Kari’s rage had subsided. She numbly watching the center screen; they hadn’t even had the decency to clean up Jenny’s body. The alarm had ended, signifying the end to Eric’s makeshift pack, and all the girls she’d tried to protect from him. She didn’t know what to live for, what to do. Killing Eric was the only thing she has left, which meant Aiden had to die, though she didn’t want that, he was just a puppet. She felt pinned; at the back of her mind, she knew that should make her angry, but all she felt was hollow.
Looking down at the floor, she let her head roll to the side, a few more tears sliding down her cheeks. She’d been silently crying off and on as her body gradually produced more. If I kill Aiden would any of this have happened? Eric couldn’t have gotten this far without him … was I too weak? After killing Eric … what do I have left? I’ll have … nothing; I don’t have anything. Mom’s gone, and everything I thought I built was a lie. What was there even to begin with? Eric won…
Her eyes didn’t lift as she senselessly listened to people walk into the room; they started unbinding the straps from the pillars. It took them several minutes, but they got her on a moveable table, strapping the chair down and making sure the thread was still securely tied around her. After triple checking her bonds, they wheeled her to the elevator.
She didn’t struggle. Is this it? Is it my turn? Maybe it’s for the best. I had nothing, but delusions. Illusions of freedom that could never truly be seen … my life was a joke, a cruel twist by fate. All those motivation talks were lies. No matter how hard I struggled, nothing came from it; nothing, but pain…
Void expand as she trembled; she could only see a blurred haze. She barely noticed the elevator doors shut as they descend even deeper into the base. Stopping, they pushed her cart onward as the doors opened. She didn’t have the will to ask where they were taking her.
Her escort turned into a vast hallway, larger than any she’d seen before. Support pillars were well spaced apart but linked together to provide a wide pathway. They passed many checkpoints that had their doors completely open. Continuing down the curved path, they stopped in front of an immense, dense metal door. There was a guard box sectioned at its side, halfway up the wall behind thick ballistics glass.
Upon seeing them, the man began working at a computer. A few seconds later pressurized air hissed, and she heard the sound of alternating gears as the four-meter thick door peeled back to reveal an enormous area.
Domed, it was near thirty meters high and at least triple that in width and length. Six large pillars were erect, evenly placed to provide support, each one had scratches and small cracks spaced around it. The floor seemed totally solid and held the marks of many vicious battles. Kari could smell hundreds of different creature and human blood that perforated the air. Haloed around the upper domed section was dark tinted glass that she presumed was meant for personal spectating, while expensive looking cameras littered the walls and pillars.
Kari examined it all dully. Is this where I will die? Will my suffering end here? No more lies, no more pain, bliss, nothingness? If there is anything afterward then will it be better than this?
Her head tilted slightly to see a troll walk through the open gate she’d entered through. He was escorted by several men that kept distance to react if needed. They expect a troll to kill me? I guess if I’m not going to fight back, anything could really do the job if I’m in this thread, but that’s a little insulting. She let her emotions go and looked back down at the floor.
The troll huffed gutturally, and his harsh laugh echoed around the area. “Expect me fight small girl? She have no fight!”
Diane spoke from hidden speakers. “Whether you kill her or not is none of my concern. Do whatever you see fit, but she is not the only competitor.”
Kari’s vision narrowed. So I’m to be ripped apart by multiple beasts as they tear each other to pieces, some entertainment for these disgusting humans?
The troll swayed over to her as the guards retreated through the gate. He was muscular and tall, twice her own height. He bent down to examine her, his rancid breath coating her nostrils. “You not fear, girl?” He chuckled.
Her emptiness began to fade in front of the filthy creature, filled by revulsion. Kari growled with disgust, “Get out of my face.”
The troll bellowed with laughter, which sent vile drool spraying all over her front. He inhaled, puffing out his chest threateningly. “You not scared? You stupid!” Her eyes followed the back of the trolls left hand as it shot out and struck her body.
The wooden chair splintered, sending her flying to the left with the cart she was tethered to. Tumbling a few times with the cart smashing against her body, she finally stopped. She could feel scraps and cuts that marred her skin, but it wasn’t bad and quickly healed. Since she had stopped struggling, her physical and internal strength had begun renewing itself, given her body resilience. Finding the cords suddenly loosen and snake up into the air, it shot toward the glass and flew into a small retractable box that retracted into the concrete.
“There,” Diane’s voice boomed around the area. “Come, Fenris Wolf. Give us a show!” Shoving the cart and broken timber off, Kari sniffed indignantly. “Finally free, and you want me to fight a troll?”
The troll looked stupefied as he watched her stand and brush herself off. “What you?”
Adjusting her clothing for better comfort, she glared at the troll. “No, I will not be disposed of by such a stupid creature. I at least refuse that.” Walking to one of the pillars, she pressed her back against it and slid down to the ground, relaxing. “You’ll have to bring something a lot more capable than this vermin.” Kari huffed.
The troll looked confused but didn’t give chase after seeing her shrug off his attack. It stood still, eyeing her suspiciously. Both Kari and the troll’s attentions were diverted as a third monster entered the area, a tall black haired man. Kari’s stomach churned at his appearance as a wave of energy seemed to emit from his body. He’s even taller than Eric, and this presence he has … there’s no doubting his strength. This is the kind of beast that has enough power to give me a fight.
His eyes were stony, and he glared up at the glass with waves of malice expelling from his body. His voice sounded with command as he spoke, “Your word that she will not be harmed and that we may go free. Otherwise, I will kill every last human in this base and anyone that associates with you.” The Troll backed towards a pillar as the vicious energy leaked from the man.
“Of course,” Diane said. “We have problems that must be solved, and while we could correct these issues quietly. I’m sure you understand human nature. Curiosity can be such a strong motivator.” A man’s grunt sounded shortly after with agreement.
