Kyle had no trouble finding the arena after the elevator’s doors opened and he was exposed to a large circular area with a huge field in the middle of many smaller cubicles. The small training rooms had mats in the middle and walls covered with hand combat weapons of all sorts. In the center of it all was far larger stage with weapons stacked up on chain shelves hanging from the ceiling.
Tyton had called him to combat on his territory, he thought grimly, not seeing even one human face. With his weapons, on his rules. So, what were his rules? He could only think of one, if to go by the general honor codes he’d come across so far – no stabbing in the back. The way the alien always faced him when he tossed the accusations on him, or when he talked to him about things that mattered, he gathered that was one rule he would have to abide. He wasn’t against it at all. Put him at ease even.
He expected him to set him on a stage, where every alien that mattered could see him being put down, but instead he saw a small group standing around the window and open door of a small cubicle in the middle, farthest from the door.
He’d gone and changed. After Swick told him to beat it, he’d gone and put on his training outfit, decided against the jerseys and changed into jeans, decided against that one as well and ended up settling with dark cargo pants with close fitting shirt that carried two dark green stripes on the shoulders, running all the way down his long sleeves.
He had no problem getting through the mass of muscles surrounding the door. Hearing him closing in, they all took a step back and stared him with looks that ran between curiosity and surprise. He guessed he’d be laughing too if he heard a human was going against an alien. Not against the smallest one either, but he couldn’t back out now. Nor did he want to.
Tyton was standing in the back of the room, talking to an alien that looked similar to him, but had light red lines running from his throat behind the earlobes. They looked like painted on while Tyton’s were more faded. He guessed it was because Tige was younger. More eager to show his dislike towards him, too. So much even, he considered reminding the young alien that he was here only to fight with Tyton and was not picking up any left over enemies. One-on-one was the deal.
Tyton had changed, too. Instead of his usual, he was now sporting nothing more than his security outfit’s loose pants with wrapped yellow belt. He was in the middle of stretching his muscles. He continued the routine after acknowledging he was standing on the doorway.
Tyton was barefoot. He glanced around, so was Tige and others. He rose to his toes and removed his shoes, pushing them next to large set of boots. Next to them was a small bench where he saw the rest of his outfit, the jacket, the thin shirt, the buckled belt and his electronics.
He hadn’t bothered bringing any of his. He either ended up being beaten to death, which he hoped to avoid, or walked out without beating him to death, which he also hoped to avoid. He might have not looked the part, but he had done his share of fighting and knew few tricks from here and there.
He lost the jacket and was now standing only with his shirt in a chilling atmosphere. It was colder here, closer to the outer shell and he shivered a little. Couldn’t be helped.
“Rules?” he asked, better to know them up front than argue over lost battle that you didn’t know you lost.
“First one to put his back down loses.”
He nodded. Fair. “All weapons allowed?”
Tyton let knowing glance go over the walls, taking inventory of the stuff they had on the walls. “Anything you don’t know?”
He let his eyes follow his and counted the types of the weapons. There was no way he could name each and one of them, but he could recognize ways he could use them. Most of the weapons were simple kind, but, to his secret horror, he did see that they were all real. Not one of them had any padding or protection – each was created with pain in mind. Hitting, cutting, hooking about, parrying, tossing, squashing.
One caught his eye. It had bulging curve at the base of the blade and it worked its way to an inward curve at the belly of the blade. It looked like a huge upside down question mark with laced edge of tiny holes.
“Upper row, far left – looks like comma and has laced edge.”
He glanced at his friends standing behind him and he heard laughter rumble through the rows of warriors.
“Kujang? Shouldn’t you know it? It comes from your world.”
He shrugged. “You’re in my world right now and I still don’t know you. ”
“No matter, shall we start?”
He bowed lightly, opening his arms and demonstrating himself like he’d seen one of them do before the fight got up.
Tige moved around the edge of the mats on the floor and out of the door, taking his pair of boots with him. They started circling the edge of the mat, eyes on each other and the others quietly backed away, out of the door and out of their way.
He wasn’t here to dance, he thought, when they’d done about four rounds with his eyes started to move away from him, his target and on choosing weapons. Soon his eyes stopped on a long thin sword he couldn’t recognize.
He had already chosen out his, but at this point, he had to get to it first. It was pair of stabbing daggers attached to a small shield in the middle. It was hardly enough to attack the man or kill him, which, in his heart he knew he was not planning to do, but they would keep him alive until the alien would choose something else. For he wasn’t sure the alien had the same noble idea to keep him alive, too.
Tyton reached for the sword, but then his hand passed it and he took hold on pair of staffs. He eyed them both for a second and then tossed one over. Kyle frowned, surprised. Wasn’t he supposed to get the upper edge on the fight? What’s with the show?
Still, he didn’t let himself daze off into the question. While he was weighing the stick in his hand, he saw Tyton take a quick step back and launch right at him with a mass of a speeding train. Felt like it, when he managed to get the staff up just in time to block his attack and hit him back, hard. The alien twirled around and hit him hard at his shoulder.
“Your friend said you’ve fought before – doesn’t look like it!” he growled, stepping back.
“Which friend?” He doubted it was Swick.
“Prefer fistfight?” He asked instead of answering, tossed the staff aside and then the fight began in earnest.
Kyle tossed the staff away as well and succumbed into what he knew. That didn’t mean it was easy to even make him sway. He was an example of the purest form of a battle ax in form of muscles. Despite the mass he was fast and got several hits in before he could finally hit him straight into his chest and make him pull away. Even if for a moment.
