I woke up at around four, which is the normal time. I noticed that Eric’s group were all back, all safe and sound, the pain in my hand (as well as the gel in the bandage) pretty much gone. I also heard groans from all around, and I couldn’t hear that much chanting from outside. I got up slowly. When I did, I saw Robert staring at me balefully from his bed. He seemed to be trying to sleep, and intensely jealous that I seemed rested.
I took in the room. From my position in the corner, I could see across the entire room. The beds seemed to be mostly full. Some people were moaning in pain, others were groaning, others were sleeping, others were sitting up talking. Then, I noticed that Michael seemed to be sleeping, or at least, someone was sleeping in his bed. Then I realized that it wasn’t someone tucked in really well, it was a body bag laid on top of the bed.
“You realize we have the day off today, Killer?” Robert asked muzzily. “Which means we don’t have to get up?”
“Oh.” I paused, then tried to go back to bed. “Sorry.”
The problem with that was that idea was that I couldn’t. I tried to, but in the end I probably did more to wake up the others than just getting up would have. So I got up and quietly walked out into the barracks.
I made sure to avoid bumping into the various medical personnel in the barracks when I moved into the main corridor that separated the male half from the female half. As I did so, I noticed how many beds were filled with body bags. When I actually got to the main corridor, I noticed the two Campus Security Guards standing by the door, with what looked like black SCAR-H assault rifles pointed at the ground.
I debated internally whether or not I should talk to them for a few minutes. Then a guard motioned for me to stop. “Sorry,” he said with a slight French accent, “but you are not allowed to be leaving ze building.”
“Can you at least tell me what’s going on outside?” I asked.
“There ees only a few people left,” he said. “They should be done witheen zee hour.”
“Ok,” I said, “just waiting to see if any of my friends made it. They mostly live in other dorms. Everyone I care about in this dorm’s back, so…”
“So I’m not your friend?” A cockney voice quipped. “I’m right hurt by that, mate.”
I didn’t even need to turn around to know who it was. “We’re friends?” I asked sarcastically. “I didn’t know that stalking, blackmail and beating the crap out of people was something you do with your mates in jolly old England.”
I turned towards the women’s side of the barracks after I said this. Leaning against one of the beds was Eliza. She was covered in mud and blood, the mud spread evenly across her body, the blood mostly staining her kevlar jacket. Due to the jacket being unbuttoned, I noticed that the white t-shirt beneath it was still mostly clean and not ripped or torn in the slightest.
Her face, however, told a different story. She seemed defeated by something. Her normally mischievous look was replaced by the smile of someone who was desperately trying to find something to be happy about. I wasn’t exactly sympathetic, but I began to debate toning it down.
Her smile faltered. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I acted like a right shite, didn’t I?”
I nodded. “Kinda. If it makes you feel better, most people are still behind the curve here.” She brightened a bit. “I’m still more than a little pissed,” I continued, “and it’ll be a while until I forgive you, if ever, but I need all the allies I can get at the moment.”
“Fair enough,” she said, “Come on, step into me office.” She headed off, motioning for me to follow. I did, figuring I had nothing to lose. As we walked, I noticed that most of the beds had body bags on them.
“Unless things changed a lot after I went in,” Eliza said, “girls were just as likely as boys to be slabbed. However, for some reason, I got put in a section with all the silly little bitches who knew nothing about fighting.”
“Maybe they want some sections to suffer higher casualties than others,” I said. “You know, simulating an actual battle.”
We finally got to her bed. I realized it was in the mirror position of mine. “Reckon you’re right,” Eliza said as she sat on her bunk. “Right sick bastards they are, so it wouldn’t surprise me.” Something about her posture suggested she felt the same thing could be applied to her as well. She then shook it off, and then patted the spot on the bed next to her. “Sit, sit. No need to stand.”
I looked around a bit. I saw that on the bed behind me was a body bag. “No worries,” Eliza said. “I don’t bite.”
