Jane leaned forward in her chair as Leaf returned to the audience, looking dishevelled. Behind him a med drone was getting Shaddi's body onto the stretcher. The other crushers assessed the Sprout clan-member warily, with sneaky eyes. Jane had seen her friend's power during practice, but it was the first time she'd watched him in an all-out fight.
"Hey, great work! Congratulations."
"Another Godrid down." He tried to smirk at those overhearing, but his smile was impish. He was shaken.
"You alright Leaf?"
"I'm going to head off to the medical bay. Sorry, Jane. I better make sure I'm doing alright, my regeneration isn't perfect and I want to make sure there's no internal damage. I'll check up on how Marine's doing, and maybe that lightning friend of yours, Lyle-whatever."
"Oh… okay. If that's what you think is best."
"If I don't get back in time to see your fight… sorry."
"Don't worry about it." Jane smiled despite herself. "I'll be fine." She hoped so. Both her friends had won and so the pressure was on.
As Leaf turned away and walked to the exit Jane felt the others' eyes on her. How much longer would she have to wait for her turn? Was she the very last contestant? She wanted it over with already, but she was also terrified she'd be up next. Jane forced herself to calm down. She could do this.
The three elementals were having another tense discussion about the fight. The potential of the last contenders. Then they stepped back and Chris waved his black sleeve toward the screen, absently.
"Let's move right along! The next combatant is…" the screen whirred through the remaining photos, Jane could see her face appearing much more frequently. "…number twelve! Evan Powers!"
"Rightio that's me!" Evan slapped his hands to his knees cheerfully before getting to his feet. "Let's have a nice clean match, guys!" There was that winning smile again as he strode out toward the field. Even Ophelia raised her eyebrows.
Jane watched him go and wondered what was up with that Evan guy. He was much too casual and relaxed, like a game-show host.
"And his opponent is…" Blake pointed his staff at the screen. "…number sixteen! Samson Sanders!"
The dark-haired boy sitting next to Claire stood, wearing a curious frown as he tromped over to face his opponent in the grassy field.
Jane turned away to study the faces left behind. Only four contestants left, including her. That meant she was either fighting Lorac - the shrimpy purple-haired boy, Victor – the black-haired lava douche, or Ophelia – the grey-skinned, yellow-eyed psycho girl. She returned her gaze forward with a frown.
"Begin at the siren!" Chris reminded them. The two boys stared at each other. Evan was confident, Samson determined.
At the sound of the alarm both boys tensed – a good sign. They weren't working with indestructible bodies or monstrous summonings. Samson curled his hands together and a bright orange flare started hissing noisily between them, smoking and sparking. Evan barely changed his posture, he looked ready. Professional. Jane narrowed her eyes at the light, it sorta looked like…
Samson splayed his hand and the firecracker launched. Like a rocket it flew toward Evan who immediately raced away. He ran in a wide arc, the firework passed him and exploded. A loud bang that made Jane cringe, orange sparks flying metres apart. They sizzled into the grass. Samson moved backwards and Evan went to follow but stopped as his opponent aimed a pink one. It launched with a hiss, Evan barely jumping out of the way. A high-pitched pfffft and crack, exploding in another flurry of lights.
"Samson can shoot fireworks." Victor mused. That did pretty much sum up the power, as far as Jane could tell.
Evan tried stepping around, Samson turned with him and kept walking backwards. He held both hands out, a green and purple firecracker spawning in each. He tossed them one after the other. The green whipped out in a low line, buzzing lethally past Evan's quick feet. The purple one had a spin to it, it looped and bounced before cracking in another loud burst. Small fires were burning through patches of grass.
Fireworks were beautiful in colour, but seeing them going off so close made Jane tense. If one accidentally launched in their direction, they could get hurt. And they sure were loud.
"Evan can't get close…" the white-robed Zac mused.
"But Samson can't afford for him to get close." The hooded Chris responded. "His power is too dangerous. He's a long-range fighter."
"Shame he can't seem to remote-control the fireworks after he tosses them though," Blake spoke pensively, stroking his beard.
Evan was scowling in frustration, but he proved to be just as agile as Claire. Perhaps even more so. He sprang several feet into the air, twisted acrobatically and landed with ease. He couldn't be knocked off-balance. Samson was now tossing the multi-hued fireworks faster and faster, trying to get an opening. His brow furrowed with his intensity. Evan summersaulted over a red firework, ducking backwards immediately after landing to dodge the blue one matrix-style. Then he straightened with ease. The audience made appreciative O-sounds.
"What is Evan's power?" Chris asked the other elemental.
"It's quite simple really," Blake puffed his chest out pompously. "Evan Powers' power is to have no power!"
"What?" Zac wasn't following.
"Apart from being awesome, that is. Evan is simply an awesome guy. Great at conversation, at being a really chill dude. Evan is just an awesome guy."
"Evan's power is to be awesome?" Chris didn't believe it.
"What does that have to do with his agility?" Zac pressed.
"Well Evan is just awesome at normal things. So he's good at fighting too."
"But there's no potential for a power like that." Chris said dully.
"Oh what do you want from me?" Blake snapped. "I was running low on ideas, okay?"
The audience gasped as Evan cartwheeled through the air, his hands left the ground and he spun vertically before landing on his feet with expert grace. Samson had been furiously spamming the last of his power. He thrusted his palm out again but only smoke hissed out. His face dropped into shock. Evan immediately sprinted to cover the distance.
"You can't spam a power, you'll run out of energy." Zac shook his head. "Everyone knows that."
Samson watched Evan running toward him. The dark-haired guy turned and started running away. Samson fled to another corner, Evan curving to chase him. Evan was faster, soon he jumped and dive-tackled Samson into the ground.
Having no other tool but his own fists, Evan started throwing punches from on top while the helpless Samson tried to shield his face. It was not a special or magical way to fight, and Jane felt uncomfortable seeing it. The audience of teens cringed awkwardly as the two boys tussled and beat each other bloody. Evan was the better fighter though, and he couldn't afford for Samson to get his power back, he got a few good hits to the head before Samson's arms fell and his eyes lolled. The scuffle and startled grunting didn't take long.
Evan stepped away, panting and wiping the sweat from his forehead. His knuckles were blood-smeared.
"Just great at conversation." Blake continued to say. "Anyhoo, I better declare this fight over so we can get medical treatment for your crusher."
Chris was just shaking his head as his companion turned to call the match.
"Evan Powers is the winner!"
The uncomfortable silence was akin to slow clapping in Jane's mind. Another robot hovered through the grass and produced another stretcher for the loser.
"Well I do feel bad about all that." Evan told the other crushers as he returned to the seats. "Maybe I'll make him a 'get well' cake? I know some mighty fine recipes-"
"Sit down, Evan." Claire snapped. He did so and stopped talking.