with...what, one, two more rounds?” Chrome wondered, rotating his body clockwise as he kept pace with the Irken. “You’re pretty beat up after all of that. You might want to take it easy for just a bit.

Rush nodded again and leaned against a rusting vehicle. The day’s events were finally catching up to him, and his body was demanding that he take time to recuperate.

Chrome stopped and looked at him. “...there’s an old hotel nearby that’s free of bio signs and has a solar power collector, probably water too. You could probably lay low there.” He offered.

Surprised, Rush looked up at the drone and typed out a message for it.

-Thank you.-

Eh, gotta keep you walking or I get scrapped later on.” Chrome replied, giving his own version of a shrug. “So come on, let’s get you laying down so you can heal up as much as you can. It won’t do to have you dead on your feet for the next round.

Rush followed after him, struggling with each step and yet not minding the ordeal. His body felt like it had endured a trial by fire and barely come through intact...

And yet he felt better than he had in years, like some great burden had been lifted from him. Maybe it had to do with rescuing Donthar, maybe not.

Either way, it felt good and he didn’t mind being blasted down an elevator shaft to reach this point.

...

Not that he’d like to repeat it.

Even he had his limits.

Xxx

End of Round 3

The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part Four
Part 4 of 4

Risk, Rine, Fren and the crew of the Flotsam belong to me

Donthar and Zef belongs to :iconheavenbat:

Blue belongs to :iconprojecthalfbreed:

:iconthe-bloodsport:

LINKS
Part 1  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: The Re-Re CullingThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part One: Acquaintances
Zone One: The City
Downtown
Those who had once dwelled here must have come far before being struck down by whatever had rendered ‘That Planet’ mostly lifeless. The only city to exist on the sole continent told much of its creators by what they had left behind when they had either departed for the stars...or had been struck down somehow.
Vast towers still stood the gauntlet of time and nature, resisting the efforts of powerful winds, violent storms, periodically rising sea levels and the large animals that were more common to this world to buckle their supports. Between them large domes expanded upwards into view, their crystalline carapace cracked yet still reflecting the sunlight brilliantly as the yellow glow of the singular star rose on the eastern horizon. The lower reaches of the city were concealed by a mist originating from the coastline

Part 2  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part TwoThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Two: Conspiracies
Zone One: The City
Downtown
“So...you really can’t speak?” Donthar asked, trudging along next to Rush through a wide open plaza encircling a fountain. “At all?”
Rush nodded, but what he typed was of a completely different topic. -If I am going to free you, I first need to be certain that Blue has no way of tracking or recapturing you. Can I assume that those bands you wear around your arms are used as a sort of restraint when activated remotely?-
“Aw I dunno,” Donthar sighed and rapped his crowbar twice against a car they were passing. “I meant it wouldn’t surprise me if my luck was that bad.”
In the half hour since they had started searching for a clothing store the two had quickly formed a system of secretly communicating even as they exchanged idle chit chat

Part 3  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part ThreeThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Three: Downfall
Zone One: The City
Downtown, Abandoned Hospital, Level Five
Two hours later
While most of the city had fallen to the forces of nature, the hospitals appeared to have fared better due to being better sealed against the outside world. Reinforced doors and windows kept plants and animals from establishing themselves much further than the outer rooms and the lobby. The rest of the building had been pillaged at varying points by scavengers much like the trio of Venirans which Rush and Donthar had encountered hours ago.
“Well, on the bright side I don’t need to put up with Val anymore.” Donthar said, laying on his front.
I know, right?!” Chrome cried ecstatically, spinning around as he circled the Vortian. “Sweet, sweet freedom at last!
Rush approached with a needle


NOTE: As per the condition of this round I had Rush go through the 'fall' phase in Part Three, and undergo the act of climbing back up both physically and spiritually in this part.
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The Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling

Xxx

Part Three: Downfall

Zone One: The City

Downtown, Abandoned Hospital, Level Five

Two hours later

While most of the city had fallen to the forces of nature, the hospitals appeared to have fared better due to being better sealed against the outside world. Reinforced doors and windows kept plants and animals from establishing themselves much further than the outer rooms and the lobby. The rest of the building had been pillaged at varying points by scavengers much like the trio of Venirans which Rush and Donthar had encountered hours ago.

“Well, on the bright side I don’t need to put up with Val anymore.” Donthar said, laying on his front.

I know, right?!” Chrome cried ecstatically, spinning around as he circled the Vortian. “Sweet, sweet freedom at last!

Rush approached with a needle and a length of thread in one hand, and a bottle of alcohol in the other. He set them down and typed a message for Donthar. -And now with only Chrome observing us it may be far easier for us to execute our plan.-

“Yeah!” Donthar nodded. “Two birds with one stone!”

The Vortian then let out a yelp as he felt the needle being inserted into the flesh around one of his many cuts. He gripped the bed he was laying on tightly and muffled his own groans of discomfort as Rush began to disinfect and stitch up the worst of the cuts scarring the Vortian’s bare back.

“Nnnnngh!” Donthar groaned as his eyes watered. “A little warnin’ next time!”

The one bright side to this whole mess was that they’d finally found him some pants in one of the locker rooms. Now the revealing attire that Donthar had been forced to wear was torn up into many strips to be used as bandages and the bracelets which had functioned as tracking devices lay snapped open in a corner. The tattered and dusty green trousers had required the legs to be cut until they resembled shorts, but now Donthar could at least take pride in the fact that he’d rid himself of the humiliating attire.

Once the camera was back on Donthar would need to don the bracelets again for appearance’s sake, but Rush had made short work of the security programming to allow them to be removed and deactivated at will. To any who tracked Donthar with them it would seem as if he had expired and the bracelets damaged beyond function.

Now all that remained was to put on a good show for the cameras.

Xxx

City Sector, two miles away

“They’re in one of these two towers here.” Ace said, pointing in the distance to the twin hospital buildings connected by multiple bridges in varying states of use, some still solid and others now completely shattered. “They connect at the ground level so I don’t know which one they could have gone into.”

Doc rubbed his chin as he analyzed the structures. “Unlikely to find abundance of medical supplies beyond basic tools. Likely using this for brief recovery period.” He turned towards Vri’kal. “They may be vulnerable, temporarily.”

Their Captain hadn’t spoken since she’d sent the pair off to scout out the tower, which was where the trail left behind by their quarry ended. She was lounging on her Sky Cycle, inspecting her preferred weapon: a hunting rifle built for putting down heavily armoured enemies at distances exceeding a mile.

She tilted her hat up and glared at the twin towers, hefting her rifle so that she could peer through the scope. “We take them.” Vri’kal growled, “No killing the plump Vortian, but keep the assassin alive just long enough for me to shoot all of his limbs off.”

Doc nodded and hefted a plasma repeater before tossing it to Griz. “Understood.”

Hale gave Vri’kal a concerned glance, noting how the loss of the Muscle had affected her temperament. He exchanged a glance with Doc before mounting up. “Ace, find a roof top with a good vector on those towers and set up a sniper’s nest. We’ll flush them out.”

“Gotcha!” Ace nodded and split off from the group, which continued on towards the end of the trail.

Xxx

Hospital, Western Tower, Level Five

“Aw boy, if I never see another needle again...” Donthar grumbled, stepping out of the lounge which he and Rush had appropriated as a rest stop, clipping his bracelets back onto his wrists.

The glow of Rush’s Holo-Interface followed him, composing a message by the time Donthar finished speaking. -We have another fifteen seconds before I can’t force Chrome to remain on commercial break for at least an hour.- Rush typed, -Do you understand the plan?-

“Get some distance from you, look for a likely place for phase two, and then put on a good show.” Donthar nodded, already peeling off. “And hey, Rush!” He turned and grinned at the assassin as the distance grew between them both. “Yer an okay guy.”

Rush couldn’t fight back the ghost of a smile as the Vortian vanished around the nearest corner.

Chrome flew out of the room. “Aaaaand we are back.” He said, feigning excitement. “Yaaaay...go kill your opponent.

Turning in the exact opposite direction that his opponent had taken, Rush pulled the hood of his coat up over his head and made a running start. There was only so much time to arrange a convincing act and while Donthar had the benefit of no longer being tailed by a camera drone for this round to make it easier Rush had the responsibility of convincing trillions that he was searching for his prey.

And he could only stall for so long before somebody began to doubt that someone of his caliber could have so much trouble finding one Vortian dragging a shield and golden crow bar everywhere he went.

Xxx

Level 7, Western Tower, ten minutes later

“C’mon, I’ve seen hospitals with all sorts’a deadly crap in ‘em.” Donthar muttered as he trotted along lightly, glancing into doors on either side as he passed rooms with the skeletal remains of patients who had been left in their beds...and in some cases the remains of loved ones who had clung to them in their final moments. “Yeesh...poor souls.”

He came to a stop in front of a door marked with bright red letters which were unintelligible to Donthar without Rush to translate. “Hmmmm, red is usually a warning sign fer somethin’ dangerous.” The Vortian observed, scratching his scalp before his mouth split into a grin. “That’s right up my alley!”

He pressed against the door and found that it wouldn’t budge, but when he attempted to pull he felt it shift a bit. “Hm...stuck...” Donthar drawled as his eyes slowly travelled down to the gold coated crowbar hanging from his new belt. “...about time yah made yerself useful fer more than whackin’ stuff.”

Forcing the crow bar’s head between the door and its frame, Donthar gripped the tool tightly and began to pry the door open. His arms bulged as muscles honed by years of hard labour worked to force the door.

After several seconds it opened with the sound of metal tearing and bending. Donthar raised one hand up to cover his eyes and yelped when unfiltered light struck him, almost triggering another seizure as he turned away from the blinding light. “The hell?!”

He thought that he’d somehow opened a door to the outside and waited for his eyes to adjust, keeping them facing away from the light source for nearly a minute before he realized that it wasn’t sunlight he had let into the corridor.

“Okay...eyes down and shut,” Donthar whispered, backing through the door and feeling along the walls.

The room was far warmer than the hall outside, and he could deduce the general direction of the light source based on the heat radiating over him. First Donthar traced the edges of the room, careful to probe any obstacles so that he didn’t wander into anything sharp or otherwise dangerous. Once he had mapped the edges of the room he made his way back to the door as the heat became nigh unbearable, hoping to step out and cool down for a minute. But on his way to the door his hand brushed over something sticking out of the wall, a curved hook which had something hanging from it...

“No way.” Donthar whispered, and pulled the object down, feeling around on it. “No way!”

He slid the object on over his head and fitted something over both of his eyes, instantly filtering out the very worst of the glare.

“Goggles!” Donthar gushed, feeling along the headgear with both hands. “Ohhhh this is the universe givin’ back!”

The goggles were different from the ones he used to wear. Instead of two separate lenses, one for each eye, they were a single blocky lense designed to cover the middle part of his face. Now he could see that the source of the light was a device seated in the middle of the room which was firing a high intensity laser beam down into what used to be an operating bed...with the burned remnants of a body.

Gagging, Donthar quickly backed out of the room. “The hell kind of hospital was this?” He wondered, shutting the door. “Well, at least I got me some new goggles! Suck it Blue Balls, I’m back to square one in the good way!”

No sooner than he finished speaking did the sound of shattering glass cut off his train of thought. Donthar spun around and saw a dot in the wall behind him...which was really a window which had cracked spreading across it. Peering through the hole, Donthar saw the familiar glint of light that had made his heart skip a beat many times over the years...that of the scope of a rifle.

“Yipe!” Donthar threw himself down before several more holes were blown in the window, which shattered into pieces and rained cubed shards down on him. “Oh man, thank god fer safety glass.”

Scrambling out of the line of fire, Donthar moved behind the cover of a solid wall and pressed himself to the surface as several more bullets whizzed through the space he had been occupying. This was repeated to his right, opposite of where the initial barrage had hit.

A sniper. They had a bead on him and had tried to cut him down, assuming he’d keep running until he passed by the next window. Now all was silent, and Donthar’s heart was threatening to shatter his ribs.

Scrambling, Donthar moved along the wall, keeping low and out of view of the window.

Nestled in a room within one of the sky scrapers across from the twin hospital towers, Ace lowered his rifle and raised one hand to his communicator. “Boss, I just spotted the Vortian in the western tower.”

Did you tag him?

“Nah, pudgy little bastard is fast.” Ace shook his head. “He’s mobile, but still pretty visible.”

Keep an eye out, call out locations.” Vri’kal commanded.

Ace folded his rifle and moved towards the stairwell. “Gotcha boss.”

Xxx

Hospital, Eastern Tower, Level Eight

The first thing Rush did was relocate to the adjacent tower, knowing that Donthar had planned to remain in the western tower as they’d privately discussed. It would help them to bide their time until one or the other found a way out of killing each other.

Unlike the western tower, the eastern one had been a recent addition at the time of its construction. The lower floors were complete, but as Rush ascended he found the corridors and rooms being replaced by the skeletal frame of the tower, contained only by the outer walls and support struts.

And you’re absolutely sure that he went up here?” Chrome asked, ascending parallel to a stairway Rush took between half constructed levels of the tower.

Rush gave the drone an annoyed look and gestured for him to be silent.

Just get around to actually killing him before those insects repopulate.” Chrome insisted, fading from view. “Seriously, the way they breed would make bunnies and Umbari envious.