“You do have a tendency to stab people with bone-claws,” I said on reflex. I instantly regretted it.
Eliza’s face became very blank. “You ‘eard ‘bout that, didn’t you?”
“I made friends with one of the medics,” I said. “From the way I hear it, it was surprising anyone managed to beat you.”
She laughed bitterly. “I’m undefeated. You can recuse yourself, remember?” She began to get more animated. “Y’see, the bloody awful thing about being a feral is that you, meaning the conscious part of you, doesn’t exactly ‘ave the control over your subconscious that the average human does. Some wanker pulls a knife on you, you don’t get the option of not popin’ out your claws an’ givin’ ‘im a good slice across the belly.
“Originally, I thought I could learn to control it. Maybe through practice, maybe through meditation, maybe through medication, maybe through some combination. So tonight, combined with the fact that I wanted to win, I made quite the bloody fool out of myself.” She began to glare at the floor. “The thing I learned tonight? I bloody can’t control myself. I’m not… not a human. But I can choose the situations I get in, right?”
“To an extent,” I said. “I mean, you could have left after three people, sure. But sometimes you don’t have that option.” She nodded at this. Then suddenly, something hit me. “If you don’t like doing… this… why don’t you leave?”
She turned the glare from the floor to me. “Why don’t you?”
Seeing as it was the kind of glare that normally makes you try to remember appointments coming from a violent parahuman not fully in control of her own actions, I said hurriedly, “Not sure. I should see if I can get back to sleep. See you around, I guess?” I then hurriedly beat my retreat.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well. When the call came out for us at around six to form up outside, most people grumbled and groaned trying to get up. I, personally, was relieved. I really hate it when I try to go to sleep but just can’t.
We all went into the entrance. The camp commandant and head of Shadowhaven, an older Russian woman named Professor Zemylachka called out, “Form up, you svezheye myaso! Parade positions! Professor Blunt is here!”
Everyone did exactly as ordered. Parade positions are basically everyone gets into a group of fifty (based on where you sleep) and face the cafeteria. Today, there was a portable stage with a podium on it, as well as two bundles of flags on either side. Leaning on the podium was Professor Blunt, a weary look on his face. Standing right besides him was Professor Zemylachka. Judging by how rested she looked, she had gotten a break last night.
Meanwhile, our normally neat ten by ten rows were gone. A few were almost intact, some, like Eliza’s, were almost gone. Most were like mine, with around half the people missing. Between us and the platform was a two deep line of Campus Security. The front row somehow managed to seem at ease despite the fact that they were carrying riot shields. I couldn’t quite see what the second row was carrying, but if I were to guess I would say they were carrying six-shot grenade launchers loaded with tear gas and/or flashbangs.
Due to the formation changes, I had a new person right next to me. He seemed Arabic, and he wore an eyepatch, and had a scar on his throat. Without turning to look at me, he said, “You’re as dead as Amir, you Zionist piece of shit.” Anger throbbed through his voice.
Eric, who was to my other side, responded with, “Careful. You mess with Nathan, you mess with me and my mates.” He paused. “Am I making my position clear? Or would you like to retort?”
The person who I was starting to suspect was Amir’s second-in-command snarled, “I don’t have anything to say to you. You don’t really threaten me, clown.”
If Eric was going to reply (which I don’t think he was) he was interrupted. “Congratulations, maggots,” Professor Blunt said, his voice blurred with sleep. “You fucking did it. You survived and…” He stared off into space for a bit, muttered something along the lines of “what was I going to say,” then said “…You were really bloodthirsty. Fifty-eight point eight casualty rate, from what our medics tell us.”
He blinked a couple times, then continued. “So, what does that tell me? If I was an asshole, I’d say that meant ya’ll were just a buncha pansies or something, compared to the yearly average of forty-nine point nine.” He began to get slightly more animated. “But I’m not. And I was there. Most years, we don’t get four ferals or whatever the fuck Ulfric is.”
