Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chapter 23 No Competition

“Let’s go.”

Brandon smiles at Alex in a way I’ve never seen him smile before. There’s a little threat mixed in with his normal friendliness. Is this the other side of him? The one he hadn’t wanted me to see at first and now he’s practically encouraging me to look.

Alex and Brandon step out as the rest of us all move closer to the old building to give them space. The black haired woman Brandon introduced as Kyrene stands at the end of the line of us watching the two of them with a smile on her face. Next to her stands Angel who quietly talks to her.

Mitchell, who stands between Angel and Maria, acknowledges me with a slight nod and a small little smile before turning all his attention to Alex and Brandon.

Maria is next to me. She whispers, “Oh this’ll be interesting. They’ve never sparred together.”

“They haven’t?” It almost doesn’t look fair. Alex stands taller than Brandon, his body longer and more lithe with its smooth and supple movements. Of the two of them, he appears to be the more dangerous one.

“Nope. That’s Alex’s disadvantage.”

I glance at her just to see her serious look again. She has the same tight and slightly dangerous smile that Brandon had. One that can see bad things happening just from experience.

Brandon is very still. His body is thicker and blockier than Alex’s making it look like movement for him would be so much more difficult than it would be for Alex. Alex makes his move, it’s so quick that I almost jump when he lunges at Brandon who blocks him with hardly any movement at all before reaching out and tapping the left side of Alex’s chest.

I notice it’s oddly quiet. Next to me Maria is beaming. She looks like someone watching a normal sporting event back home which I guess is exactly what this is. Still, there is something about this that I can’t help feeling weird about.

They go at it again, but this time Alex seems more focused as if he’s learned something from watching Brandon. He uses all of the space around them tightly dodging before quickly working his way around to tap Brandon in the lower back.

Brandon looks a little surprised. “That doesn’t count,” he says even as he looks over at Kyrene.

She nods. “I've seen it done. It would work.”

Alex grins at Brandon as he concedes defeat, but his grin changes ever so slightly when Brandon calls on Kyrene to go next. As she steps forward, there’s a gleam to Alex's eye. Brandon takes the place she had been standing in next to Angel.

Kyrene’s moves match Alex’s, but that she’s a bit flashier. She taunts him with every move, daring him to touch her before twirling out of the way of his attacks. Each of her moves uses the force of his own attacks to move past him, keeping him ever so slightly off balance.

Maria sucks in a breath next to me. “They’ve slept together.” This quiet observation seems to surprise her and she looks at me and Mitchell almost half guiltily.

Mitchell leans in a little to ask quietly, “How can you tell that?”

She looks from Mitchell to me, and for half a moment I almost think I see a bit of pity, but it could just be me projecting my own thoughts.

“She’s playing with him.” Maria’s eyes trail back to the two of them still fighting in front of us. “She keeps touching him, distracting him by reminding him about it.”

I turn back to watch for myself, and then I can see it too. She brushes against him as she dodges and even gets close enough to run her hand through his hair once. He shakes it off, but it is clear that she’s got him off balance.

She’s gorgeous. There is a confidence to her that shines brightly, a knowing of her ability in fighting and her effect on people.

Kyrene moves quickly, sliding behind Alex and then running her finger along his throat in one swift move.

That creeps me out and I look at Maria with my eyes probably huge. “Uhm, what was that?”

She almost looks sheepish, but her explanation comes with no hesitation. “Kill tap. The spot that would disable your opponent if they were armed.”

Another time my mind goes thankfully blank.

Alex gives in, his eyes falling on Angel.

Angel sighs, but he steps forward. “Why is it always me who has to fight her after everyone else gets their ass kicked?”

Brandon laughs. “You’re really her only competition.”

Next Chapter -->


  1. I just had to go and check Maria's profile to see what her power was. I was thinking she could catch thoughts like Brandon can but she appears to just be naturally perceptive, like picking up on Kyrene and Alex's past dalliances, just from their body language with each other. Or maybe the clairvoyance, even though it's limited, has enhanced her perception in other ways.

    I also found it interesting when Maria said "“That’s Alex’s disadvantage.” Alex won anyway, so that got me curious. I wonder why that would be a disadvantage. Does it make him reckless? Or too cocky?