The next level was the most barren yet. Only the floor was finished, and the individual rooms weren’t even established. Construction equipment was scattered around while elevators and ladders connected to the next level.

Rush peered around with some assisted illumination from his Holo-Interface, formulating a plan in his head that could serve his plan. A thousand things could go bad in a construction zone, especially one so high up, but the death needed to look convincing enough without causing Donthar any actual damage that might result in his real death. As he examined a cargo lifter he heard something shift behind him.

Spinning around, Rush spotted the barrel of a gun in his peripheral vision. He swung out with one arm and batted the weapon away while leaning in the opposite direction, successfully redirecting the bullet away from his skull. The wielder recovered quickly enough to reach out and plant their palm against the hilt of Rush’s sword as he reached for it, keeping the weapon locked into its sheathe. The Irken who Rush found himself facing dropped his pistol and jabbed an open palm towards Rush’s throat, which the assassin barely blocked with one forearm and then countered by raising his right leg up in a roundhouse kick toward the Irken’s exposed side.

His shin struck and an arm looped around and under his knee. The Irken gripped Rush by the throat and lifted him up with strength that was surprising for such a wiry frame, swinging the assassin off his other foot and slamming him down against the floor. Rush quickly gripped his attacker by the skull and brought one knee up into his temple, providing him the chance to roll away and climb to his feet. The Irken facing him, clad in a long white coat typically given to high ranking field surgeons in the Irken Armada which appeared to have been modified with armoured padding along the sleeves and torso, drew a knife from beneath his coat and spun it in his grasp before entering a stance Rush recognized as one taught in the Irken Imperial Special Forces.

Reaching beneath his coat for his Shock Knife, Rush was met with a surprise: the sheathe was empty! Then he saw the Irken’s other hand...

“Too slow.” Doc said, and attacked with a knife in each hand, one a standard issue combat blade and the other Rush’s own personal secret weapon.

Rush quickly darted back, keeping out of reach of Doc’s first swing and barely avoiding a follow up stab for his throat. He attempted to reach out and grasp Doc’s wrists, but the Irken withdrew them just in time and once even sliced Rush across the palm of his hand for his troubles.

Pausing after a good ten or eleven consecutive attacks, Doc nodded and began to slowly pace from side to side. “Not too slow,” He conceited, “Good, would hate for this to be easy. Would hate to see a Dark Dweller die without a fight.”

Rush’s eyes widened. How did an Irken, an Irken clearly born and raised from within the Empire, know of his position? What else did he know?

“Surprised?” Doc juggled one knife. “Don’t be. The Empire had at least a few competent spies.”

Then he was in front of Rush again, and the assassin received a cut right across the burnt flesh on the side of his face.  He brought up one hand and managed to push Doc’s arm away, and then twisted his body so that the hand wielding his Shock Knife safely slipped past him, only to pull back before he could grab for it.

Rush knew that if he continued to play defensively he would only be stalling for time until Doc got a lucky hit in. The Irken’s skill was a close match for his own, perhaps better, given how he had taken Rush’s knife without him noticing and in the midst of combat. He needed to go on the offensive, but if he made the wrong move he could lose the use of a limb...or he might lose his life altogether.

Waiting for Doc’s next strike, Rush feigned bringing up one arm to counter the next slice only to perform a back flip which carried his torso down and out of the path of Doc’s swing, simultaneously lifting Rush’s legs so that he was able to kick Doc once in the jaw and then push off of the ground, leaping away and landing on his feet. Doc wiped one sleeve across his mouth and saw the stain of blood that came away on the fabric. He then flipped Rush’s knife around in his grasp and charged again, striking with greater speed than before, aiming for joints and sockets to attempt to deprive the assassin of his greatest advantage in the fight: his mobility.

And this time he would be on guard for more feints like the one Rush had just used.

Xxx

Hospital, Eastern Tower, Level Ten, Crossing

Donthar heaved as he crossed the bridge, hearing the sound of more glass shattering behind him. The sniper had repositioned so fast that he’d thought there had been several men watching the tower, but each time he risked a glance there was only one scope locked onto him.

“Seriously, pal! Persistent much!?” He gasped, and looked around the incomplete interior of the tower. “Okay, okay...need to get back to Rush, but how?”

He looked down through a gap in the floor and swallowed as he saw the drop that awaited. The distance between each level was at least fifteen feet, and he must have been thirty feet up due to the ninth level still possessing vast gaps in its floor...gaps wide enough to let him see Rush fighting for his life against another Irken!

“Ru-” Donthar clapped his mouth shut, not wanting to give away his position, and looked around for a way down.

His eyes settled on an inactive elevator close by, one which was a temporary mechanism which connected only to the ninth and eighth levels. “Perfect!” He rushed over and stepped inside the metal box, and grinned as the doors slid shut after he tapped the ‘down’ key.

“...why does this suddenly seem like a bad idea?” He wondered aloud before the elevator car suddenly dropped a few feet and stopped, making him grip the safety railings. “Oh right...this thing’s probably older than me! THAT’S WHYYYYYY!” He wailed as the car began to drop, this time without any indication that it would stop until it hit the bottom.

Xxx

Eastern Tower, Level Eight

Rush snatched up a stray length of metal pipe and batted aside Doc’s next attack. He rolled forward when the Irken stabbed down towards him, and struck Doc in the back of one knee. Seeing an opportunity, Rush brought the pipe down and under Doc’s jaw and pressed it against his throat while looping both of his arms under his foe’s shoulders, effectively getting Doc in a hold only for the Irken to spin them both around and press his feet against the nearest solid wall. Doc then ‘ran’ up the wall, causing Rush to lose his grip, and landed behind the assassin who he then tackled through the wooden wall, sending them both down into an area that had been marked with bright red paint and numerous signs.

“You took our comrades, Dark Dweller.” Doc said, picking up his knife and coughing into his sleeve. “And now there is no escaping-huh?” He looked to the Shock Knife, but found that it was not where he had dropped it, instead it now rested in Rush’s hands as the assassin struck a stance in front of the doctor. “Hm, very well then.”

Doc spun his knife in his grasp again and entered a similar stance. “Better this way. More appropriate.”

Suddenly a shadow was cast over both of them. Rush glanced up and saw an elevator car careening down towards them, breaks sparking and shrieking as they futilely attempted to slow or stop its descent. Doc noticed this a second too late as Rush took a single step back out of range of the car.

“Oh-”

CRUNCH!

Doc vanished beneath the metal box as it crashed down where he stood. For a few seconds all was silent before the doors creaked open, and Donthar stumbled out, looking nauseous.

“Oh boy...I always did hate roller coasters fer a reason.” Donthar groaned, both hands covering his mouth. “Mmph!”

Rush cracked a smile and slid his knife back under his coat. He patted the Vortian on the back as Donthar doubled over and expelled the contents of his stomach into a hole to the floor below.

“Ugh....thanks man.” Donthar coughed.

-If anything, I should thank you.- Rush typed, -That Irken was most talented.-

“Huh? What’re yah-” Donthar saw the expanding pool of blood edging out from under the elevator and realized what had just happened. “Ughh....gross!”

Wiping his chin, Donthar looked up at Rush. “Somebody took a pot shot at me on m’way up here. I think those three lugs weren’t kiddin’ about their friends comin’ fer some payback!”

Rush nodded. -Yes, the good Doctor was clear about that.- He agreed, -I recommend we restore our truce for now, if only to make sure that the victor of this round is not left alone with these interlopers.- His eyes wandered over to the uncloaking form of Chrome as he typed this.

“Yeah, sounds like an idea.” Donthar said, “I dunno how many more of ‘em there are but-”

He spotted a red dot of light on his shoulder and yelped as he moved out of the way, just avoiding a round that buried itself into a beam behind him. “But they’re good!” He shouted as more bullets zipped through gaps in one of the floor’s walls from the sky scraper across the street.

Rush rolled into cover and patted Donthar, pointing the Vortian towards a stair well and then upwards.

“Go up?!”

Rush nodded.

“Alright, yer the professional here.” Donthar said, and began to move with Rush to the stairs, scaling them as fast as he could while the sniper harassed their every step.

Xxx

Across the street, Level Eight of an abandoned skyscraper

Ace lowered his rifle and gave an aggravated noise. “Dammit, I never miss this much!”

These are no ordinary runners, Ace.” Hale reminded him. “What is Doc’s status?

“They got him,” Ace sighed. “That’s four down, I’m not feeling so confident about this anymore.”

We don’t back down, Ace!” Vri’kal snarled. “We almost have them cornered, just keep on them until they run out of room to manoeuvre and then we’ll finish them off!

Ace nodded and made for the stairs again. “You got it, boss. Just be careful, our luck isn’t so hot today.”

Griz and I are moving up behind them! We’ll keep pushing them and try to flush the assassin out into the open!” Hale reported. “Captain, are you in position yet?

Not yet. On my way up the western tower now.

Xxx

Eastern Tower, Level Thirteen

Donthar was once again gasping for breath as he reached the top of the stairwell. “Oh man...I’m gonna burst somethin’ if I keep this up all day.” He panted. “Well, least I ain’t runnin’ the risk of flashin’ too much leg every time I run. Right Rush?”

Rush aimed his blaster back down the stairwell, but a hint of a smile and a nod showed Donthar that he had been listening. They moved away from the stairs and took in their new surroundings.

“Well, looks like it’s only down from here.” Donthar swallowed, seeing the open sky above them and the western tower jutting almost twice as high as its twin. “Where do we move now?”

Rush patted his arm and pointed to what looked like a bridge which had never been completed...a bridge which had no actual solid ground besides numerous girders and absolutely no cover to go on. The wind was gusting enough that Donthar paled at the thought of taking a single step across the rickety, swaying metal beams.

“Uhhhhh I’d rather take my chances with the sniper to be fully honest.” He rubbed the back of his head. “Why don’t we just see if we can find a way down that doesn’t involve certain death?”

Rush opened his Holo-Interface to reply, but paused as he heard the roar of a pair of thrusters growing closer. He pulled out his blaster and pushed Donthar towards the bridge just as a shape smashed its way up through the floor close by and landed fifteen feet away.

The Planet Jacker stood up and rolled his shoulders before focusing his goggle covered gaze on the pair. He wore bulky armour which had a jet pack built directly into the back, and cables which fed him vital fluids from sacs concealed safely within the many layers of metal plating. In his arms he cradled a weapon linked to a large tank on his lower back by a hose...and tipped with a single lit flame.

“So, you the ones who took down the Doc’n the Muscle?” The Planet Jacker huffed. “Color me unimpressed. A pudgy goat and a skinny bug.”

Donthar glared at the Jacker. “Heeeey!” He protested. “Come over here’n say that again!” His anger melted away as the Jacker hefted his flamethrower. “Or uh...stay over there, that’s fine too.”

The Jacker bared his crooked and discoloured teeth in a grin. “Run, goat, run.” He blew a spout of flame from his flamethrower and then swept it across the floor between them, herding the two towards the bridge.

Rush stepped back, raising one arm to cover his face as he felt the heat from the fire wash over him. He kept one eye on the bridge as he and Donthar found themselves with less room to stand. It was clear that once they were driven back to the very edge of the barely constructed there would be nothing to stop the sniper from picking him off so that Donthar could be taken alive. That left only seconds to come up with a plan...

And this time it was Donthar to spot it. The Vortian nudged Rush as the Planet Jacker unleashed another jet of flames. “The hose! Think you can cut it from here?”

Rush peered at the hose linking the flamethrower to its fuel source and shook his head. The flames and smoke were clouding his vision too much to get a proper lock.

Donthar looked anxiously between the bridge, now only ten feet away, and the Planet Jacker pushing them in towards it. He began to cough as the smoke drifted towards them. “God-damn it! Can’t breathe or...” His voice trailed off abruptly. “Or see...”

Both competitors realized the one thing that would save them: the smoke generated by the growing fire was blowing towards them and straight across the bridge! The thick smog dissipated quickly over the open air, but it would give them a good start against that sniper, who might not wish to risk shooting Donthar by mistake in such a position.

Without a word they both turned and dashed towards the bridge. Donthar found it harder to adapt to the narrower surfaces of the beams, but managed to keep his balance with help from Rush. The smoke became thinner as they crossed, making it easier to see and breathe, but that also meant that the sniper would soon have a clear target. Rush kept close to Donthar, knowing that even a fully trained marksman wouldn’t risk a shot at such proximity.

This worked until they reached the point of the bridge where the beams running along the ‘floor’ no longer connected to the far side. There was a five foot gap between them and the fully constructed western tower, and only enough room for one of them to cross at a time.

“Oh boy...oh boy...!” Donthar shuddered as he looked down. “Yah know, this is the sort’a shit that Zef’n Fren would get into. I was just supposed to be the mechanic y’know!”

Rush nodded and patted Donthar’s shoulder before pointing ahead. Donthar swallowed and took a couple steps back while Rush moved off to the side. The Vortian got a running start and leapt across the gap with a cry, stumbling as he landed but managing to grab onto the beam beneath him and hold onto it for dear life when he began to lean over one edge. “Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh fer the love of-”

Rush followed after him as he heard the distant, resounding crack of the sniper taking a shot at him. He Ducked down as soon as the noise split the air and felt the hood of his jacket shift as the bullet grazed the material, creating a rip in the hood and telling Rush just how close he’d come to losing his head. Before the sniper could get a second shot off he leapt across the gap, flipping in mid air and landing ahead of Donthar, who grumbled. “Show off.”