At this there was a high pitched giggle. Everyone turned to where the sound was coming from. There was Ulfric Trollbjorn, flanked by two heavily armed Campus Security Guards at the far end of the boy’s side. Apparently, somehow every person in his fifty-person section was either dead or in ICU. I wondered how many of those he had killed personally. I noticed that everyone seemed tense. A few of the Campus Security Guards even turned off the safeties on their weapons.
I noticed that even Professor Blunt eyed Ulfric warily for a few seconds before continuing. “And those of you who did go against… him all showed massive amounts of courage. Incredibly, a few of you are even standing here. However, there is one person I’d like to single out.
“You see, in no other year have I seen any newbie who could take down Ulfric. Hell, I kind of doubt a good chunk of our graduates could.”
Ulfric giggled again. Instantly, some of the Campus Security people raised their weapons to point at him.
“However,” Professor Blunt said, “We found one person this year who could. Why do I think that? Because I saw it happen with my own two eyes! Recruits, I’d like you to give a hand to Bai Feng!”
People clapped wildly. Apparently, people had lost more than a few friends to Ulfric. For example, the guy who had just threatened to kill me was clapping like a madman and yelling something in what I guessed to be Arabic. The TVs on the cafeteria switched on to get a clear look at Bai. She was leaning on crutches, but as soon she noticed she was being filmed, she dropped them.
Bai walked up from somewhere in the girl’s side, limping a bit. I noticed that she had a cast on one leg. She must have been in quite a bit of pain, but she didn’t wince. When the line of Campus Security stepped aside for her, a few of them saluted.
When she got to the platform, Professor Zemylachka offered her a hand, which she shrugged off. She was ushered to stand next to the podium. As she did, a highlight reel began playing on the TV. She apparently had only four fights worth showing. In the first fight, her opponent had gotten lucky and broken her leg. Contrary to all common sense, in the final fight, she had apparently chosen to fight Ulfric.
That was when things had gotten really interesting. She had managed, despite her broken leg, to dodge every single one of Ulfric’s attacks. Her return blows seemed to have targeted nerve clusters, temporarily paralyzing certain areas. Needless to say, I was impressed.
Professor Blunt immediately echoed my feelings. “I know I’ve already expressed my sincere admiration for your talent, humility, determination and professionalism,” he said once Bai’s highlight reel was replaced by an NIU logo, “but this time, it is on behalf of the President and NIU. You have done amazingly well. You should note that we have noted your special circumstances and have allowed you both time to heal from your injuries and we’ve committed to making sure you still are able to complete this course.” He then turned the microphone towards Bai.
Bai blushed. “No, no,” she said, “I don’t deserve it…”
Professor Zemylachka made a dismissive noise loud enough to be audible from where she was standing. Professor Blunt turned back to Bai. “I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. But I have to ask: where did you get the idea to attack the nerve clusters? From what I understand, that’s one of the most difficult moves you can do.”
“It was simply part of my training before I came here,” Bai said modestly. “Also, nothing else seemed to be working.”
“Yeah.” Professor Blunt seemed embarrassed by that. “I guess that’s a decent reason for trying it.” I wondered if the good professor had tried tasing the monster. He then continued on, “So why Ulfric? Why do the dumb thing and go against the monster who’s killed more people at Fight Night than the next two deadliest contestants combined?”
“I had broken my leg,” she said, as if explaining the most obvious thing in the world. “My career was over.”
Professor Blunt shook his head as if he was hearing the stupidest thing in the world. “What do you think you are, a fucking horse?” He asked with impatient disgust. “A broken leg doesn’t end a fucking career. Getting your head ripped off by a kill-crazy giant does.”