  2. Hmmm....maybe Brandon does have a protective streak when it comes to Paula (aside from the whole wanting to keep her alive). The fact that they'd never sparred before seems to provide some evidence that he wanted Alex to be reminded of how dangerous he is...even though Alex won.

    Kyrene--what a dirty fighter! I'm thinking that her approach would even work on people she hasn't slept with, given her beauty and attitude (though it is likely to be especially distracting for those who have experienced her er...charms). But I wonder if the reason why Angel is the only competition is because he prefers men, so her coy little tricks don't distract him?

    I wonder why Maria blurted that information out? Is she trying to warn Paula about Alex? Or about Kyrene? I wonder if Kyrene would be interested in Paula...she'd probably find her very different from her previous conquests.

  3. Naturally perceptive is a good word for it. I consider it clairvoyance, but it would make sense if it came from somewhere.

    Oh good question. I think she just meant that not many see Brandon fight, so it's a disadvantage not knowing how he moves. Alex did get tapped once very quickly, and then when he returned the tap on the next round, Brandon conceded and let Kyrene fight. So really, the two are even.

    Rachel, yes, Brandon does have a protective streak. I think it's just something that's woven into his character. Remember way back when he saved that stray. But he's learned some lessons in his life that probably are conflicting (like protect those you love closely from Mary, and at the same time he's learned the opposite lesson from someone else).

    Kyrene did fight dirty here, and I think that sort of answers the questions from last week about her reaction. Normally, I see her keeping sex and fighting separate. She could charm people as she fights, but doesn't usually. I also think that the only reason she could play around like this is strictly because it is play for her.

    As for Angel being her competition, originally I'd thought that and intended that, but then seeing them fight in my head made it a little more clear, lol.

    As for Maria, I can honestly say that there was probably little thought to her blurted info there. I think she's rather impulsive sometimes (another remember the time at the edge of the world where she volunteered for guard duty), and that as soon as she said it she regretted it.

  4. The title of the chapter, and the final screenshot and sentence makes me speculate. It's probably way off-mark, but speculating is still fun anyways. :P

    Mitchell's expressions are very distressed-looking in his two screenshots. I was wondering about Brandon's remark that Angel is Kyrene's only competition. Mitchell is one of the names on her profile who Kyrene hasn't slept with yet. Angel's name isn't on that list however, which surprises me due to his sexual orientation. It makes me wonder about what they're competing for and about. ^_^

  5. Eh, I don't think Kyrene fought dirty...I think it was smart. She used everything to her advantage to get him off guard and ultimately distracted enough to beat. Smart move LOL

  6. A LOT of food for thought in this little excerpt - and in the comments afterwards too! I'm not sure I have much more to add :)

    At first I wondered why Maria was surprised that Kyrene had slept with Alex because she would know about Kyrene's preferences. Then I realised it was probably more that Alex had slept with Kyrene, bringing his total up to four which, from what I've read so far, is unusually low.

  7. Just got caught up since I missed last weeks chapter (long story).

    Very interesting reading, I like how each person has a weakness, and you don't really need to be faster or stronger to defeat them, you simply need to know what that weakness is.

    And Angel is Kyrene's only competition? Interesting, I'm curious to find out why.

    Great chapters mate :)

  8. Oh gawd, I can't imagine being in Paula's shoes. Just when she was *cough*swooning over Alex the last chapter, Maria announces that Alex and Kyrene slept together before. XD I wonder what funny thoughts Brandon will be reading from her.

    It was kinda hilarious that they were sparring like it was just a game, and Angel already knew he was going to finish Kyrene after everyone else couldn't. Don't their internal ranking against each other move all the time? Or do they stay stagnant (can't get any better) after probably mastering their own powers?

    And, ah, Brandon's fangs are showing. ;) I'm really curious as to what he was thinking when he first took Alex on. Really just as a protective big brother or is it because it's Alex?

  9. this is fantastic!

    Mariah catching heat between Alex and Kyrene doesn't surprise me; I think most women (and probably most men) can see THAT pretty easily. And is that dirty fighting? Isn't the whole point to find your opponent's weakness and take advantage of it? I think she was exceptionally smart!