He accepted a helping hand from Rush to climb to his feet. “So we’re safe now?”

Rush nodded and looked towards the figure of the Planet Jacker standing amidst the flames, protected by the armoured suit from the heat. Suddenly the thruster pack built into the back of the suit roared to life and the Planet Jacker shot up into the air.

“Oh right, he flies.” Donthar groaned, “These guys just don’t quit!”

Rush watched as the Planet Jacker reached the height of a vast arch which would carry him down to the opposite end of the bridge, once again trapping the pair. He looked at Donthar and typed out a single message for him on his Holo-Interface.

-Be ready to strike at his back.-

Without giving the Vortian time to question his plan, Rush handed the Vortian his single remaining blaster, drew his sword and quickly navigated his way to where the metal girders became solid floor beneath his feet. The Planet Jacker was making his descent now, leaving a trail of smoke to outline the path he’d taken. Just as he began to touch down Rush struck out at his exposed back, slicing clean through the hose extending from the fuel tank. This did not escape the attention of the Jacker, who gave an infuriated snarl and twisted around, swinging his now useless flamethrower like a club and catching Rush in the abdomen. The blow had enough force behind it, primarily because of the strength augmenting functions of the Jacker’s armour, to send Rush flying. Luckily this end of the bridge was fully finished and had genuine walls.

“You-” The Jacker broke off into his native tongue, inflicting a series of slurs at Rush as he used the wall as a support and climbed back to his feet, “-crush you like the locust you are!”

He dumped the flamethrower and smashed his gauntlet covered fists together. As the Jacker took one step towards Rush to follow up on his threat he failed to take notice of Donthar reaching the end of the bridge. The Vortian saw the severed hose dangling from the fuel tank on the Jacker’s back, which dripped liquid fuel in a trail behind the cumbersome alien.

It became all too clear to Donthar just what Rush had had in mind.

“Gotcha.” Donthar raised the blaster he’d been given and took careful aim.

He’d never been much of a shot compared to the likes of Zef or Fren, but even he couldn’t miss at this range.

DOW!

One second he squeezed the trigger, and in the next the bolt of super heated unstable matter struck the fuel tank, burning through the metal shell and igniting the fuel within. The tank exploded, engulfing the Jacker in flames. He began to scream and writhe as the fire entered the safe confines of his armour through the breaches made in the back by the explosion, allowing the flames uninhibited access to the Jacker’s vulnerable body within.

Donthar looked away and tried to block out the screams as the Planet Jacker was cooked alive inside his own armour. He felt Rush’s hand on his arm and looked up at the Irken, who offered him a kind smile and turned Donthar away from the Jacker’s smoldering form, which finally had slumped to the ground and ceased all sound and motion.

“Y....you think it’s over now?” Donthar asked hopefully. “I mean...we just kill five of ‘em. You think they’ll...just give up and leave now?”

Rush couldn’t bring himself to tell the truth to the Vortian. He nodded and patted Donthar’s back while taking back his blaster from the Vortian’s faltering grip.

-I doubt that sniper would be able to give us any trouble if he wanted to. This tower goes too high up for him to get a clean shot at us.- Rush typed. -We are safe, Donthar. I promise.-

A relieved smile spread across Donthar’s face as he slumped down to the floor. “Oh god...finally.” He gasped. “All’o that...makes me think back to my time in the Raiders.” He looked up at Rush again and chuckled. “It’ll be good to see ‘em all again.”

Rush nodded just before he heard a ‘click’ from close by. He looked around and quickly assessed their new surroundings. A simple square shaped room, an exit on each side branching off into hallways, a single elevator which was left open to show the empty shaft within, and...a stairwell door which had been kicked off of its hinges.

“Sorry to say chubby, but you ain’t going anywhere close to home again.” A woman said from behind them.

The speaker stepped out of one of the branching corridors, levelling a long rifle directly at them. Such a large weapon would usually be impractical in closed quarters, but the red dot of light on his chest told Rush that the woman’s experience with it would more than make up for it. She wore a wide brimmed hat, something which he had found common among many mercenaries, and a long coat over an armoured battle suit. Her yellow eyes glared venomously at Rush, filled with a malice that he knew to be of a personal nature after seeing enough of it over the course of his career.

“You killed my men...my boys.” Captain Vri’kal hissed, stopping at an angle that put Rush right between her and the open elevator doors. “You’re going back to Blue, slave, and I’ll be sure to administer plenty of discipline in his name. And as for you, assassin...you’ve been a dead man walking for quite a while now-”

Donthar, taking advantage of the woman’s monologue, slowly slid Galahad’s shield off of his back, but rather than try to move between Rush and the shooter (which he knew he would be too slow to pull off before she fired) he waited until she removed her gaze from the sights and tossed the shield towards Rush. The assassin caught it easily by the rim and quickly positioned it between himself and Vri’kal just as she pulled the trigger.

A loud crack filled the air, deafening Donthar and leaving him with only a ringing noise as he clapped his hands to his head and shut his eyes. He tried to call out for Rush, his own voice sounding like it was a thousand miles away. He opened one eye and raised his head up to see what had happened.

Vri’kal stood with her rifle lowered and her lips drawn back, baring her teeth in a vicious grin which Donthar had seen too many times with Teivol. The barrel of her rifle was smoking...and Rush was nowhere to be seen. Galahad’s shield lay just before the open elevator shaft with a large dent in the middle...

And from there it was easy to tell what had happened.

“NO!” Donthar ran towards the elevator doors. “RUSH!”

He peered down into the void, his voice echoing all the way down to the bottom...where he heard a crash moments later to signal when the assassin’s body had struck the lowest floor of the tower.

“RUSH!” Donthar shouted in despair, leaning so far into the shaft that he almost fell in before he was pulled back by a pair of rough, strong hands. “Let me go! GET OFF-”

Something was jammed into his neck, and Donthar felt his muscles lose their strength as he went slack in his captor’s grip. He continued to try and reach for the doors desperately, murmuring his fallen comrade’s name repeatedly.

“Rush...Rush...” He whispered, his eyelids growing heavy.

“Rush...I’m so sorry...”

Oblivion claimed him.

Xxx

...

The fall had been long. Too long for him to survive.

He managed to block the bullet, but the kinetic force of the large projectile had been enough to fling him back. He’d dropped the shield and slammed into the wall of the elevator shaft, stunning him long enough that before he could try to grip the walls he was peeled off by gravity and began a headfirst plummet.

Panic. Can’t see. Can’t tell which way is up.

He struck the wall of the shaft again two floors down. Pain from his shoulder.

Now he was somewhat aware.

Each time he hit the wall he slowed just a bit.

On the third collision he had his Shock Blade in hand and tried to jam it into the side of the shaft.

He forgot to hit the button first.

The blade snapped off at the hilt. His best weapon. Gone.

A renewed surge of terror. Heart beating like a machine gun. Blood raging.

Stop! Think! Grab something! Anything!

He was six floors down from where he’d fallen. About halfway down. He had to decelerate below terminal velocity.

When he hit the wall again the impact weave of his coat absorbed the worst of the landing again, and he managed to place one hand on the wall. His glove tried to fix itself to the surface.

Moving too fast. The palm of the glove was damaged.

The fabric tore away from his hand and clung to the wall. He kept falling.

The next time he tried again he managed to stop himself....just three floors up. His entire body felt like it was on fire now. Limbs felt like lead, joints felt shattered. His head swayed as he tried to reach out and grab onto something else to steady himself.

He accidentally peeled the palm of his one good glove away from the wall and fell the final three stories, landing on top of the elevator car.

As darkness closed in he heard Donthar calling his name.

Donthar...

Vortian. Black skin. Green eyes. Green horns. Overbite.

I...I failed you.

Rush closed his eyes and waited to die.

I failed all of them...failed...

The whirr of anti gravity thrusters filled the shaft.

Holy crap! You’re still alive!

Not for long.

Running medical scan...oh wow! I can’t believe it! Only a few bone fractures and a concussion! Oh man, Rush, you are unstoppable!

Wrong. He’d failed, and a Vortian was going to end up being enslaved for the rest of his life because of it.

Donthar...Zef...Risk......Xavia....

Xavia. He wanted to see her again. He wanted to just see her one more time. He wanted to see her daughter, her brother, her nephew...he wanted to be with them just once more, like he’d promised he would. He was supposed to win this and be relieved of the burden of the Dark Dweller, he was supposed to be free to be with them again.

None of it was fair.

I’m so sorry.

Xxx

End of Part Three

The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part Three
Part 3 of 4


Rush and the crew of the Flotsam belong to me

Donthar and Teivol belong to :iconheavenbat:

Blue belongs to :iconprojecthalfbreed:

Galahad (mentioned belongs to) :icondesiredwatcher:

Xavia, Zaviour, Nebba and Oxy (mentioned only) :iconcosace:

:iconthe-bloodsport:

LINKS
Part 1  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: The Re-Re CullingThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part One: Acquaintances
Zone One: The City
Downtown
Those who had once dwelled here must have come far before being struck down by whatever had rendered ‘That Planet’ mostly lifeless. The only city to exist on the sole continent told much of its creators by what they had left behind when they had either departed for the stars...or had been struck down somehow.
Vast towers still stood the gauntlet of time and nature, resisting the efforts of powerful winds, violent storms, periodically rising sea levels and the large animals that were more common to this world to buckle their supports. Between them large domes expanded upwards into view, their crystalline carapace cracked yet still reflecting the sunlight brilliantly as the yellow glow of the singular star rose on the eastern horizon. The lower reaches of the city were concealed by a mist originating from the coastline

Part 2  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part TwoThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Two: Conspiracies
Zone One: The City
Downtown
“So...you really can’t speak?” Donthar asked, trudging along next to Rush through a wide open plaza encircling a fountain. “At all?”
Rush nodded, but what he typed was of a completely different topic. -If I am going to free you, I first need to be certain that Blue has no way of tracking or recapturing you. Can I assume that those bands you wear around your arms are used as a sort of restraint when activated remotely?-
“Aw I dunno,” Donthar sighed and rapped his crowbar twice against a car they were passing. “I meant it wouldn’t surprise me if my luck was that bad.”
In the half hour since they had started searching for a clothing store the two had quickly formed a system of secretly communicating even as they exchanged idle chit chat

Part 4  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part FourThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Four: Final Step
Zone One: The City
Downtown
En route to the freighter Flotsam
“Aw you’ve gotta be kiddin’ me.”
Donthar kept his head bowed, staring at his manacled hands and legs in sullen silence while his captors stood close by, looking over their Sky Cycles as well as those of their deceased compatriots: the Doc and Griz.
“Sorry boss, looks like while we were all rather preoccupied those little creepers passed through and gunked up the engines on all the bikes.” Ace said, squashing the body of one of ‘them insects’ which had crawled inside his Sky Cycle. “Looks like we’re walking home.”
Vri’kal glanced towards Donthar and then nodded. “Fine, get him up and let’s get moving. Ace, if he so much as tries to make a break for it you shoot his legs out from
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The Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling

Xxx

Part Two: Conspiracies

Zone One: The City

Downtown

“So...you really can’t speak?” Donthar asked, trudging along next to Rush through a wide open plaza encircling a fountain. “At all?”

Rush nodded, but what he typed was of a completely different topic. -If I am going to free you, I first need to be certain that Blue has no way of tracking or recapturing you. Can I assume that those bands you wear around your arms are used as a sort of restraint when activated remotely?-

“Aw I dunno,” Donthar sighed and rapped his crowbar twice against a car they were passing. “I meant it wouldn’t surprise me if my luck was that bad.”

In the half hour since they had started searching for a clothing store the two had quickly formed a system of secretly communicating even as they exchanged idle chit chat for the cameras. While they maintained two different conversations simultaneously, one in the open and the other in secret, Donthar would periodically tap his crowbar against anything they passed close to in order to convey a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to one of Rush’s questions.

Two taps means yes, one means no.

The point of this was to acquire as much information as possible. Rush knew that if Donthar won the tournament he would be immediately snatched back up by Blue, and that unless he ensured Blue had no way of knowing that the Vortian was alive Donthar would return to his gilded prison all the same.

That left them with three goals to meet by the end of this round.

1) Remove anything Blue could use to restrain or track Donthar.

2) Do so in a way that doesn’t betray their plan, thus allowing Blue to arrange for Donthar to be retrieved.

3) Fake Donthar’s death in a way that would satisfy the cameras and allow him to be retrieved by somebody who wouldn’t turn him back over to Blue.

With Kid it had been easier to pull off because the boy had been long since freed from servitude, and the cave in had provided Rush with a span of time to arrange his ruse. That wouldn’t be so easy to replicate unless they found the right building to do it in.

The first two steps would fortunately be easy to pull off with a brief amount of time away from the cameras.

-Those bands look too small to be removed by hand. I will need to connect my Interface with them to see if I can remotely open them.- Rush typed, -And even then you will need to keep them on to maintain our deception.-

“I know, small sacrifices, right?” Donthar answered. “But I can live with it, I suppose.”

