Chapter 9:

A Forewarning Come True

The Artificial Lights of R'veno

“And for our final newcomer of the night, coming in from the left at 167 centimeters and 56 kilograms…Rei!”

Rei scowled at having her height and weight being announced publicly to the roaring crowd. The only weapons she had right now were her bare fists—well, her metal one, too. Who would they put her up against…?

“And from the right, someone you have been waiting very patiently for, at 166 centimeters and 54 kilos…the WI74 android, Aretha!”

Oh, gosh…an android? Rei looked up to see a what appeared to be a girl, with brown hair done up, wearing a sleek silver suit. Her eyes glowed a dim lavender. Androids were not uncommon in R’veno, though they usually served other tasks. This one must have escaped and was brought to the fight club specifically for fighting. Rei glanced at her arms, wondering if she had anything, quite literally, hidden up her sleeve.

“Greetings,” Aretha said, a buzz tinging her voice. “Your first time in the ring?”

“And hopefully the last,” Rei replied, stretching out her arms.

“Then I can make it your last. Announcer?”

Both of them looked up at the tiny box where the announcer stood. The announcer grinned down at them, teeth sharp. Vice was sitting next to him, looking bored, but her pink gaze still trailed over Rei.

“Place your bets in, machines and gentlefolk! For I have a feeling that we are about to witness something very special here!”

Rei cracked the last of her jointed and brushed off her jacket. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“Good.” Aretha raised an eyebrow. “Then I shall not hold back.”

The bell sounded, and the crowd was thrown into a frenzy. Rei winced at the loud noise, but refused to let that distract her. Aretha raised her arms and fired several blasts of energy at Rei, but Rei quickly darted from side to side in the ring, rolling up the sleeve of her metal arm. Surely this wasn’t allowed? Oh, whatever, this was all illegal anyways, anything goes.

She arrived in front of Aretha and sliced her arm across the android’s throat, the blade in the side emerging, but Aretha jumped back, and blinded Rei with a flash of light. Rei ducked and rolled, trying to recover her sight, and grabbed Aretha’s ankle, causing her to stumble. Aretha switched from energy blasts to blades, slashing at Rei, and Rei quickly let go and rolled away, springing to her feet. The android probably wouldn’t pull out anymore energy blasts in order to save power…hopefully…

Aretha turned on the offense, swiping her blades continuously at Rei. Rei jumped back, blocking most of her blows with her own arm, but Aretha leapt into the air and brought both of her blades down on her, and Rei fell onto the sandy ground, trying her best to keep Aretha off. The android was putting all her weight into her arms, and Rei felt her shoulders shaking beneath her, unable to hold her off for much longer. She kicked her legs up, shaking Aretha to the side, and grabbed her by the upper arms and attempted to push her towards the glass wall. As long as her arms remained immobile…

Aretha dove down in an attempt to plunge her blades into Rei’s stomach, but Rei fell backwards again, trying to throw Aretha over her and in the other direction. She flipped to her feet but felt Aretha jump on her back, blades at her throat. Rei winced and tried to saw at her arms with her own metal arm, but to no avail, only tearing through the material of her suit.

“Give up now?” Aretha whispered. “I heard humans need oxygen.”

“Urgh!” Rei tried to slash at Aretha’s eyes, but the crowd roared in protest.

“Not the face! Not the face!”

Aretha let her go and Rei tumbled to the ground, coughing. Aretha stood over her, watching, sheathing and unsheathing her blades again. Finally Rei climbed to her feet again, and decided to rush at Aretha head on, trying to push her back again off her feet.

Aretha did stumble, but her blades caught on Rei’s shoulder, and she could feel the fabric of her jacket and her skin tear, drops of blood flying. As they landed she grabbed Aretha’s head and attempted to snap it, or at least twist it off. Aretha’s blades were flat between their legs but Rei could still feel them digging into her thighs. Dangit…if she could just…

The lights went out, all at once. Only Aretha’s glowing lavender eyes remained before her.

The crowd dissipated into chaos. Screaming, shouting, muffled banging, glass shattering… Rei jumped to her feet, hoping that Aretha wouldn’t try to take her in the dark. Calix, where was Calix…?

“What does this mean?” Aretha’s voice sounded by her ear.

“Means the power’s gone,” Rei replied, trying to find the entrance to the ring.

“Power? Does that mean I will not be able to charge anymore?”

“You’re an android, aren’t you? Figure that out yourself!”

“Here, the exit is this way.” Aretha shone a light onto the ground, and Rei followed her. The door was knocked down in the commotion, and they both stepped out.

“Rei! There you are!” Calix was waiting for her, Aries standing somewhat disgruntledly beside him.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Rei turned to thank Aretha but she had slipped away. Calix grabbed her metal wrist and they began pushing through the crowd.

“There’s an exit up here,” Aries said, hopping up onto several crates and opening up a vent. “Come on, it’ll be easier than to fight against this.”

“Unless you want to shoot them all?” Rei reluctantly accepted his hand, and crawled into the small space after him.

“They took our weapons, what are we going to shoot them with?” Aries’s voice echoed throughout the chamber as they crawled through, the mass of people apparent underneath them.

Rei swore. “Our weapons…”

“No time,” Calix said. “We can find some more later. Besides, they’d be impossible to see in this lighting.”

Rei scowled, but no one could see her, so they continued on.

Steward McOy