    Love the way you describe the differences between Brandon and Alex. I can see the sparring as an act of protection, a reminder.

  10. Great stuff, and some really neat staging. Kyrene and MAria are both intriguing and there was so much tension in this chapter (in various forms!) that just spoke volumes.

  11. Tesseracta, oh good catch with that detail! Angel is not on the list in Kyrene's profile. With Kyrene though, sex is very open, so it wouldn't necessarily mean that he and her had sex together in a traditional sense.

    Poor Mitchell did look quite distressed in his pictures, lol.

    Also, speculate away! I'm thinking the next part is just going to be called "part 2." It'll be pretty fitting I think.

    Heredon, lol, true good point. Sometimes you do gotta do what you gotta do.

    Illandrya, actually, you bring up a very good point too. I hadn't even thought about that. If Maria was surprised that Kyrene had slept with Alex, it would probably be out of character considering what she knows. But it probably would surprise her to find out about Alex. Plus, I wonder if there isn't more she'd figured out considering last chapter.

    Poida, hey there. I'm just glad to see you and see you've updated!

    Yes, exactly. I do believe that everyone has a weakness. It's their job to try and hide it, but it's the opponent who has to find it.

    Thank you.

    Ning, you have to admit it's difficult to not swoon over Alex. But yeah, probably finding out that he's slept with Kyrene, even if there's only a possibility he could sleep with her, would probably really suck for Paula.

    Oh good question. I don't really see it changing much. I think all the higher ups (the Generals) have their places. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses. That doesn't mean they won't surprise each other now and then, but for the most part, things are rather stagnant. (That doesn't mean their powers are. I think that it depends on the person and the power. Sometimes there are new tricks they can learn.)

    They would still have to defend themselves from lower ranks wanting to move up. I'm sure there are a few of those people who challenge them every so often. (Though I see Kyrene being smart with those under her. She'd probably find ways of bringing them into her confidence, making them her trusteds. Oh that's a completely different topic all together, isn't it? lol!)

    Brandon and his fangs. XD I like the idea of a warning and a reminder. Alex started at a disadvantage not knowing how Brandon fights exactly. But from what I know about Alex, he observes and learns quickly. So it's possible that Brandon was warning him. Or maybe even testing him.

    SB, aw thank you.

    lol, that's true. I think you can see something like that if you're paying attention. Well for Kyrene I think it was dirty fighting, lol. Normally sex and fighting are separate for her. Here she is at play, and also probably sending out her own little subconscious message at the same time. (Like when my cats rub up on new things I bring home. We swear we can hear them saying, "Mine.")

    Thank you. I do intend on taking a picture with everyone standing next to each other for height and body comparisons one of these days because it's so fun. In TS3 you're not just crafting the faces but the bodies too.

    But yes, exactly. A definite reminder and an act of protection.

    Rad, thank you. You know me. I love a good bit of tension. Just wait 'til next week! LOL!

  12. I was actually very pleased to see that they don't really hurt each other in these sparring events. I was fearing that they would, and seeing as how they're all mostly something of friends, it seemed like an awful thing. But in reality, they're actually helping each other, in practice, so this is good, lol!

    Ack, poor Paula - that has to be intimidating knowing that he's been with someone as bold and confident as Kyrene.

  13. Oooh, and I'd love to see a comparison shot with all the different heights and body shapes! It's one of the things I'm most looking forward to in TS3 (when I get that far, lol!).

  14. Exactly. It's just friends helping each other practice. It'd probably be a good time to for them to chat normally, find out what's going on in their areas, stuff like that.

    I know, poor Paula. Though when you think about it... well I was a little surprised about what Paula felt. Hopefully I can make that clear.

    Also, you've reminded me again that I should do that, so I will right now! Before I forget.

  15. Well played, like gladiators in a ring, lots of tension. Alex continues to intrigue in a sorts of delicious ways. And Brandon as well, for that matter.
    Great accompanying shots for the faux battles. Or were they faux?
    I think Pauls's interest in Alex has been kicked up a notch, not that I blame her~

  16. Thanks Drew. Oh they were real fights. I would just grab them as the fought into more interesting positions.

    lol, yeah, I would agree with you-- Paula's interest has been kicked up!