Rush nodded. -We will need a place where we can have some brief privacy from our camera drones. Locate a clothing store and when we enter to search for your clothing I will attempt to find an opportune moment.-

“Suits me!” Donthar gave a toothy grin. “Now let’s find me them pants! Seriously, this stupid outfit gives me a wedgie like you’d never believe. Dunno how the hell Kid survived with it for so many years.”

Xxx

Several miles away from the pair, a ship was nestled among an area of the downtown district which had become overrun by plants moving in to reclaim what had been taken from nature so long ago. The vessel was of medium size, large enough to hold maybe thirty or forty people in comfort. Its outer hull was round and violet in color, a clear indication that it was an old mothballed vessel of the Irken armada if the grinning, faded emblem of the Empire on the side was not enough to convey its history to any who saw it.

In the cockpit of this century old vessel, a figure slumbered with their boot clad feet propped up on the inactive navigational controls and their hands folded behind their head as they nestled into the rich leather of their chair. With the cockpit so dark as it was one could walk in and barely notice the sole occupant dozing off at their station...unless you possessed a keen sense of sight like the Veniran who ducked through the hatch at the back and shook the chair with one large hand.

“Boss, we’ve received a transmission.” The Veniran, a young but prime example of his species with dark hair tied into numerous dreads which were further tied together by braids to keep it back and permanent markings in black staining his grey fur along his arms and chest. “It is the Aristo.”

The person seated in the pilot’s chair lowered their feet down to the ground with a yawn and turned their chair around to face the Veniran, revealing an Irken with yellow eyes clad in a form flattering battlesuit beneath a leather coat and a wide brimmed hat.

“Well then, guess we’d better see what Lord Blue Balls wants this time.” She muttered, displeased at her sleep being interrupted but anticipating the no doubt substantial award awaiting them for whatever it was that Tallest Candidate Blue was about to hire them for.

The crew of the mothballed garbage tug, the Flotsam, had made a neat little arrangement with Blue over the years by acting as one of his proxies for certain missions which he could not trust to any of his slaves or assassins. He would hire them to steal something, to kill someone, to drop off something somewhere with no questions asked and in return Captain Vri’kal and her crew of seven were handsomely paid and given the proper papers to proceed unhindered through Imperial space. Their recent bout of poor luck had forced them to set down on a world where departure quickly became impossible thanks to the presence of that thrice damned show Bloodsport and all of its cameras.

The Flotsam had been sitting tight and waiting for the tournament to end so far, content to remain out of sight until the cameras were gone and the slaughter had ended.

If Blue was contacting them now then it had to be important, especially if he wanted to risk them being blasted for interfering with his empire’s precious game show.

Vri’kal stepped into the CIC aft of the cockpit where the rest of her crew was already assembled.

The Muscle: Bron, the Veniran who had awoken her, Slicer, another Veniran who always seemed to be stroking or polishing the sword he carried on his person at all times, and Kabeir, the heavy weapons expert of the trio and also their brother. They were triplets who Vri’kal had hired on after seeing them perform admirably in an arena on some backwater world under the whims of some Irken governor with little better to do.

The Doctor: Doc...who had refused under any circumstances to share his name. He was an Irken like Vri’Kal with his own past in the military like her, but he specialized more in fixing people up than in putting them down despite how she had seen him personally gun down a half dozen Imperial shock troopers who hadn’t accepted Blue’s papers one time. He was seated towards the back, already going through his bag to make sure he had everything he would need for whatever Blue had in store for them.

The Ace: Ace...that was literally his name. He was a Planet Jacker who wore a full body suit at all times, complete with the standard set of tubing that Vri’kal had long ago given up finding any point in. She’d only ever seen the upper half of his bald head outside of that suit, and only a few times had she ever seen his red eyes whenever he removed the black reflective shades he wore over them. He was their helmsman officially, but she had seen him take the head off of a group of five from over a quarter mile away without pause or hesitation once.

The Tech: Griz, another Planet Jacker from the same neck of the woods as Ace. The two had come on board together, and since then Vri’kal had rarely had anything to complain about in regards to the condition of the Flotsam with how dedicated the little Jacker was to checking everything twice to make sure it worked and disassembling it twice to ensure not a single piece was lacking for quality.

And finally her XO: Hale, a rare black skinned Vortian with blue eyes and more muscle than any except for the Muscle Trio. He had been with Vri’kal since before the Empire had made slaves of his people, and Vri’kal had in return ensured that he would never have to fear having a collar slapped around his neck. He had served as her right hand since she had first stolen the Flotsam and also made sure to keep her head from getting too far up into the clouds, ensuring that she didn’t make any mistakes which might cost the crew.

They were her crew, and the only friends who she would ever need in the universe...

And now they would follow her into hell and back for whatever Blue had in mind for them.

“Opening link...now.” Hale announced, and the image of Blue lounging on his throne-like comfy chair appeared in the heart of the CIC, towering over everyone present.

Captain Vri’kal, so pleased that you could pick up” He gave that grin she had longed to smack off his face for years. “I apologize for interrupting anything but I have a job which requires your unique talents.

“We’re always glad to answer your call, Lord Blue.” Vri’kal removed her hat and held it to her chest. “However we’re in a bit of a snag at the moment.”

Oh yes, of course...you’re presently doing a bad job of hiding yourself on the same planet that Bloodsport is taking place on, which is exactly why I need you.

Vri’kal clenched her jaw and bit back a harsh retort.

You see, Captain, on this planet is a slave of mine who I had entered into this contest as a means of curbing his attitude...and hopefully winning myself a planet as a lovely bonus.” Blue explained. “But now he has come into contact with a potential sympathizer who may attempt to secure his freedom, and I simply can’t have that.

“A fairly...standard job, Lord Blue.” Vri’kal tilted her head to the side. “But if we appear on camera, wouldn’t that risk compromising you if any were to trace our involvement back to you?”

Only if you get taken alive, which I doubt you would.” Blue answered, “You see, this sympathizer I speak of is a rather proficient assassin by the name of Rush, who is suspected to work for Wrath and his precious Syndicate.

“The Syndicate?” Hale shook his head. “Ma’am, with respect, if we cross the Syndicate then we might not live to even get our reward this time. You heard what happened to Lord Blue’s chief of security-”

I believe everybody has by this point.” Blue frowned and leaned forward. “But let me make this clear to you...do you know just how I knew to call you? How I knew that you would be on this exact planet?

Vri’kal slowly inhaled. “...no, Lord Blue.”

I didn’t, as it was Commander Teivol who made me aware of your presence and also pulled some strings which prevented your ship from being destroyed from orbit to remove whatever temptation it might instill in any of the competitors to...commandeer your vessel.” Blue gestured with one hand. “Because of that...you owe your lives to Commander Teivol, once again, and by extension you owe them to me. Am I clear, Captain Vri’kal?

Vri’kal sucked in another breath...and bowed her head. “Of course, Lord Blue.”

I’m glad that we’ve come to an agreement on that.” Blue smirked. “The slave in question is a Vortian by the name of Donthar; black skin, green eyes, a lovely white outfit which he seems bent on replacing with something that would make people mistake him for a free Vortian and golden bangles which cannot be removed by any hands, save my own. I assume that it will be easy for you to locate him, considering your proximity to him.

“We will begin our search at once, Lord Blue.” Vri’kal nodded. “You wish for the slave to be returned unharmed, yes?”

Well...maybe undamaged, but for the trouble he’s given me you may feel free to administer some discipline to him in my name.” Blue replied. “In fact I think you may do so for several weeks as far as I care. After all, in the event that I am wrong about the threat that this assassin presents then Donthar will require some manner of discipline before being allowed to come back to me.

“As you command, Lord Blue.”

Xxx

“Too big around the waist, too small, too many pant legs.”

The floor of what they had come to know as a clothing store became covered in a short period of time as Donthar discarded everything that did not meet his standards. Rush stood on guard close to the front, peering out into the streets as the sun continued to slowly progress towards the center of the sky, altering the angles of every shadow and turning hiding places into open space and vice versa.

“Hey Rush! A little help here?” Donthar requested, “Seriously, I can’t search this whole place myself!”

The store they had stumbled upon was located on the fourth floor of some kind of shopping center. Rather than multiple stores being located along the interior of a single building they were scattered evenly along a outside of a single building and connected by elevators, stairs and walkways. From there Rush had found an adequate view of the area to watch for threats from while Donthar searched for a pair of pants.

It also gave Rush time to think on what to do after the Vortian succeeded in his quest.

The added risk of ‘Them Insects’ meant that he couldn’t just leave Donthar anywhere. Any rescue team would take several hours to extract him without detection, and based on what Chrome had to say about this horde that had been released onto the planet they would be particularly tenacious at getting to any food source.

“Hey! Rush! Rush?!”

Donthar’s voice became more distressed, snapping Rush out of his thoughts and drawing him back to reality so quickly that before the assassin even realized it he had vaulted over the nearest shelf and landed with a blaster in each hand and covering both ends of the aisle. After verifying that he and Donthar were alone Rush holstered his weapons and looked inquisitively at the Vortian, who was pointing frantically towards the ceiling with an expression of utmost urgency on his face.

Rush tilted his head up and saw what his Vortian companion had to be concerned about.

They were covering the ceiling, forming a canopy so thick that he could not see anything beneath it. In spite of their numbers they moved with an unnatural silence, squeezing past one another as they massed all across the store’s ceiling.

“It’s-it’s-” Donthar swallowed and whispered. “Them Insects!

In that moment Rush fought down the urge to draw his pistols again and instead grabbed Donthar by the wrist. He held one finger up to his lips to call for silence and then guided the Vortian carefully towards the exit. Before they could get too close to the glass store front more of the insects latched onto the windows and began to scurry around in a chaotic mess.

There would be no exit through the front.

Rush opened his Holo-Interface and began to type commands into a panel located along his forearm, using only one eye to read the row of keys as they appeared on a display and assigning the other to keep watch for any attempts by the insects to approach them. He felt Donthar press against his back, the Vortian’s fingers gripping the fabric of his coat.

“R-Rush?” Donthar kept his voice soft and low. “What do we do?”

Unable to take the time to pause and compose a text to answer the Vortain, Rush finished syncing his Interface to his PAK and held out the gauntlet of solid light, emitting a wave of white from his palm which washed over the swarm coating the ceiling. This act disturbed some members of the swarm, but only a few began to fly down and surround the pair.

A new display appeared, hovering close to Rush’s forearm. On it was the collective data gained from the scan he had conducted on the insects, collected through his PAK’s bio scanner and directed through the Holo-Interface.

ANALYSIS COMPLETE. CONSULTING DATABASE.

Culicidae Designata

Aggressive behaviour, swarm movements, biting induces large welts.

WARNING: Deadly in high numbers.

WARNING: Signs of chemical mutagenic alteration to reproductive system, rate and speed of reproduction increased by approximately five hundred percent.

WARNING: Known to display ability to coordinate and execute simple tactics. Possibility of hive mind with limited sentience rating for purpose of survival. Treat with caution.

Rush swept his Interface across the floor, piercing the surface to search for anything that could be used to his advantage.

Adjusting search parameters. Seeking tactical applications of local environment. Scanning...scanning...

Donthar began to tug at his sleeve. “Rush, they’re getting closer!” The Vortian warned him, his voice rising several octaves as he tried to hold back the terror threatening to engulf him and send him into a panic – or a seizure.

Warning. No potential tactical applications of local environment.

Nothing. There was nothing! Not even something they could start a fire with, much less make an explo-

Rush realized that he had overlooked something, and a plan began to quickly form in his head. It was not one of his most elegant strategies, but unless he did something both he and Donthar would likely be torn apart by the swarm.

 “Rush!” Donthar shouted as more insects dropped down from ceiling, several landing on him and making the Vortian cringe and yelp as they bit into his exposed flesh.

Rush pulled Donthar close with one hand and forced the Vortian to the floor. He slid his coat off and threw it over Donthar, providing him with protection from the insects at the cost of leaving Rush slightly more exposed. The insects began to bite into his exposed face and neck, but Rush swatted them away quickly and pulled one of the spare energy cells from his PAK.

One of the blasters nestled in an underarm holster were pulled free, and Rush lobbed the fuel cell upwards. What came next was a demonstration of how thoroughly trained Rush had been ever since taking on the role as Dark Dweller, how he had spent day and night refining himself into a precise and efficient instrument of death.

It took no longer than a single heart beat after the energy cell left his hand for him to shoot it just as it tapped against the ceiling. Superheated and unstable matter compressed into a cylinder small enough to be held in the palm of one’s hand was unleashed in the blink of an eye, pouring out into the open air and shooting outwards.

From the limited safety beneath Rush’s coat Donthar felt a wave of heat and felt the building shake beneath him. The explosion had been small, directed upwards, but it had still been enough for Rush’s intended goal. The swarm was scattered, the closest either incinerated or shredded into paste while the rest were blown back with sufficient velocity to shatter their chitin armour against whatever surface they were propelled into. The windows lining the front of the store shattered, sending glass shards shooting out into the open air among a spray of bug guts.

