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    Invnarcel
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the Mini-Crusher-Tournie - 13. Second Match

The children started to scream while the older patrons put a hand to their chest in dismay. Some of the teens made obnoxious 'O' sounds. Someone ran to Jane's side while Chris stepped up and spread his arms. A med drone hovered by, past Jane, toward the more injured combatant. While Chris started calming the audience down and assuring them of the unparalleled healing skills of their machinery, Jane could hear it was Marine crouched beside her.

"Jane! Jane, are you okay?" she sounded teary.

"Ugh." She pushed herself up onto all fours, groaning before sitting back. Marine's hand was on her shoulder. Jane was still a bit fuzzy in the head after all those hits. Bruising and swelling in multiple places. Evan had got so close to winning. In her last battle Victor had barely hurt her, now she was feeling it. Someone was standing beside her, she looked up to see her white-robed elemental. Blake raised an eyebrow and looked stern.

"Are you going to be okay to walk to the med room, Jane?"

"No." she fought to her feet, would've swayed dangerously if it weren't for Marine still holding on. "I want to stay and watch the rest of the fights."

"You're in no condition to." Blake answered.

"Jane, you need to get looked at…" Marine said.

"Have one of the med drones check me out in the stands then." Jane insisted, trying to stand still.

"Fine." Blake turned with his staff and swept away.

Jane walked with Marine, though she was sure her friend wouldn't be allowed to sit with her. They got to the stands before Jane asked the question nagging at her mind. The stretcher carrying Evan away disappeared from the room.

"Marine… is Evan alive?" she felt like the answer was obvious to everyone, but she couldn't process it.

"It doesn't look good." Her friend answered, sounding sad. "We'll have to see."

A uniformed worker could be seen whispering into Chris's ear, his mouth was a tight line and he gave a grim nod. Surely not…? Marine went away, back to her seat at a look from Blake. Workers used pressurised water backpacks to clean away Jane's blood and the remnants of her teeth. While they waited for it to dry Jane was picked and prodded by the robotic droid beside her.

There were scans, it flashed a little torch in her eye, wiped antiseptic over her wounds. Picked and prodded with tiny metal fingers, Jane started to feel numb. Leaf gave her a sympathetic smile from across the room. The audience excitedly discussed the fight during the intermission, and in no time it was ready for the next one.

"And without further delay we can move on to the second match!" Blake announced.

The four-sided screen flickered and revealed the names. Lyle Zappos vs Dan.

That blonde guy was the second fight in the initial rounds too, if memory served. Dan tromped over in his boots, gloves and overcoat. The audience was quietly curious by his bizarre appearance. Lyle got up, despite the fact he seemed to be facing dire odds yet again. He stepped into the square and the pillars lit up once the two of them were in.

They stood ten feet away, Dan smiled and Lyle gulped. The countdown pulled the audience back in. When the airhorn sounded Lyle tensed. The indestructible Dan remained unfazed, then he charged. His moves were awkward and slow in his get-up, Lyle had time to prepare before darting aside. He was nimble and swift, shooting away and skidding so there was a good distance between them.

"Hmph." Dan looked over his shoulder, likening Lyle's evasion to cowardice.

The audience inhaled when yellow electricity began crackling over Lyle's body. He readied two fingers as Dan turned and ran toward him, his boots thudding heavily. Looking like he was ready to dodge. Lyle pointed and fired a bolt of lightning. It hit Dan and he gasped, falling forward with enough weight to shake the room.

Everyone was shocked. Dan looked shocked, bent over on all fours and grimacing as sparks raced across his body. Lyle looked shocked, blinking. Jane felt the shock on her face as well.

"Lysander was careful." Chris could be heard murmuring from close-by. "Cloud Dragons were a species of dragon that were quite enormous, powerful… and weak against the lightning element. He knew making a crusher that powerful would be dangerous to him, unless they were weak against his own element. Blake recreated Lysander's idea, so although the version's different they still have the same weakness."

Lyle could win! The words blared in Jane's mind. Nobody else, not her, Leaf, Marine, Claire, Ophelia… none of the other contestants had a way to get through his invulnerable skin, or beat his super-strength. But Lyle could do it. And clear the way so the rest of them had a chance to win the tournament. She could sense that the others were mentally cheering for Lyle as well.