He turned back to the rest of us. “LISTEN UP, YOU STUPID ASSHOLES!” He shouted, his face going red. “IF THIS WAS A THEORETICAL EXERCISE, AND ANYONE SUGGESTED THAT SACRIFICING A HIGHLY-SKILLED OPERATIVE, WHO HAS BEEN TRAINED FOR NEARLY EIGHTEEN GODDAMNED YEARS OUT OF SHEER STUBBORNESS, I WOULD FAIL THAT MOTHERFUCKER!” He stopped, took a breath, and resumed shouting.
“THE ONLY REASON I HAVEN’T FAILED HER FOR THIS IDIOCY IS BECAUSE SHE HAD THE DECENCY TO GAMBLE HER OWN LIFE! AT THIS POINT, THE FACT THAT HER GAMBLE PAID OFF IS MEANIGNLESS, BECAUSE IT GAINED HER VERY LITTLE.” He then turned back towards her, and said in a very low voice, “You’re a highly skilled martial artist and really good at sneaking around. However, you are in the wrong program. You’ve enrolled in a program that can teach you nothing and are sorely lacking in other skills, such as common sense and self-preservation. Switch programs.”
Bai Feng looked visibly shaken and on the verge of tears. I had to admit, that was probably Professor Blunt’s intention. He then looked at the sheet. “All right,” he said, “Next up we have…” His eyes widened. “Oh my. Up next we have Ulfric Trollbjorn.”
Ulfric’s reception was massively different than Bai’s. As he walked towards the platform, his two guards pointing SCAR-Hs with fully automatic underbarrel shotguns at his center mass, people booed. People hissed. However, when he occasionally stopped to look at the crowd, people would fall silent where his gaze fell.
Ulfric also had a highlight reel. It was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen. There he was on the screen, killing people. Apparently, he was supernaturally strong, and everyone around him was made of cardboard. Bones were crushed, parts of bodies that should be attatched flew like jet fighters, and people were picked up and used like clubs to beat others to death. There also was a clip that proved how ineffective tasers were against him. He had just punched someone’s face so hard the people in charge had decided to actually pixelate the damage, then continued to beat the corpse. Professor Johnson told him to stop. He didn’t stop. Professor Johnson tased him. Ulfric pulled the leads off, and then glared at the Professor.
He actually looked me right in the eye, right before heading onto the platform. That was probably one of, if not the first up-close looks I had ever gotten at him. Now, I’ve known people who are huge, maybe not in that Sylvester Stallone-type way, but still, I know they’re no different from us regular-sized folk. That may be the reason why I never noticed the wrongness about him. It was hard for me to put my finger on it until he locked eyes and smiled at me.
It would have been bad enough if it had been a normal smile from a man I knew hadn’t even gone twelve hours since he had murdered dozens of people with his bare hands. It was the child-like… I don’t want to use the word innocence. Maybe lack of understanding… Anyway, it was the child-like lack of understanding of his actions that scared me. It was like he was a pre-schooler who had just seen his best friend on the playground after a long vacation. He then walked on towards the stage.
“There goes the most evil man I have ever seen,” Eric said. I turned. He had shuffled a good distance away from me, like someone had just said there was a bomb in my pocket.
“That we agree on,” the Al-Qaeda guy next to me said. He had also edged away from me.
Ulfric, meanwhile, was making his way towards the stage. I noticed that everyone there was slowly inching away, except as Bai. The TVs then showed the stage, giving us a view of Bai and Ulfric locking eyes, everyone else on the stage looking wary. Then Ulfric held out his hand.
Instantly, both Blunt and Zemylachka drew huge handguns, larger than any practical gun. The two Campus Security Guards cocked their weapons. Bai, though, took Ulfric’s hand and shook. After a firm shake, Ulfric leaned in and whispered something into Bai’s ear. Then he moved to stand right by her side.
After the Professors and the Security calmed down a bit, things fell into a routine. Professor Blunt would call them up, and announce why they were being called up. It was usually because they were very violent. Then, the person would be called up to do an interview with Professor Johnson. Then, they would attempt to walk by Ulfric. Ulfric would hold his hand out, and then, whether or not they took it, he would lean in close and whisper something to them.