In the moments following the explosion Donthar peeked out from under the fabric of the coat and blinked as dust made his eyes sting. He coughed a bit and tried to clear the air around him, sitting up. A few articles of clothing around him were already catching fire, the ceiling overhead was crumbling at the edges of a sizable hole that had been made by Rush’s plan. The assassin himself was a few feet away, laying on his side, coughing silently into his palm as he tried to ease himself up.

“Rush!” Donthar moved to his side and helped him to sit up. “Oh man, are yah nuts?! You could’ve kill yerself with that!”

Rush had a few new burns, one in particular on the right side of his face just below his eye. Beyond that and some additional cuts and burns to his clothing he didn’t bear any severe or even really noticeable injuries. Donthar had gotten through practically unharmed thanks to the protection of Rush’s coat, which the Vortian bundled the assassin within as his legs wobbled uncertainly beneath him.

“C’mon, forget the clothes, we need to get you looked at!” Donthar insisted, letting Rush lean on him and guiding the Irken towards the exit.

Oh my! Such excitement!” Val squeaked, following after them with Chrome at her side. “But he should really desist in assisting his opponent, especially now that the tactical advantage is his!

Chrome emitted a groan. “By the Almighty Shortest, please scramble my audio sensors so I don’t need to listen to this panty waste shit dispenser one minute longer.</i>” He pleaded, “Anything has to be better than this!

Almost as soon as Donthar and Rush stepped out onto the walkway outside of the store Chrome learned to be careful what he wished for specifically.

TZZZZ!

Donthar shrieked in pain and dropped Rush before quickly toppling to the floor next to him. A pair of cables were fixed to the Vortian’s arm, feeding a current of electricity directly into him.

What fresh insolence is this?!” Val demanded, flying forward. “Who dares to interfere with this match-” Another pair of prong tipped cables latched onto her metal exterior and overloaded her circuits, making a series of garbled noise escape from her vocal processors and causing smoke and sparks to escape from the drone before Val clattered to the floor.

“’Bout damn time she shut up.”

The speaker stepped out into view as Chrome quickly backed up into the store and lowered himself down behind a counter top as three hulking Venirans appeared. Each of them held a peculiar rifle with cables running from the tips of two and ending at the prongs that had stunned Donthar and Val respectively.

“Well look what we have here, brothers.” One of the Venirans, the one who had stunned Donthar, grinned and kicked Rush in the side, causing air to expel through his mouth as a muted gasp of pain. “A bug and a goat.”

The Veniran who had yet to fire his stun rifle pushed his companion back. “Careful not to damage the merchandise, Bloodsport competitors would fetch us quite the price out on the Rim Sectors.”

“Not this one.” The Veniran who had stunned Val nudged Rush with his foot. “Look at this locust, looks like he bathed in a hole with a grenade for company. But this one here...he’s a Royal Slave, with them fancy silks and all that jewelry.”

Rush sucked in a breath and glanced around without moving his head, counting the Venirans and searching for any other nearby attackers. Next he examined Donthar and was relieved to find that the Vortian was still conscious and hadn’t suffered a seizure – as his medical profile indicated he was prone to without his goggles, but he had no idea of an electrical shock could trigger the same reaction that harsh lighting could. The Vortian was trying to reach for where the stun rifle’s prongs stuck out of his bicep to pull them out.

“Whoa no you don’t!” The Veniran whose rifle was still connected to Donthar squeezed the trigger, sending a fresh surge into the Vortian and making him writhe in pain.

“Cut it out, Kabeir!” The ringleader shouted, gripping Kabeir’s rifle. “We need him alive- more money for live ones!”

Rush caught the haste correction just before he caught another kick from the ringleader, this time by mistake rather than intent as he tried to stop Kabeir from shocking Donthar to death. This move rolled Rush over so that he was facing Donthar entirely just as the Vortian fell still again. One watering green eye was open and staring at Rush, showing his bloodied and dust coated reflection within it.

“Oh relax Bron, was just making sure he didn’t try anything.” Kabeir replied defensively, shoving Bron back. “I know when to stop.”

“Clearly not.” The third Veniran scoffed, disconnecting his rifle from Val’s immobile form. “Pick which one we keep and let’s get moving. The Captain wants a haul and we’re taking a big risk here by snatching fighters on-camera.”

Rush looked at Donthar and quickly opened his Holo-Interface as the trio of Venirans bickered above them. He typed in a single word and flashed it for everyone, even the Venirans to see.

SEIZURE.

“Hey!” Bron kicked Rush again, “What’s that?”

“Seizure...?” The third Veniran murmured. “Why would he say that?”

They didn’t understand, but Donthar caught the meaning. He had seen enough recordings of himself to know how to replicate the obvious symptoms of a seizure, and began by rolling his eyes back as far as they would go. He added a shriek as he arched his back and flipped over, convulsing. One of his horns poked Kabeir in the foot, making the Veniran yelp in pain and drop his rifle. Before he could enact retribution against the Vortian he was stopped by Bron.

“Seizure! He’s having a seizure!” Bron snapped. “Slicer!”

The third Veniran, Slicer, quickly moved to keep Donthar held down. The Vortian continued to shriek and babbled, even banging his head against the floor once before Bron moved to hold his skull in place.

In their hurry to keep Donthar from hurting himself, all three of them had forgotten the injured but still functional assassin behind them.

Kabeir, who had been nursing his bleeding foot, spotted Rush’s movement too late to act. Rush placed one hand palm flat on the floor and pushed off of the floor, keeping his body low until he leapt over the hunched over forms of Bron and Slicer. The assassin’s knife flew from his hand, spinning through the air and sinking into Kabeir’s throat. The Veniran’s eyes bulged and his hands scrambled to cover the site from where blood now flowed like a waterfall, spilling down his front.

Still in mid leap, Rush planted one foot against Kabeir’s chest and tried to tug his knife free, but Kabeir wrapped one hand around his wrist and gave a choked growl as he tried to wrestle Rush to the ground using what little strength he had left. Rush heard the startled shouts behind him and quickly unsheathed his sword, swinging up and slicing through Kabeir’s wrist, followed up by cutting diagonally through his neck to send the Veniran’s head rolling with Rush’s knife still lodged into the throat attached to it.

Slicer was on his feet and unsheathed his own sword, rushing to confront the assassin. Bron reached for his rifle, and cringed as he felt something blunt strike him on the side of his skull. Donthar had taken advantage of the distraction to grab his crowbar, finally putting it to use as a weapon.

“YAH LIKE THAT?!” Donthar howled and hit Bron in the mouth next, shattering several teeth. “CHOKE ON IT!”

As he wound up for a third hit Donthar felt a hand close around his throat and cut off his oxygen supply. The Vortian gagged, his eyes bulging in their sockets, and was lifted off his feet by Bron and slammed down into the floor. His head struck the ground and his vision spun, blood leaked from the back of his head...

Bron grunted and stood up, leaving the quivering Vortian where he stood to watch Slicer face off against Rush. Both swordsmen were particularly talented, neither managing to land a blow as their blades flashed between them. Slicer possessed greater reach and strength due to his physiology, but Rush was much quicker and able to avoid every slice by his larger opponent. Sparks flew as Slicer parried another attempted stab into his side by the Irken, who spun away as the Veniran chopped downwards.

The sight of Kabeir’s decapitated head several feet away from its body with an expression of ferocity permanently fixed in place on the face of Bron’s brother caused an eruption of anger within the usually subdued and collected mercenary. He slipped the blaster out of his belt and took aim, carefully waiting for the opportune moment when Slicer would not be in the line of fire to avenge Kabeir.

“Move...” Bron whispered. “Move!”

Slicer was too slow to avoid an attack and was cut across the abdomen. He groaned in pain and stumbled back with one hand over his gut, his intestines beginning to peek out. This gave Bron a split second opening where Rush was too far from Slicer for the shot to accidentally hit the Veniran.

DOW!

Rush had already been moving, and the projectile sailed over his head as he dropped low, legs parting and one hand pressed to the floor to support his upper body. The slim and blood stained ninjato inspired sword spun his Rush’s grasp before he lunged to the side, closer to Slicer.

DOWDOW!

Two more shots, Rush leapt into the air and curled his body into a ball, flipping head over heels and passing over Slicer. Bron didn’t have a clear shot, and roared in frustration before Rush’s sword sprouted from the shoulder of the arm Slicer wasn’t using to hold his guts in. When Slicer attempted to struggle Rush twisted the blade once and pressed his remaining blaster (the other had been lost after he had used it to blast the energy cell and scatter the insect swarm) into the small of the Veniran’s back.

Now they were left in a standoff. Rush released his grip on his sword but kept his gun in place. He summoned his Holo-Interface and began to type a message.

-Drop your weapon, mercenary, or he dies.- Rush declared.

Bron growled and turned his blaster on Donthar. “Release him or the goat dies!” He snarled.

Rush’s eyes narrowed. -You won’t shoot him. You need him alive.- He reminded the Veniran. -You are specifically after Donthar. Tell me why.-

“I SAID LET HIM GO!” Bron howled. “I’ll kill him! I’ll kill the goat!”

Rush shrugged. -You would only save me the trouble of maintaining this truce.- He bluffed, -I would prefer not to have it ended until I have upheld my end of it, but if you kill Donthar the only person you will be affecting in this situation is yourself.-

Bron hissed, knowing the truth and wishing that he could just disregard the whole damn mission. One of his brothers were dead, the other held at gun point. The mission was the furthest thing from his current priority but he knew that even if he saved Slicer afterwards Blue would see them all dead for killing his slave.

Suddenly he saw Slicer’s eyes. They were travelling between him and something off to his side...Bron’s yet to be used stun rifle! From the angle that it was at in relation to Rush and Slicer the Irken would not see it behind a pillar in front of the clothing store, but Slicer always did remember the finer details of any battlefield.

Bron lowered his blaster to his side and dropped it to the ground. “Fine.” He said, raising his hands overhead and stepping off to the side. “Take your goat, just leave my brother and go.”

Rush nodded. -Wise of you to be reasonable.-

He dismissed his Holo-Interface and gripped the hilt of his sword. The blaster was holstered beneath Rush’s arm, and his hand was pressed gently to Slicer’s back to keep him steady and begin herding the Veniran forward. His intent was to move until he was close enough to Donthar, keeping Slicer between himself and Bron all the while, and then shove the badly wounded Veniran off of his sword’s blade and flee with Donthar.

They barely got three steps before Bron kicked his rifle up into the air, grabbed it by the handle and fired before Rush could even register this action, even with all of his training. Slicer twisted away, leaving Rush holding his sword and trying to keep the Veniran from removing himself from between the assassin and Bron. Two prongs struck Rush, piercing the fabric of his shirt and the skin beneath.

In the split second before Bron squeezed the trigger again, Rush lunged towards Kabeir’s head and the Shock Knife which was still impaled into the attached neck. His hand reached out towards the hilt...and fell short.

Immediately Rush’s sword clattered to the floor, and the assassin fell forward. Slicer crumpled in a heap against the railing lining the walkway and watched in satisfaction as Bron mercilessly poured countless volts into the Irken. While a PAK was protected against simple stun weapons, the common Irken’s body was still vulnerable to the effects of electrical shocks as any other species, as Rush demonstrated as he convulsed much like Donthar had a minute ago.

“You took our brother from us, locust.” Bron hissed, and advanced on Rush. “You will know our suffering for that.”

Left helpless, Rush could only bring himself to focus on a single action. His hand clumsily slapped against Kabeir’s head, his fingers unable to close around the hilt of the Shock Knife...

But he was able to slap his palm down on the button at the base of the hilt at least once, and that turned out to be enough. An electrical energy field crackled to life, covering Rush and travelling through the prongs embedded into his chest, the cables attached to them...and right into Bron’s stun rifle.

The rifle exploded in Bron’s grip before he could process what happened. He snarled as he lost at least two fingers and stared at the metal shards buried into his hands and arms. Several other fragments had flown into his face, at least one splitting his left eye clean open and stopping short of his brain. Ragged breaths escaped from the Veniran as he swayed from side to side...

And unleashed an infuriated and pained roar before charging straight at Rush, who was already on his feet with his knife in hand. The assassin still needed to recover from his experience with being stunned, and was only able to stumble back in an effort to keep some distance between himself and Bron.

DOW!

Luckily, Bron had once again forgotten the less obvious threat, and for his foolishness he took a blaster bolt to the back and stumbled. He spun around and saw, through his one good eye, Donthar aiming the very pistol Bron had dropped before executing his ruse. The Vortian saw the crazed look in the Veniran’s eye and tried to fire again, but this time he was not so fortunate as he had been with his first shot. Multiple bolts struck the ground around Bron as he charged on all fours towards the Vortian, who quickly expended the weapon’s energy cell and tossed it aside, searching for another weapon.

Just before Bron could reach him though, Rush managed to catch up to the Veniran and lunge forward. His knife stabbed down through a foot, pinning Bron in mid leap and causing the already blood crazed Veniran further pain as he tried to free himself. Rush was kicked back by Bron’s other foot, struck in his already sorely abused ribs. Donthar, in the meantime, had snatched up his crow bar again and proceeded to strike Bron in the face with it.

“PAYBACK!” Donthar snarled, sending several more of the Veniran’s teeth clattering across the floor.

