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    Invnarcel
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the Mini-Crusher-Tournie - 8. Seventh Match

"And then there were four." Chris looked stern, his hands behind his back. Those red-tinted eyes gleamed at the remaining combatants in turn. The audience was seven, the four who hadn't yet fought were serious and still. The shadow elemental raised his chin "This next selection will determine who is fighting who in the last two matches. Good luck."

He spun away. Jane felt the dread descending upon her. A sense of doom. It absolutely was best to get these fights over and done with. The black-haired girl combed a strand of hair behind her ear, fingers numb with nerves. There was a fifty-percent chance she'd be called next. But no, Jane was sure she'd be called next. She was about to find out who her opponent would be.

Blake pointed his staff at the screen "Come on! Show us the money!"

The audience watched as the final combatants were selected. While Victor and Ophelia had been chummy Godrids before, they weren't so close now that they reckoned they could be fighting each other.

"Number nine!" Chris declared. "Lorac Belle!"

The purple-haired boy took a deep breath and made his way uncertainly toward the field. Jane watched him go, he looked like the least threatening of the opponents left. But looks could be deceiving.

"And his opponent is…" Chris waited until the final screen stopped with a glowing flash. "Number fourteen! Ophelia Langdon!"

The demonic girl cracked a sinister grin. "About time…" she murmured as she rose and tromped toward the field, her black ponytail swishing as she went.

Jane immediately eyed Victor whose dark eyes glared right back. So her opponent was going to be the guy who pissed her off from the very beginning. Of course. Jane felt glad that a few of the victors had decided to come back and watch. She felt uncomfortable sitting with her eyes off her soon-to-be enemy.

After this fight ends, hers would start. Her life would be on the line. She'd either make it out (unscathed or not) or it would be the last thing she remembered before waking up in the hospital after getting knocked out. If she wasn't killed. Victor's power was lava, after all.

The grey-tinged girl exposed her teeth in a bestial grin. The purple-haired boy looked very nervous.

"Don't forget to give it your best!" Blake encouraged them merrily.

"And don't lose Ophelia," Chris muttered. "I couldn't stand to see another Godrid get eliminated by the hands of a Zorgon…"

"Don't worry, I'm going to maul this freak!" She snarled.

"That's the spirit." Chris raised his arm in preparation. Lorac gulped but managed to keep still. The siren buzzed and Jane did a double-take when she noticed Ophelia's eyes.

The pupils had expanded so they were entirely black, she could tell even from their distance. Black veins riddled her body. Her pallid skin became even more alien, biting snarls ripping from her chest. Yep, she was another monster. Her fingers grew long, the nails lengthening. The bones of her limbs appeared to be stretching as she ducked into a crouch. Teeth stretching into narrow fangs, meant to tear muscle from bone. Lorac stood stock-still, wide eyes on her frightening change.

"You might as well fill me in on what her deal is…" Blake spoke conversationally from the sidelines. "Ophi-whatever."

"Ophelia is a sub-race of creature I created called Shedim. They're hybrids, part-human and part-demon. Remember those fiendish gargoyles that infested the old cemetery in Zorgon Main city? She's implanted with their DNA. Shedim have to take injections once a day to hold off the bloodthirst, but if they do they can change back-and-forth between their monster form at will. Of course, they have little sentience and control over themselves after changing." Chris informed.

A pair of devil bat-wings tore out the back of Ophelia's shirt, hooked and curling. The same alabaster-colour of her skin, they swatted the air. Ophelia lurched forward with a squeal, those wings propelling her toward Lorac who still hadn't moved. She went to tear through him with her speed, and that's when he vanished in a cloud of smoke.

Lorac didn't quite vanish because he didn't reappear anywhere else. And the purple cloud didn't fade away either. Ophelia whipped straight through it, turning and skidding while wisps trailed off her body and vanished. The purple cloud swirled before condensing, a figure began to appear in its centre.

With a roar Ophelia launched herself, ripping through that cloud again. Her claws met nothing and she skidded out the side of it once more. The cloud drifted away like mist, swirling and shrinking before Lorac was visible. He was still wearing his clothes, they'd been carried by the strange gas that seemed to be a part of him.