The first person up was Ricardo Montana. He was a very smooth operator, from what I could tell. He was kind of like a young, somewhat beaten and mal-nourished Ricky Ricardio in some ways. He was able to joke with Professor Blunt and was even able to make Bai blush again. Despite the fact that his highlight reel showed how deadly he was, he still seemed quite likable, if a little cocky.
That overconfidence made him think, for some reason, he could charm Ulfric. For all I knew, he succeeded. However, whatever Ulfric told Ricardo made him go very pale. He then had the unenviable position of standing next to the monster of a man.
Next up was Bai’s twin brother, Li. Apart from the fact that they were both extremely fit Asians, I would never have guessed that they were twins. He was stockier, muscular, taller, and less respectful. He basically used his interview to get into a fight with Professor Blunt and didn’t back down until Blunt threatened to kick him out on the spot.
He also ignored Ulfric’s attempt to shake his hand, but Ulfric still called out to him. He did it loud enough this time for me to make out that it may have been Chinese, which was weird considering how white he was. Whatever he said, it was enough to make Li throw a punch at Ulfric. Li groaned in pain, and Ulfric giggled his terrifying giggle. At least a dozen guns were pointed at Ulfric before people realized that Li had hurt himself. It was at that point I became convinced Ulfric was some kind of parahuman.
After Li had taken his place next to Ricardo, the next person was Oro Okoro. Her skin was slightly darker than Eric’s, and her hair was in dreads. She was about the same size and shape as Li, but that seemed due to malnourishment. It was a somewhat disturbing theme among the people remaining. Also disturbing was how often she killed people with her bare hands. During her interview, through her broken English you could detect a bit of suspicion and hostility. However, she somehow managed to avoid being disrespectful.
When she walked towards Ulfric, she stood, looking at his hand for a moment. Then Ulfric said something. She took it and nodded. Ulfric said something else, and Oro seemed surprised. She walked to her place, as if she had been smacked.
Next up was Eliza. Professor Blunt gave her a pretty good introduction. “Now, here’s the event you’ve all been waiting for! During her second run, she managed to account for sixty wins! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Eliza Henderson!”
Eliza walked onto the stage to somewhat forced applause, like an American President giving a State of the Union to a Congress controlled by the opposing party. I guess Eliza had killed her fair share of people, but had also saved a few from going up against the likes of Ulfric. In fact, apparently her kill ratio was only about two in fifteen, according to Professor Blunt.
I didn’t pay much attention to the interview. After Professor Blunt compared that ratio to the average (one in five,) I had begun to feel a little sick. I had killed someone. It also wasn’t like it was some random person, either. I had also seriously injured another. Eliza may have killed more people, but she actually had better ratios than me.
Also, I was really confused about Eliza. She obviously regretted killing the people she did, but she had killed. In fact, she could have recused herself before she had killed anybody. Also, was she blackmailing me, stalking me or something else? Either way, it was creepier than I really wanted.
This was why Professor Blunt had to repeat my name twice before I realized he was talking to me. I kind of realized that someone was being called up, so I kept clapping. Then I realized that the camera was centered on me. I pointed at myself, a look of utter horror on my face, and Professor Zemylachka responded, “Yes, Mr. Jacobs, you.”
As I walked forwards towards the line of heavily armed people, I could hear booing mixed in with the cheers. Apparently, I was somewhat divisive. I was honestly a little too frightened to turn around to see who was cheering and who was booing. I was reasonably certain, though, that eyepatch guy had booed me. I also didn’t particularly want to look at my highlights reel.
As I walked towards the line of Campus Security, I practiced my relaxation technique, making sure to breathe deep while convincing myself that the crowd behind me was actually the crowd from my first improv night. I was still shocked, somehow, that Campus Security parted for me.