Bron attempted to knock him aside, but this time Donthar had come prepared with the shield he had claimed from his very first opponent: Galahad. When Bron’s fist struck the glowing surface of the shield at least one of his mangled, bloody fingers shattered against the metal, but by this point he didn’t even notice and hit the shield with his other fist. Donthar held against the blows, planting his legs and ignoring the tremors in his arms.

After the fourth hit, Bron was hit from another source. Rush leapt onto the Veniran’s back and sank his sword down to the hilt right through the space between Bron’s neck and shoulder, but due to the average Veniran’s natural bulk this meant that instead of hitting a vital organ and scoring an immediate kill Rush only nicked one of Bron’s lungs before the Veniran’s thrashing sent him tumbling off. Rush nimbly rolled and landed on his feet, standing side by side with Donthar, facing down their foe together.

That spelt the end of Bron within less than a minute.

He pulled his foot free, the knife still impaled through it until his next step when it was pushed out. Donthar and Rush backed up, leaning and ducking out of the way of Bron’s clumsy blows. Donthar caught one swipe of the Veniran’s claws and bashed his shield into Bron’s face, making him lean towards Rush who spun and delivered a professional roundhouse kick to the Veniran’s face. Bron grabbed Rush by the shoulder, but Donthar tossed his shield to the Irken when he held out one hand, which caught the shield and slammed the spiked edge into the thick limb, impaling clean through it and shattering the bones in the forearm. Bron stared dumbly at the limb before Rush bashed him in the face with the shield again and followed up with another kick to the face.

Bron’s advanced became slower, his steps less coordinated. Even with a broken arm he swung both limbs in an effort to just hit one of the two fighters at least once, only once to avenge Kabeir. They passed the shield between each other, working together perfectly despite Donthar’s lack of extensive training and stamina that began to affect the Vortian as much as it did the Veniran. Rush remained agile and mobile, causing more trouble for Bron while Donthar favoured using his shield to block blows and counter with his crowbar.

They reached the end of the walkway and had only a thin metal railing behind them separating them from a four story drop while a raging, half dead, rampaging, seven and a half foot tall beast pressed them towards the edge. Donthar was breathing heavily by now, sweat dripping from every pore in his body while Rush was not showing his fatigue as much.

But now Bron had run out of fuel. He was stumbling forward, arms dangling at his side while blood began to fill his lungs from the many cuts Rush and Donthar had inflicted using the shield left behind by Galahad. Rush was able to take the shield from Donthar one last time and slammed the edge into Bron’s right leg, shattering bone again and making the Veniran topple forward. Both fighters leapt to the side while Bron fell right on the railing...which collapsed under his weight and allowed the Veniran to plummet all the way to the street below where his broken, mutilated body became just another feature in the deserted and crumbling city.

Silence fell as Donthar and Rush stared down, almost unable to believe that the fight was finally over when their foe had been like a demon incarnate, not succumbing to any blow no matter how deadly or crippling. Donthar fell to his knees and coughed, saliva mixing with blood while the crowbar and shield were dropped on either side of him. Rush on the other hand remained standing but was visibly panting, sucking in lungfuls of oxygen without making a sound and unwilling to take his eyes off of Bron’s body for fear that it would get back up and pursue them again.

For nearly a minute that was where they stayed before Rush helped Donthar up and made their way back to where Slicer lay in a heap. The Veniran displayed no anger like his brother had, only silent resignation as he saw the pair walk back into the field of his vision.

“He is dead.” Slicer whispered, watching Rush set Donthar down in a sitting position and receiving a nod in response. “You’ve ended us, Irken. You’ve ended our bloodline.” He glanced down at his torso. “I won’t survive these wounds, not long enough to find medical assistance. You’ve won...and you’ve ended my family.”

Rush knelt in front of the mercenary and typed away on his Interface. -Your brother could have taken my offer and you both would live. You chose this course of action, do not condemn me for fighting in defence of myself and my ally.-

“Ally...and Irken allied with a Vortian,” Slicer chuckled, “Truly the universe has a sense of humour.”

-You were sent for Donthar.- Rush stated. -Why?- When Slicer glanced towards Chrome, who had caught every moment of the battle, Rush added. -He is under my control, you needn’t fear reprisals.-

“A dead man needn’t fear anything, nor hold grudges.” Slicer reminded him. “It was Tallest Candidate Blue, he feared that you intend to free his slave. He wished for us to retrieve him rather than risk letting him be freed.”

That much should have been obvious, in hindsight. Rush should have guessed that Blue would recognize him from what little testimony his guards could provide and deduce his intentions, knowing that he was in the service of the Syndicate. Though Blue could be called many things, a fool was not one of them.

-Are you three the only ones he has sent?-

Slicer shook his head. “We were merely the scouts. Our Captain, Vri’Kal...she will not forgive our deaths, she is loyal to us as much as we are to her in spite of her poor choice in clients.” A small smile grew on his face. “I don’t tell you this to threaten you, but to warn you...she will know of my brothers’ deaths and seek vengeance, though you may be safe from the worst of it, little Vortian.”

Donthar scoffed, having caught his breath. “Pal, I just fought a fuckin’ monster, got tazed two or three times and got a concussion somewhere along the way.” He rubbed the dried blood on the back of his head. “This Captain of yers can bring it on, because I ain’t goin’ back to Ol’Blue Balls and his psycho husband.”

“Then I wish you both fortune in the battles to come.” Slicer sighed, his eyes beginning to fall shut. “Now...go. I wish to just...remember the best of times with my brothers...alone....” His eyes fluttered, and his breathing became weaker.

Rush nodded and rose to his feet with Donthar. They picked up their equipment as well as Rush’s coat and stepped down the stairs, leaving behind the sight of the battle and the stench of burnt bug guts. Both fighters were bruised and sore from the ambush, and only remained standing with help from one another. As they passed Bron’s corpse Rush stopped and knelt down to examine his sword before pulling it out and letting it hang in his hand by his side, the tip leaving a trail of fresh blood behind the duo as they departed.

Xxx

One hour later

Vri’Kal stared at the images being transmitted to her by several drones she had dispatched to search for The Brawn when they had failed to report in.

Kabeir, decapitated.

Slicer, disemboweled and left to bleed out with a peaceful expression on his face.

And Bron...barely recognizable in the broken and bloody heap that he’d been turned into on the sidewalk.

Next to where Vri’Kal was seated in her personal Sky Cycle, Hale bowed his head. “Damn...these two are more dangerous than we thought.” He said, “At least they died together though...I wouldn’t wish any one of them to survive without the other two, not when it would hurt them far more.”

The rest of the Flotsam’s crew sat behind them on their own Sky Cycles, nestled within an alley only a few miles from where the three brothers lay dead.

“How are we going to go about this now?” Ace asked, tapping the stock of his rifle which rested across his lap.

“Targets likely exhausted and wounded,” Doc pointed out, examining the scenes. “Irken and Vortian blood present on chemical scanners. They’re both wounded, badly.”

Vri’Kal dismissed the projected screens. “Then they’ll both be looking for medical supplies.” She said, her face set in a neutral expression. “And that’s where we’ll go to catch them.”

She revved her Sky Cycle, and was mimicked by her four surviving crewmen.

“We take the Vortian alive!” Vri’Kal shouted. “But the assassin...we don’t leave until he’s in the ground, and the Vortian will know the true meaning of pain before we return him to Blue. They’ve taken the lives of three of us and they will pay dearly for it!”

The five rode off, now seeking revenge instead of a pay day.

Xxx

End of Part Two

The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part Two
Part 2 of 4

Rush belongs to me

Donthar and Teivol belong to :iconheavenbat:

Blue belongs to :iconprojecthalfbreed:

Galahad (mentioned belongs to) :icondesiredwatcher:

:iconthe-bloodsport:

LINKS
Part 1  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: The Re-Re CullingThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part One: Acquaintances
Zone One: The City
Downtown
Those who had once dwelled here must have come far before being struck down by whatever had rendered ‘That Planet’ mostly lifeless. The only city to exist on the sole continent told much of its creators by what they had left behind when they had either departed for the stars...or had been struck down somehow.
Vast towers still stood the gauntlet of time and nature, resisting the efforts of powerful winds, violent storms, periodically rising sea levels and the large animals that were more common to this world to buckle their supports. Between them large domes expanded upwards into view, their crystalline carapace cracked yet still reflecting the sunlight brilliantly as the yellow glow of the singular star rose on the eastern horizon. The lower reaches of the city were concealed by a mist originating from the coastline

Part 3  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part ThreeThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Three: Downfall
Zone One: The City
Downtown, Abandoned Hospital, Level Five
Two hours later
While most of the city had fallen to the forces of nature, the hospitals appeared to have fared better due to being better sealed against the outside world. Reinforced doors and windows kept plants and animals from establishing themselves much further than the outer rooms and the lobby. The rest of the building had been pillaged at varying points by scavengers much like the trio of Venirans which Rush and Donthar had encountered hours ago.
“Well, on the bright side I don’t need to put up with Val anymore.” Donthar said, laying on his front.
I know, right?!” Chrome cried ecstatically, spinning around as he circled the Vortian. “Sweet, sweet freedom at last!
Rush approached with a needle

Part 4  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part FourThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Four: Final Step
Zone One: The City
Downtown
En route to the freighter Flotsam
“Aw you’ve gotta be kiddin’ me.”
Donthar kept his head bowed, staring at his manacled hands and legs in sullen silence while his captors stood close by, looking over their Sky Cycles as well as those of their deceased compatriots: the Doc and Griz.
“Sorry boss, looks like while we were all rather preoccupied those little creepers passed through and gunked up the engines on all the bikes.” Ace said, squashing the body of one of ‘them insects’ which had crawled inside his Sky Cycle. “Looks like we’re walking home.”
Vri’kal glanced towards Donthar and then nodded. “Fine, get him up and let’s get moving. Ace, if he so much as tries to make a break for it you shoot his legs out from
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The Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling

Xxx

Part One: Acquaintances

Zone One: The City

Downtown

Those who had once dwelled here must have come far before being struck down by whatever had rendered ‘That Planet’ mostly lifeless. The only city to exist on the sole continent told much of its creators by what they had left behind when they had either departed for the stars...or had been struck down somehow.

Vast towers still stood the gauntlet of time and nature, resisting the efforts of powerful winds, violent storms, periodically rising sea levels and the large animals that were more common to this world to buckle their supports. Between them large domes expanded upwards into view, their crystalline carapace cracked yet still reflecting the sunlight brilliantly as the yellow glow of the singular star rose on the eastern horizon. The lower reaches of the city were concealed by a mist originating from the coastline, masking the predators that prowled and the prey who scrambled for sanctuary.

Rush stood beyond their concerns, both literally and figuratively. He had chosen one of the intact towers for use as a perch, and currently sat on the rounded curve of a roof nearly a hundred stories above the street level. The structure had been chosen for the fact that it still possessed an active form of protection from weather, an envelope projected around it by a device within or below that had miraculously remained functional as another testament to the ingenuity of its creators.

Even as it kept the chilling winds from biting at him all Rush could do was mourn what had been done here to bring such a promising society to ruin. Here he sought to claim a new world for the Infarai, yet he knew now that he would be giving them a graveyard to call home. The oceans appeared to be untouched, but he dared to assume there would be many vast predators beneath the tide who would challenge the Infarai if or when they moved to colonize this world...

Assuming that Rush won or even survived this round.

So...are we moving anytime soon?

Chrome bobbed in the air a few feet from Rush, gazing at the assassin.

I mean you’ve been sitting there for over an hour now. You can’t sit up here all day and night.

Rush typed a response on his Interface.

-Why waste energy needlessly before I even find out who my next opponent is?- He asked. -And for your information: I can stay here all week if required. It is a necessity to my vocation for one to possess patience and endurance.-

Chrome groaned. “Oh dear Machine God give me the strength to endure your patience. Seriously, you could be stuck up here for days before the host bothers to announce the next-HURK.

Rush raised one brow as he watched the drone jerk back and forth erratically before emitting a blue light from its single eye. Thousands of shards of light assembled to form a representation of this season’s host, some manner of machine which appeared to be programmed with simulated emotions that were well within line with what the Irken Empire considered to be acceptable behaviour.

Currently it simulated a face with an expression of wide eyes joy. “Greetings, precious, beautiful contestants! After two rounds of spectacular brutality, only eight of you remain: five Irkens (purebred or otherwise), two Vortians and a single Saurien. That means if any of you see a Planet Jacker, you’re not obligated to kill them, and if you do kill them... hmm... I guess try not to use up your best one liners. Save the good stuff for the real targets – each other!

Exactly the callousness Rush had come to expect from the Empire and Blood Sport.

This has been a big week for all of us. Another planet fell to the Armada’s might, Tallest Red found stuck to his PAK a hard candy lost forever-” Rush rolled his eyes and tuned out the host as it began to go on about sympathy for two armed sentients and waited for it to announce this round’s pairings.

He saw an avatar representing him appear on one side of a box labelled with the letters ‘VS’, and then looked to the opposing figure as a name appeared beneath both...

Rush cursed the universe for being out to get him. As the rest of the recording played out he took note only of the mention of ‘Them Insects’ and the hazard they represented as well as something related to falling. The entire time his eyes remained glued to the image of his intended foe...