"Of course…" Chris murmured while Zac was awestruck from beside him. "Lorac… Lora… why didn't I see it before."

"Lora?" Zac turned to look at the two older elementals.

"You probably wouldn't remember Zac." Chris began. "The Finn, Sprout and Flame clans started out as three individual crushers. But there were actually four. Tommy, Vine, Jason and Lora. Not every power is a winner though. Like the Finn and Sprout clan, Lora could turn her entire body into her power. A pinkish smoke. But compared to the others it's a failed power. It provides an excellent defence, making oneself immune to physical attack, but it's a barely offensive power. There's also no effects to the gas, it can't poison or make you fall asleep. Nothing like that."

"If the power was a failure, why'd you recreate it?" Zac looked past his mentor to ask Blake.

"Every crusher is different, even if they have the same power. There's always anomalies. So I took the chance. We don't know for sure that Lorac won't be able to do more with his power than Lora or Lorer ever managed before…" he stroked his beard, eyes on the fight.

"The only thing I could think of…" Chris narrowed his eyes in thought.

"What is it?" Zac prompted.

"The gas could push and shove, but that wouldn't hurt Ophelia the way she is now. Unless he could use his own body as some form of asphyxiant… he might have a chance."

The demon girl gave a furious roar after a moment of silent staring. She had speed, strength, enhanced senses and claws. She was a killing machine… up against an opponent who couldn't be touched. She stalked around on long legs, Lorac was almost completely visible again, a light haze of purple around him.

Running on all fours Ophelia sprinted toward him. Lorac ducked and dived, shooting away as a column of smoke. Ophelia landed where he'd stood, wisps slipping through her fingers as they clawed the ground. Lorac gathered himself (literally) before shooting back. A rush of purple gas spearing toward Ophelia's head.

The demon spread her wings, they stretched like huge nets. They beat fiercely at the air and Jane was astounded to see the gas disperse, collecting itself again and reforming a few metres away.

So Lorac couldn't move freely in that gas state. Not against wind. That was a flaw, never being able to use your power on a windy day. At least until you'd mastered that control. For a moment there Jane thought Lorac might've stood a chance at suffocating Ophelia somehow… but it looked like even though Ophelia couldn't touch him, she could move him by beating her wings in a certain direction.

Lorac could move pretty fast in smoke-state, but certainly not as fast as Ophelia. She'd likely escape him, seeing as there was no way for him to latch on. It wasn't likely he would be able to pull out a win.

Ophelia sprang. Lorac held his ground, expanding suddenly into a swirling storm of purple. Ophelia landed in the middle, for a second it looked like she was trapped. Then she leapt upwards, a skinny tail now trailing behind. Tendrils of mist climbed after her. She beat her wings at the ground and Lorac scattered.

It took the better half of a minute for the thin wisps to gather back together, he'd been so properly dispersed, when they did Lorac reappeared looking tired and sick.

"Whatever she tried it sure worked…" Dan observed. Evan was licking his thumb, trying to wipe the blood smears off his knuckles. There were big bruises on his face from the last fight.

Ophelia sprang, turning and whipping Lorac with her tail. He stumbled back and his arm detached from the swipe. Lorac straightened and the wisps reconnected. Each transformation seemed to drain the tiredly panicked boy further. All it took was a few more swipes, Lorac failing to dodge, barely managing to gas-ify. She turned and her tail whipped, connecting this time. The purple-haired boy fell back in a sprawl. Exhausted, unconscious.

It wasn't enough for the rabid creature he was fighting. Ophelia lunged with claws extended to take his life, only to be blasted back with a bang, trapped in a net fired by one of the elementals. On the sidelines Blake could be seen with a smoking cannon he seemed to have materialised from thin-air. He lowered the gun with a satisfied sigh.

"It'd be a shame if a crusher died in one of these nothing rounds. Anyhoo, Ophelia is the winner."

Copyright © 2020 Invnarcel; All Rights Reserved.

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