They’d gone on like this for about fifteen minutes, when Tyton had gotten to the door and grabbed two bottles with water next to the bench. Tossing him one, he gulped down the other one. He was impressed and succumbed into the moment of peace and drank hungrily. Tyton was laughing on his own, shaking his head. Must be funny indeed – he hadn’t even break into sweat yet.
He waited. Tyton was standing with his back towards him. In jail he would have already attacked, perhaps grabbed a dagger from the wall and cut into his profile while he was enjoying his moment. Such moments were for weak fighters, weren’t they?
Tyton turned and eyed him curiously. Was he expecting him to attack him while he was turned around? He tossed the bottle back and they both took positions up from which to attack their opponent better.
Suddenly his eyes changed. As if a thought had passed the windows and pulled down the curtains.
Half an hour later they were finally sweating and he took off his shirt. This was gonna hurt tomorrow, he thought, but heck, he hadn’t enjoyed fighting for a long time since he’d done time. He never doubted Tyton for a weakling, but in a way, he felt proud that he had the stamina to keep up with his tempo.
“Very good, but not quick enough yet.”
“There was no way I’m putting my back down!”
“Oh yes, for Swick and Joselyn and Dakota – how noble of you.”
He frowned, harder this time and pulled straight, reaching out to whatever ax he had near his hand. “Sacrificing yourself for others isn’t a virtue, Kyle.”
“Declaring mortal combat over a bar either.”
“I would have let you keep the bar if you weren’t interfering me so much.”
“Interesting way you run your business here,” he murmured, weighting the ax in his hand for better grip, “in our world, we call it offering roof to misfortunate idiots.”
“We’re not in your world anymore, human!” he warned, stepping back and heading straight at him.
“Really? I hadn’t noticed!” He blocked the hit and swung the ax, which he bounced away from. “But you seem to like us so much! Oh, and the carpet in your office – nice touch!”
Something silvery swung past him and the sound made his ears ring.
“I’m not into humans!”
“Couldn’t guess, the way you keep staring at her!” That must have been a spear, he guessed, when he felt small cut begin bleeding on the side of his leg, where something sharp landed just enough on the side to miss his foot. He flinched, ignoring it. “You need to work on your aim.” He teased automatically, losing the ax and deciding for something sharper. “You look at us always with cockiness equal to peacocks. What’s so great about you?” He weighted another blunt large thing in his hand.
“We don’t cheat our own kind!” he spit with such distaste it turned his stomach.
He attacked. Nearly lost his bearing, when he suddenly turned, swung out of his way and had him run into a wall behind him. He plunged away from the hit on his left side and had him pinned against the wall by his neck and pressed at it, running his fingernails into his flesh. It was met with soft flesh instead of rough bark like exterior he expected.
“I do not cheat!”
“When it’s convenient to you! You smell like her!” he hissed back and he pressed onwards, furious, closing his neck underneath his Adam’s apple.
He wasn’t interested in her! There was no way he wanted her! Nothing between them! God, how he wished to tell him to back off and never bring it up again! But he couldn’t. Tyton’s blind jealousy was the only thing that kept him from walking straight at her and finding out the truth and he couldn’t have it. Until she was stuck with them, he couldn’t let him close and ruin it all by sending Dakota back to where she was certainly facing death on the street.
Tyton’s breathing changed, but despite locking his hands around his wrist, the alien couldn’t get his hand off. His breathing changed and he could feel against his elbow how it got more rapid. He was heating up and he could feel his breathing go shallow before he gulped. Was he getting hard?
“You like my fingers?” he teased, low, not higher than a whisper so his men wouldn’t hear. He glared back. He slipped his small finger lower, teasing his skin. He wanted him to ask to be let go.
He was about to let him go, when a Tige came in, apologizing quickly in their language and came straight towards them. He let him down on his feet and took a step back, watching how he was forgotten in less than a second and Tige whispered the problem in Tyton’s ear.
He tried to calm down by taking deep breath. Tige looked worried and no matter how angry he was right now, killing Tyton wouldn’t help any of them.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost…” he whispered, eying the aliens before him. “What happened?” the chief ran to the bench and dressing fast.
“Did you try contacting the center?”
“They’re cut off. Computer locked us off from the main part of the station, the new arrivals had techno wiz with them.”
“How many?” he asked.
“Twenty men, trying to take over the station’s main control, if to believe where the wiz tried to get access to.” He checked the notepad.
“Not really a wiz – idiots locked themselves at the complex linking the back gate to the main.”
Kyle glanced around and counted four men besides the chief and him. “Need to even the odds?” he asked, testing the sword like thing in his hand.
He stopped the dressing for a moment and looked him straight in the eyes. “No.”
The refusal wasn’t unexpected, but he wasn’t going with it right now. “I can’t get out of here on my own if they locked us here – I can do it on my own or under your command. Which one is it?”
Others waited. Tyton wasn’t giving his answer right away, but they didn’t have a choice here. “Under my rules.” He sighed finally and got up, tossing him his shirt before adding pair of knives and a gun to it. “You should watch your left,” he scolded, “can’t believe you are still not protecting it. One hit more and that ribcage of yours is permanently broken.”
Felt like it, too.
“Let’s go, human!” Tige called out. “Put your shirt on already!”
“Don’t call me that! My name is Kyle, fucking Kyle! You wouldn’t want me calling you alien, now would you?”
The young officer took a quick step, but he wasn’t backing out.
“Tige!” Tyton cut the youth’s path, reminding him that this was no the time to start fighting among themselves.
Their eyes met. Weird, he thought, they both seemed to agree that their fight was exclusive to anybody else around. It made his heart beat although they had already got the time to cool down.
Tyton tossed him the bottle he had drank from. While he drank, he watches Tyton finish his.