Contestant Rush, your opponent is Contestant Donthar!” Chrome announced as Donthar’s image was enlarged, showing a black skinned and green eyed Vortian clad in...very little, basically a loin cloth and some bracelets .

Rush knew his name, knew his face. He knew everything one needed to know about Donthar because years ago this Vortian had been made a high value target, but not for the purpose of killing, but rather for rescuing. He was a member of the Raiders, an affiliated group of the Syndicate with close ties to Wrath himself, taken and enslaved by Tallest Candidate Blue. Rush had been sent to execute the officer who had a hand in Donthar’s capture as well as that of his commander, Zef, resulting in her near execution.

The assassination of this officer had been to send a message to Blue, to warn him that any harm that befell Donthar would bring the vengeance of Wrath down upon him. If Rush had been ordered to he would have killed Blue and Teivol instead, waiting weeks inside their palace to find the perfect opportunity...but he knew that wouldn’t do anything to save Donthar or weaken the Empire. Wrath had also known this and settled for a revenge killing to send a message to those who would harm his closest friends.

And now Rush was tasked with killing one of these friends.

Conclusion: the universe hated him and wanted to alienate him from Wrath by making him kill somebody close to the rebel commander.

So...fortuitous timing, huh?” Chrome inquired. “...now can we get moving-HURK.

For the second time the drone was seized by an outside source, this one temporarily blocking any transmissions to the Blood Sport broadcasting network.

...Dark Dweller Rush,” Chrome drawled, his voice altered to match that of one of the elders of Rush’s tribe. “We congratulate you on your progress thus far, and wish you luck in the battles to come. Furthermore, your colleagues from the Syndicate have bid us to forward the following message to you, directly from Wrath.

Rush tensed up at that last part.

When Chrome spoke again it was with the distorted voice created by Wrath’s battle suit as a means of disguising his true voice. “Rush, you’ve done good, but as I’m sure you’re aware you’ve just been assigned an opponent who has many friends within the Syndicate, just as many as you actually. I can’t order you to lose or to take any risks by sparing him, I can only ask that if you cannot find any reasonable means of affecting an evacuation of Donthar as you did with Kidderance Wilde then you are to at least make his death as painless as possible.

As an afterthought, Wrath added. “Oh...and for the last two rounds he’s been trying to look for a pair of pants. Lend him a hand before you both fight if you see the opportunity. This message will include a record of his size.

Rush glanced at his interface as a small file appeared on the holo-screen.

And Rush...thank you for getting Kid back home.” Wrath said, a touch of warmth slipping into his voice. “Good luck, Wrath out.

Xxx

Donthar knew the universe hated him.

How couldn’t he after all that he’d gone through? Being imprisoned from a young age, escaping and joining a rebel group only to be enslaved and now thrown on some reality death show. In previous seasons he at least would have been able to win his own freedom, but from what he understood all he could win was the damn planet he was stuck on before being shuffled back off to that creepy bastard Blue and his bigger creep of a mate Teivol.

If he lost he’d die, if he won he went back to those two.

“Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap!” Donthar gasped, scrambling over garbage and bones while something slithered behind him, crushing everything in its path while bright golden eyes parted by a narrow black slit pierced the back of his skull.

Oh...and to top it all off he was likely about to die at the hands (metaphorical of course) of one of the few things that he was absolutely terrified of.

Conclusion: the universe hated him and sorely lacked any measure of justice whatsoever.

“No no no nonononononono!” Donthar babbled as he reached the top of a slope and toppled down the other side, narrowly avoiding the snapping fangs of his pursuer.

Further supporting evidence of this hypothesis included the constant brushes with danger. A random teleporter array had carried him to a section of the city’s downtown area that had become enveloped by a flood from the sewers, creating some kind of makeshift swamp through the basements of several buildings. He had unwittingly entered one of these buildings that had been marked as a department store, hoping to seek the adversary that had long eluded him...a pair of pants.

And besides having a large serpent monster chasing after him, the cherry on top of this Travesty Sundae was that there hadn’t been one pair of pants, shorts of even boxers left intact in the store.

“Not like this!”

Donthar dove forward as he entered the front area of the store, followed closely by the snake, which was twice as thick as the Vortian and yet moved almost as fast. Its jaws snapped at his heels as he leapt across counter tops to avoid being bogged down by the waist deep water.

With a scream Donthar flung himself into the open air and aimed towards the nearest window. He chose well, using the amount of cracks in the glass pane to deduce which would be easiest to break with the force of his leap and his own weight. He crossed his arms across his head and tucked his head towards his chest, letting his horns contact the glass surface first and sprawling out into the street in a shower of glass shards. He landed in muck and scrambled to his feet as the snake began to slither its body over the window sill.

“Leave me the florp alone yah slithery bastard!” Donthar demanded as he scrambled out of reach again and moved out of the water towards a stair case leading up out of the flooded section to a bridge which passed over the swamp choked street. “Seriously! I was just tryin’ to shop for some damn pants!”

He reached the top of the stairs and stumbled out onto a sidewalk, but quickly pushed himself up and took off without considering which direction. All that mattered to him was getting as far away from the hissing noise of the creature behind him.

The ground ahead was damaged, with holes breaking through some parts of the road ranging from some so small Donthar could pass over them without notice and others large enough to engulf one of the many abandoned vehicles. He attempted to leap over several moderate sized gaps in the hope of making the serpent fall in its haste, but it easily wove its body between these obstacles.

“Oh come on!” Donthar whined, one hand on his chest as his lungs began to ache and his steps became clumsy.

It was getting close again, and this time there would be little hope of evading it. Donthar gripped the gold painted crowbar which he’d been ‘gifted’ at the start of the tournament, considering how effective it would be if he managed to strike one of the curved, venomous fangs just a few feet behind him.

“Last chance! Piss off or I’ll- or I’ll-” Donthar didn’t have enough breath left to waste on words and twisted his body around, swinging his crowbar with as much strength as he could put behind the motion and felt it strike something hard while a buzzing sound filled the air.

Clink!

Donthar had shut his eyes without realizing it, and managed to crack one open just a bit to see that his crowbar had struck one of the serpent’s fangs...and had not even cracked it, yet the beast remained just inches away from him with its maw open wide.

“Uh...?” Donthar blinked and leaned to the side to see that the rest of the serpent’s body was still moving, writhing on the ground with almost five feet of space between it and its own severed head.

And the source of the buzzing noise stood between the body and neck, crouched on one knee with a bright, crackling energy field surrounding them from head to toe while evaporating blood rose off of a sword it held in both hands as steam, emitting an odor which made Donthar almost gag as the energy field faded to reveal a long dark coat and the green skin of an Irken.

Rush twirled his sword once and examined the blade to ensure it was clean before sliding it back into its concealed sheathe. He glanced at the Vortian standing just within sight of his peripheral vision and slowly inhaled; he prepared himself for what would come next.

Donthar reached over his shoulder and slid a shield down his arm by its strap and then held it up defensively in one hand and his crowbar in the other. The edges of the shield glowed an ominous red as he stared suspiciously at his mysterious ‘saviour’.

“Who are you?” Donthar demanded, “And what’s yer stance on the Empire?”

Rush turned his body to face Donthar and tilted his head curiously.

“Well? Speak up!” Donthar held his crowbar up threateningly. “Say somethin’!”

Moving slowly so as not to startle the Vortian into doing anything drastic, Rush held one hand to his own throat, gently cupping the space between his jaw and collarbone. He held it there for three seconds before lowering his hand back to his side and then shook his head.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Donthar asked, “What are yah mute or...”

The Vortian’s aggression evaporated as he realized his mistake.

“Oh...uh...sorry,” He smiled sheepishly. “Uh...”

Donthar!

A tiny figure flew out from one of the nearby alleyways and hovered next to the Vortian. It was humanoid in shape, stubby limbs attached to its body electromagnetically while a round black camera lens lay on its chest. Its face had a tiny black line for a mouth while a screen just above that held two purple eyes. Transmitters adorned the sides of its head.

Oh dear me, that was such a fright!” The drone said in a feminine voice. “I told you that this would be what comes of prioritizing your vanity over your survival!

Donthar rolled his eyes and groaned in irritation. “Yeah, yer advice is real appreciated right now Val. Little too busy for that right now in case yah failed to notice.”

Val looked from him to Rush and back again as Chrome floated down into view.

Wow,” Chrome tilted his body, “They really made some of the other drones sound like utter panty waists.

Val simulated a gasp. “Excuse me?!

You heard me,” Chrome chuckled. “Pretty up that body all you like, that voice synthesize is atrocious.

Why how dare you- wait.” Val looked at Rush and gasped again. “Donthar! Don’t you know who this is?! Why are you standing so close to him?!

“Well uh...he just saved me from that snake so I thought I’d at least hear him out-” Donthar began before Val flew up to his face, startling him.

No! No! No! Donthar, this man is an assassin, a cold blooded killer with over a hundred individual contracts to his name and many times that number of kills behind him! And more importantly he is your designated opponent! If he saved you it was only so he could kill you himself!

“Wait, what?” Donthar dropped the shield taken from his deceased foe Galahad and scratched his head. “But that doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, I mean if he let that thing kill me-”

He has killed countless people for money and for the perverse thrill of the act!” Val waved her arms. “You cannot let your guard down around one such as him! I urge you to attack immediately!

Donthar looked at the severed head of the snake and swallowed once as his hand wandered to his own throat, a phantom pain crossing his neck. “Uh...I dunno how well that’d go down to be honest.”

Rush held up one arm and activated his Holo-Interface. Donthar tensed up and held his crow bar with both hands as he watched Rush create a screen which floated a few feet in front of the Irken. A message was typed out across it in moments before the screen was turned so that Donthar could read it appropriately.

-I am one of the many hands of the Wrath of Irk.-

That immediately caused Donthar to drop his crowbar as his eyes scrolled across the screen several times. His mind processed those twelve words and the meaning they held to him...

This man before him was one of many assassins who served Wrath, who Donthar knew as a good friend by the name of Risk Gamble. None would dare falsely pledge their alignment to the Syndicate or Wrath, not when the consequences of such a falsehood involved great agony.

He was standing in the presence of a man who would have been his greatest ally in any other circumstance. An assassin in the service of the Syndicate was one who had been forced to prove themselves in a trial by fire and continue to renew their guarantee of competence to Wrath time and time again.

And now Donthar had to fight one.

What? Donthar, what are you doing?” Val waved her arms as she flew in front of him again. “What is on that screen? I can’t see!

Chrome glanced at the screen. “What are you talking about? I can read it just fine-oh...clever, he’s spiked you with a virus that keeps you from reading what he’s typing.

Rush typed a second message. -I know of you Donthar, and you needn’t fear me. It is important that you conceal your reaction to what I’m about to say.-

He gave Donthar a few moments to read this and prepare himself before typing a new entry.

-I intend to free you and fake your death.-

Donthar almost sucked in a breath and released it as a relieved sob, blinking several times to keep any tears from creeping out. All that anyone who watched this conversation would see is Donthar suddenly breathing heavily, possibly from fear.

-If I am to do this we must conduct an appropriate ruse so that it will fool the audience and the administrators long enough for you to be retrieved. For now we must pretend that we have entered a truce.- Rush typed out, -Do you understand?-

Donthar nodded and swallowed. “Yeah, yeah...I gotcha,” He said shakily, “A truce...til I get me somethin’ decent to wear.”

The Vortian may have been a slave for over a year, but Rush saw that he still had the sensibility of a rebel fighter.

A- a TRUCE?!” Val shrieked. “Donthar!

“Ah shaddup Val, you worry too much.” Donthar pushed the drone aside. “And get in my face like that one more time and I’m stickin’ you in a jar.”

He forced himself to refrain from smiling up at Rush. “Let’s go find those pants.”

Rush nodded. -Lets.-

Xxx

Planet Irk

The Palace of Tallest Candidate Blue, Blue’s Quarters

The personal quarters of Tallest Candidate Blue were dimly lit, the blinds drawn over grand windows and the doors sealed while the only source of light in the luxurious quarters was the active computer screen hovering several feet away from the only two occupants.

“And you’re certain that this,” Blue gestured to the screen as it showed the image of Donthar’s third opponent, “Is the same assassin who deprived us of our new security chief several months ago?”

Standing next to where the Tallest candidate was presently lounging, Teivol shook his head.

“No,” He admitted, “I’m not certain at all, but he matches the profile.”

Picking up a remote, Teivol replaced the live footage of the match with an artist’s depiction of the assassin who had infiltrated the palace and eliminated their recently hired chief of security, Bizz. This had been a revenge hit by Blue’s distant relative, Risk, otherwise known as the Wrath of Irk. Bizz’s body had been left in the bedroom which Blue and Teivol reserved for the nights where they could be alone, her head on her stomach and the bodies of a half dozen guards around her.

Since then conflict between the Syndicate and the Empire had escalated here ever Blue had agents or property. Risk had intended to make it clear that any restraint between them born of their blood relation would no longer apply.

“The assassin hired by your...dear cousin,” Teivol frowned, “Has approximately the same exact height, build, proficiency and unique arsenal of weapons. Every program that I’ve run has made matches ranging between sixty to seventy five percent. It would be more accurate but without camera footage we have little to go on.”