Kari’s vision shifted over to the four-meter metal door as it quickly closed. She grimaced. Something isn’t right. She remembered her brother’s statement. A dragon attacked him. Is that the problem they are having?
The door sealed shut and then at the opposite side of the hall a section of the wall started pushing outward to reveal a hidden exit. Two large remote controlled containers entered through it, and the doors began to shut as they cleared its zone.
Kari’s breath caught. Inside the containers were both the girls she had seen with Sora. They both wore white elastic strips that covered their chests and some kind of spandex white shorts. Lining their bodies were dozens of papers with strange symbols on them.
She caught the scent of unease, and her attention shifted back to the tall man. He’s weary. Turning back to the tanks as they split off, Kari swallowed. That atmosphere I remember at the parking lot, and the way that girl acted … they’re strong, very strong.
The tank moving the blonde haired girl rolled to the wall, while the container carrying the short black-haired girl stopped a few yards away from the Troll. Diane’s spoke over the speakers, “Jian, Kari, and—Troll, I would like to introduce Jin. She is perfectly contained and an excellent punching bag to relieve your frustrations.”
Kari and the tall man didn’t move as they glared at the container. Kari couldn’t sense anything from the small girl; she didn’t even look conscious. Every eye locked on the troll as he laughed his unease away. “Punching bag? Me like!”
Kari tensed, and Jian leaped back several paces as the Troll sallied up to the tank and threw his arm through the glass, striking Jin’s shoulder. She was sent tumbling across the ground, flipping around like a rag doll, glass, and water spraying across the floor. Coming to a stop, Kari bit her lower lip nervously as a soft, drawn-out breath left Jin’s mouth and she began to stir. She lifted to her side, clouded yellow eyes sweeping the scene with a cold edge.
She didn’t have a scratch on her from the Troll’s attack, but she seemed to have trouble moving. Getting into a sitting position, she examined herself, running a finger down the runic papers on her arm. Jin’s face showed contempt as she muttered, “Runic wards latched to my soul?”
Kari couldn’t help but swallow nervously as the Troll laughed mirthfully, its low intelligence unable to feel the sharp wave of danger that expelled around Jin. “Yes, good punching bag!”
Jin’s ominous yellow eyes smoothly shifted to the Troll. “Punching bag,” she growled. Face showing no humor; she unsteadily got to her feet. “You think wards can restrict a dragon?” Breathing a slow breath, Jin closed her eyes and all of the wards on her body started to shine with a brilliant white light. The papers on her arms began to disintegrate.
Kari barely saw Jian move as he appeared in front of Jin and threw a fist at her head. The strike landed, sending her flying back to strike the wall with the hidden exit. The concrete fractured as she hit and Jin gasped, before falling back to the ground. Even more shocked, Kari watched Jin slowly rise to her feet again. The only damage done was a small cut in her lip, which she licked away. Her eyes could pierce steel as she glared at Jian, who was straightening.
Jin closed her eyes and breathed a slow, even breathe. She opened them, tone laced with virulence, “Try that again, Bai-Hu, and I’ll rip your arm from its socket.”
Diane spoke over the speakers, her voice thrilled. “If you let her destroy the wards, you will be hard pressed to win, Jian. If I were you, I would not let her focus.”
Jin closed her eyes again, and the wards began to glow, their radiance becoming ever brighter. The Troll ran at Jin with a boisterous laugh that hurt Kari’s ears. “Me Clan make me Great Chief! Hugu, Dragon Beater!” His fist struck Jin, sending her skidding across the ground, and breaking her concentration.
Following after her, he kicked her side, throwing her into the nearby wall. The force wasn’t nearly as strong as Jian’s, but it still broke off a small segment of concrete. Hitting the ground with a deep growl, she lifted to all fours and coughed. Gurgling his enjoyment, Hugu raised his foot to stomp on Jin’s back. However, as he lifted his foot a sharp gust of wind exploded from around Jin, and a deep, fierce, and deafening voice echoed around the area, “Enough!”
Hugu seemed to be paralyzed as the terrifying force washed over him. The burst made Kari’s lungs freeze, and she noticed the tips of Jin’s hair begin to shift from raven black to luminescent crimson red. Jian was still in his original position, still staring at the spot Jin had been, he barely seemed to be breathing. Kari’s ears picked up the sound of shifting gears and depressurizing air.
Diane’s chilling words broke the ensuing silence. “Remember whom you fight for, Jian.” A pained whimper made Jian’s entire body quake, and his hesitation vanish.
Disappearing completely from Kari’s vision, he appeared behind Jin, his foot smashing into her side. She could hear Jin’s gasp as all the air was forced from her lungs and she was thrown into Hugu’s body, sending them both flying into the air. They struck the domed ceiling and began to fall with sections of the broken roof.
Out of the corner of her eyes, Kari saw the large steel door opening and sirens beginning to screech in the distance. However, her attention was brought back to the fight as Hugu struck the ground heavily. Before Jin was able to touch ground, Jian grabbed her hair and whipped her around to slam face first into the floor. Concrete shattered on impact, sending fragments spraying in all directions. Kari noticed that half of Jin’s hair had turned radiant crimson and even as she watched it was flowing closer to her scalp.
Still grasping her hair and without pause, Jian flung her around at a sharp speed and let go. She didn’t touch concrete once as she smashed into one of the support pillars, bouncing off to strike the wall. A fourth of the column broke away and began to crumble as it fell, while a large portion of the wall Jin hit separated and fell with her to the floor.
Kari’s attention was diverted as Sora’s voice yelled for Jin and she noticed Aiden and Eric running into the room beside her. Her emotions flared with her brother in front of her.