"Heh." He smirked. Where once was fear, now he was elated.

"Don't laugh at me!" Dan raised a gloved fist and punched the floorboards.

The magic reinforcement kept them from breaking, but it reverberated to the stands. The audience gasped. The elemental referees were unsteady and Lyle stumbled. Such strength! It seemed Dan knew he'd need to shed his clothes to move faster. His clunky gloves fell, he whipped off the long trench coat, even kicking off the boots.

Dan squatted on all fours, with his elongated nails and toenails, that free-flowing waist-length hair, he looked like a Wildman who'd spent his life away from civilisation. It was weird to see him without all those coverings. The way he perched like an animal to pounce, he looked more nimble already.

Jane had a bad feeling – Dan really was strong.

"Here I come!" Dan called.

Lyle's nerves returned. He began charging up yellow electricity for another shot, his hair going spikier. Dan used his strength to kick off the ground, and he flew like a bullet toward Lyle. Those nails moving to slash through him, hair trailing behind.

Lyle ducked and dodged. Dan skidded to a stop before leaving the zone, he whipped back around. He's not so much fast, but he can use his strength for speed. Lyle ducked mad swipes from those claws, moving back to the centre of the square. Dan grunting, jumping with his strikes. That hair flowing after him like a mane. He dropped and kicked Lyle's stomach with the heel of his foot, the long toenails thankfully not connecting.

Dan reached for Lyle's shirt before he could fall; it looked like he was going to headbutt him. The sparks around Lyle's body suddenly surged and he glowed with yellow light, lightning raced across his body and Dan went taut as the current rocked through him. Lyle was like a human-sized birthday sparkler. After a few seconds the light went away and Dan's fingers slipped, numb.

"He can emit lightning from his whole body at once!" Blake observed, forgetting the little microphone was back at his mouth.

Lyle whipped around the paralysed Dan, an arm around his neck in a chokehold. Pulling back, gritting his teeth in preparation. Jane knew what was next: he was going to make his whole body electric again and zap Dan into unconsciousness, like Shiro. Before he could unleash his power, Dan wriggled and reached back, leaning forward and throwing Lyle off him. The blonde guy hit the ground and slid to the centre.

The audience ahhhed with anticipation and enjoyment. The two guys were separated, Lyle getting up on one knee, wincing and sore. Dan panting as the sparks dotted his figure. A brief pause amidst their impressive fight.

"Lyle is quite a skilled boy, as you'll all see." Chris smirked to his apprentice, Zac looked over curiously. "With only two crushers in these tertiary rounds it was easier to focus my time. Ophelia is an experimental crusher, so it's unknown how her power could expand. Lyle can manipulate the flow of his electricity, he even learnt how to use it to augment his reflexes, which is a skill Godrid Lightning users can master. And another thing…"

The fight resumed. Dan launched off his feet and began zig-zagging toward his opponent. He practiced for this fight as well, just in case. Dan must've known there was a chance he could be vulnerable to Lyle's lightning. Lyle readied two fingers to aim with, yellow lightning racing along his body.

He focussed and his electricity condensed, zapping more wildly and changing hue.

"Is that…?" Jane couldn't believe it.

Lightning was hitting the ground around him, and it was blue. Blue lightning! Did he learn how to do it in a week? Despite all her practice, Jane hadn't been able to learn the colour above regular fire. Lyle learnt the colour above regular lightning, even though that was supposed to be rare. He really is a skilled boy.

The blue lightning glowed bright from the palm of his right hand. By the way Lyle fought to stand it seemed to sap a lot of energy. Dan darted and then whipped toward him, Lyle shot to meet him like a bolt of lightning himself. They both stabbed with their hands.

Blue light flashed and then vanished. Lyle withdrew his fingers from Dan's sternum, they were bloodied. A hole in Dan's shirt, the material and skin burned. Dan's strike had been deflected, the nails piercing through Lyle's shoulder instead of a vital spot. Dan leaned away, his eyes lolling back. He fell backward, his nails withdrawing from Lyle who fell to his knees, gripping his shoulder and twitching as the blood quickly stained the material of his shirt.

The med droids went into action. Lyle had managed his second win, though once again not unscathed.

Copyright © 2020 Invnarcel; All Rights Reserved.
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