Blue nodded. “In that case there is a measurable chance that our dear pet Donthar is in the company of someone from the employ of my hated cousin. If so then Donthar may view this as an ideal opportunity to attempt to escape from our custody.” He laced his fingers. “That is unacceptable.”

Teivol smirked. “The chances of him managing to escape from a tournament run by a Control Brain are slim, but perhaps we should add some...extra insurance.”

Tossing the remote up and down, Teivol shrugged and added. “Though it may be a moot point, Risk may not look too favourably on this assassin after the first round.”

“Given how much I would prefer to bring this one back alive I think some insurance may be welcome, necessary or not.” Blue decided, “Let’s hear your plan.”

Teivol leaned down to Blue’s antennae and began to whisper...because apparently that’s how every scene involving a nefarious plan is supposed to end before cutting away.

Xxx

End of Part 1

The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: The Re-Re Culling
Part 1 of 4

Rush belongs to me

Donthar and Teivol belong to :iconheavenbat:

Blue belongs to :iconprojecthalfbreed:

:iconthe-bloodsport:

LINKS
Part 2  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part TwoThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Two: Conspiracies
Zone One: The City
Downtown
“So...you really can’t speak?” Donthar asked, trudging along next to Rush through a wide open plaza encircling a fountain. “At all?”
Rush nodded, but what he typed was of a completely different topic. -If I am going to free you, I first need to be certain that Blue has no way of tracking or recapturing you. Can I assume that those bands you wear around your arms are used as a sort of restraint when activated remotely?-
“Aw I dunno,” Donthar sighed and rapped his crowbar twice against a car they were passing. “I meant it wouldn’t surprise me if my luck was that bad.”
In the half hour since they had started searching for a clothing store the two had quickly formed a system of secretly communicating even as they exchanged idle chit chat

Part 3  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part ThreeThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Three: Downfall
Zone One: The City
Downtown, Abandoned Hospital, Level Five
Two hours later
While most of the city had fallen to the forces of nature, the hospitals appeared to have fared better due to being better sealed against the outside world. Reinforced doors and windows kept plants and animals from establishing themselves much further than the outer rooms and the lobby. The rest of the building had been pillaged at varying points by scavengers much like the trio of Venirans which Rush and Donthar had encountered hours ago.
“Well, on the bright side I don’t need to put up with Val anymore.” Donthar said, laying on his front.
I know, right?!” Chrome cried ecstatically, spinning around as he circled the Vortian. “Sweet, sweet freedom at last!
Rush approached with a needle

Part 4  The Bloodsport Season 4 Round 3: Part FourThe Bloodsport: Round Three, The Re-Re-Culling
Xxx
Part Four: Final Step
Zone One: The City
Downtown
En route to the freighter Flotsam
“Aw you’ve gotta be kiddin’ me.”
Donthar kept his head bowed, staring at his manacled hands and legs in sullen silence while his captors stood close by, looking over their Sky Cycles as well as those of their deceased compatriots: the Doc and Griz.
“Sorry boss, looks like while we were all rather preoccupied those little creepers passed through and gunked up the engines on all the bikes.” Ace said, squashing the body of one of ‘them insects’ which had crawled inside his Sky Cycle. “Looks like we’re walking home.”
Vri’kal glanced towards Donthar and then nodded. “Fine, get him up and let’s get moving. Ace, if he so much as tries to make a break for it you shoot his legs out from
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Stolen from :iconmurd3r3r:

Years RPing: I began sometime just before I entered high school so...about 8 years now.


Least favorite character?: I can't really decide that. Even my bad characters have so much care out into them that I can't hate them.


Male or female characters?: Both


Oldest character played?: Skullene would be my first character ever created, but the oldest....Azure.


Longest you've played a character?: I had a few very long RPs going on focusing on my OC Riskellion 'Risk' Gamble in past years.


Newest character?: My most recent OC from before I mostly dropped the IZ fandom would be Val'arei (who I adopted)



Which character of yours would be most likely to...



Jump off a bridge?: Rimak, he's reckless that way.


Get drunk and pass out?: Rimak's father Rik, following the death of his wife and Rimak's half/adoptive brothers Ouri and Fren


Kill somebody in a very unorthodox way?: Kay, who would use her 'head smeet' powers to appear on top of their heads and hit them with a wrench.


Be far too hyper for their own good?: Kay, definitely Kay.


Be raped?: That's...sort of weird to ask, but...well...Skullene's canon story did involve such an event in her past.


Get lost and refuse to ask for directions?: Rimak again


Get lung cancer?: Rimak. Again. 


Star in a horror movie?: Darke the Vycan


Star in a whore movie?: ...Darke the Vycan, again


Star in a video game?: Risk would gladly make a game based on his Wrath persona and base it on one of the Batman Arkham video games.


Make the world a better place?: Risk, hands down.


Have a torrid gay love affair?: .......too many gay or bi characters to count.


Relate each word to a character of yours:

Love - Rine, Risk, Skullene, Panny, Fren
Hate - Rimak, Vithak
Money - Rimak, Rush
Seduction - Skullene, Panny, Shirohebi
Lies - Vithak
Tragedy - Rikalo
Manipulation - Risk, Darke
Violence - Risk, Rimak
Politics - Shirohebi (ambassador ftw)
Fire - Risk
Ice - Rine

Would you ever...
Play a prostitute?: Yes
Play a musician?: Yes
Play a pilot?: Yes
Play a homosexual?: Pretty much most of my OCs are either gay or bi
Play a pedophile?: Hells no...except for said pedophile to have a well deserved beating.
Play a politician?: Yes.
Play a character who commits incest?: That might be a stretch but...sure?

Character you'd most like to have over for tea?: Rush, since he's so courteous and would make the tea for me.

Character you'd most like to have as a sibling?: Kay, who would be my adorable little sister with a tendency for breaking things apart and putting them back together better than new. Or Rimak, because there's nothing he wouldn't do for one of his siblings despite how he behaves,

Character you'd most like to be friends with?:...I'll go with Lok, Loe and Kay since they're usually the most relaxed of my OCs.

Character you'd most like to have as a cousin?: Hm...Risk

Character you'd most like to have an adventure with?: Lok, Loe and Kay for sure! Let the wackiness commence!

Favorite quirky character?: Kay and Carlos are tied

Favorite love-to-hate character?: Vithak or Rizz

Favorite bad guy?: Rykan. B)
Stolen from :iconmurd3r3r:

Years RPing: I began sometime just before I entered high school so...about 8 years now.


Least favorite character?: I can't really decide that. Even my bad characters have so much care out into them that I can't hate them.


Male or female characters?: Both


Oldest character played?: Skullene would be my first character ever created, but the oldest....Azure.


Longest you've played a character?: I had a few very long RPs going on focusing on my OC Riskellion 'Risk' Gamble in past years.


Newest character?: My most recent OC from before I mostly dropped the IZ fandom would be Val'arei (who I adopted)



Which character of yours would be most likely to...



Jump off a bridge?: Rimak, he's reckless that way.


Get drunk and pass out?: Rimak's father Rik, following the death of his wife and Rimak's half/adoptive brothers Ouri and Fren


Kill somebody in a very unorthodox way?: Kay, who would use her 'head smeet' powers to appear on top of their heads and hit them with a wrench.


Be far too hyper for their own good?: Kay, definitely Kay.


Be raped?: That's...sort of weird to ask, but...well...Skullene's canon story did involve such an event in her past.


Get lost and refuse to ask for directions?: Rimak again


Get lung cancer?: Rimak. Again. 


Star in a horror movie?: Darke the Vycan


Star in a whore movie?: ...Darke the Vycan, again


Star in a video game?: Risk would gladly make a game based on his Wrath persona and base it on one of the Batman Arkham video games.


Make the world a better place?: Risk, hands down.


Have a torrid gay love affair?: .......too many gay or bi characters to count.


Relate each word to a character of yours:

Love - Rine, Risk, Skullene, Panny, Fren
Hate - Rimak, Vithak
Money - Rimak, Rush
Seduction - Skullene, Panny, Shirohebi
Lies - Vithak
Tragedy - Rikalo
Manipulation - Risk, Darke
Violence - Risk, Rimak
Politics - Shirohebi (ambassador ftw)
Fire - Risk
Ice - Rine

Would you ever...
Play a prostitute?: Yes
Play a musician?: Yes
Play a pilot?: Yes
Play a homosexual?: Pretty much most of my OCs are either gay or bi
Play a pedophile?: Hells no...except for said pedophile to have a well deserved beating.
Play a politician?: Yes.
Play a character who commits incest?: That might be a stretch but...sure?

Character you'd most like to have over for tea?: Rush, since he's so courteous and would make the tea for me.

Character you'd most like to have as a sibling?: Kay, who would be my adorable little sister with a tendency for breaking things apart and putting them back together better than new. Or Rimak, because there's nothing he wouldn't do for one of his siblings despite how he behaves,

Character you'd most like to be friends with?:...I'll go with Lok, Loe and Kay since they're usually the most relaxed of my OCs.

Character you'd most like to have as a cousin?: Hm...Risk

Character you'd most like to have an adventure with?: Lok, Loe and Kay for sure! Let the wackiness commence!

Favorite quirky character?: Kay and Carlos are tied

Favorite love-to-hate character?: Vithak or Rizz

Favorite bad guy?: Rykan. B)

Thinking of going for the second season Resisty Uprising. Who do you think I should use? 

29%
4 deviants said Risk (he's yet to be in one)
21%
3 deviants said Lenia (her husband already went and joined a tournament, she might as well get suckered into one too)
14%
2 deviants said Envon (he definitely needs to be brought out of the closet of lost OCs)
14%
2 deviants said Emkol (My first PlanetJacker)
7%
1 deviant said Skullene (she's won every other oct she's been in)
7%
1 deviant said Rik (he lost at Bloodsport but is ready and willing to fight)
7%
1 deviant said Daelias (She'd be right at home with killing her fellow prisoners/opponents)
0%
No deviants said Paneece (she needs her time in the spotlight)
0%
No deviants said Rimak (just as ready as his dad and a lot younger)
0%
No deviants said Connor Carroway (a tribrid of Irken, human and a DNA parasite who could do with some time in the spotlight)

deviantID

Thinking of going for the second season Resisty Uprising. Who do you think I should use? 

29%
4 deviants said Risk (he's yet to be in one)
21%
3 deviants said Lenia (her husband already went and joined a tournament, she might as well get suckered into one too)
14%
2 deviants said Envon (he definitely needs to be brought out of the closet of lost OCs)
14%
2 deviants said Emkol (My first PlanetJacker)
7%
1 deviant said Skullene (she's won every other oct she's been in)
7%
1 deviant said Rik (he lost at Bloodsport but is ready and willing to fight)
7%
1 deviant said Daelias (She'd be right at home with killing her fellow prisoners/opponents)
0%
No deviants said Paneece (she needs her time in the spotlight)
0%
No deviants said Rimak (just as ready as his dad and a lot younger)
0%
No deviants said Connor Carroway (a tribrid of Irken, human and a DNA parasite who could do with some time in the spotlight)

Groups

Donate

RiskellionGamble has started a donation pool!
750 / 600
I'm looking to get a subscription, but at the rate I spend my points I will have some trouble. For now...I'm just hoping anybody who likes some of the stories I put up might donate a few. I am in no way pressuring anybody to, I'm only saying it would be appreciated-plus I can still collect points the old fashioned way...though for some reason I can't access my badges page to give away badges for points. I managed to get to it using my computer's history, but I'm honestly not sure if that was supposed to happen or if it's another error. Either way, I chose to open this.

The only thing I could offer right now would be a written entry with one of your own characters in it. If you would like one in return for points, just say so.

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Comments


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:iconerinprimette:
ErinPrimette Featured By Owner 3 hours ago  Student Digital Artist
So, do you have any favorite Youtube video game reviewers?
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:iconriskelliongamble:
RiskellionGamble Featured By Owner 3 hours ago
I'd say XPGgamer or Jackepticeye.
Reply
:iconerinprimette:
ErinPrimette Featured By Owner 3 hours ago  Student Digital Artist
I see. My favorite Youtube video game reviewer is Caddicarus.
Reply
:iconriskelliongamble:
RiskellionGamble Featured By Owner 3 hours ago
Cant say I've ever seen that person.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconphuvuong:
phuvuong Featured By Owner 4 days ago
Thanks for the fav! And best of luck with your writing! definitely hard to build a following as a writer myself haha. Well it is at least for me. But hoping to infuse the art side of things from upcoming projects to get some more attention!
Reply
:iconerinprimette:
ErinPrimette Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Student Digital Artist
I posted Chapters 29 and 30, although I'm preparing 30 for Fanfiction.net.
Reply
:iconerinprimette:
ErinPrimette Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Student Digital Artist
On another side note, have you heard of David Attenborough?
Reply
:iconriskelliongamble:
RiskellionGamble Featured By Owner 6 days ago
I can't say that I have. And working on my next note, just slow since I'm on a phone at the moment.
Reply
:iconerinprimette:
ErinPrimette Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2016  Student Digital Artist
On my previous note, I was supposed to say ladybug exhibit, but I goofed up and said butterfly exhibit.
Reply
:iconerinprimette:
ErinPrimette Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Ever heard of Adam Ruins Everything? I have a headcanon where Ultron loves that show.
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