When I wondered why that was, I suddenly realized that, holy shit, the powers-that-be at NIU could know! They could be bringing me on stage to execute me as a warning to the other students. They already had the means to do it, and there was also the audience and…
I stopped, took a breath, then continued on stage. Honestly, I had no evidence that they’d do it. I had never seen them administer any forms of punishment, and if they shot me here, they’d have to worry about a bullet passing through me and hitting one of their best students or a guard. Besides, if they were going to blow my brains out, there wasn’t really anything I could do about it.
When I had climbed onto the stage, Professor Blunt motioned to stand so I could look down the row of violent nut jobs that the ceremony was supposed to honor, as well as giving me a good view of the violent nut jobs who weren’t violent or nutty enough to be “honored.” I could see that everyone on the stage except for Ulfric’s guards were staring at me. There was not a lot of love in the air.
“Nervous?” Asked Professor Blunt. I briefly wondered if he was referring to the little scream I had managed to choke back, the bug-eyed look of terror on my face, the fact that I looked like I was either going to faint or barf, or that I had walked onto the stage like a man being led to his execution.
“Nervous?” I asked with forced cheer, “When I’m surrounded by these teddy bears of human beings? Of course not!”
Other people might have laughed, if Ulfric hadn’t beaten them to the punch. His giggle was still as loud, shrill and ungodly terrifying as usual. Everyone shuddered.
“Thank you, Mr. Giggles,” I said slowly after the long pause that followed. “All comedians appreciate a good audience.” The audience laughed. I think it was the audacity of calling Ulfric Mr. Giggles that did it. Or maybe it was that I seemed to be the most frightened person there to a comical degree. Whatever it was, I got a laugh from people who didn’t have terrifying laughs.
“Thank you, thank you,” I said. “I’ll be in Barracks 3 for the rest of the weekend, performing my hit piece, ‘Hyperventilating into a paper bag: Oh God, Why Won’t It Stop!’ Please don’t come find me for more jokes!”
“Before you start performing your routine,” Professor Blunt said wryly, “would you mind answering a few questions?”
“Potentially,” I said. I considered saying something like my agent says I need a nice relaxing interview, but decided to go with “Go on.”
“So,” Professor Blunt asked, “have you ever been in a fight before?”
“Well,” I said, “The short answer is ‘no.’ The long answer is I have done Tae Kwon-do for about… nine or ten years, I think? I did my share of sparing then, as well as the hand-to-hand combat drills, but that probably doesn’t count.” I paused. “Some of the fights I had with Dickface did come close when the instructors weren’t looking, though.”
Professor Zemylachka’s head snapped to me. “Who is this ‘Dickface?’” She asked. “Killing other students is only acceptable when either myself or Professor Blunt approve.” A few people laughed at that, then realized that she was being serious when she glared at them.
“Y’all don’t know Richard Forrest Taylor the Third?” I asked in a cartoonishly fake Southern accent. I couldn’t stop myself. I had become a comedic monster, a stand-up train without brakes. “Come on, the man works hard to show us Jesus’s love by killing them Jews, blacks, an’ gays!” Professor Zemylachka turned her glare on me. “I… I don’t really like him,” I said in my normal voice. Professor Blunt chuckled. Professor Zemylachka continued to glare. “I’m sorry. I’ll stop.”
“Getting back to the questions,” Professor Blunt said, smiling a bit, “did you think you would be able to do something like this before you came to camp?”
“Well, honestly no,” I said, “I actually did not think I could do something like this. But you guys did help in every way you could.” I’m pretty sure Professor Blunt heard the implied accusation, he just ignored it to focus on the parts that would look good in the recruitment brochure.
“You see,” Professor Blunt said, “any one of you pansies can eventually become good as the people on this stage!” I was about to say something about how maybe Ulfric was an exception, but stopped myself. It wasn’t worth it.
Professor Blunt, oblivious to my thought process, continued on. “I want you all to remember that this little shit stain of a loser who’s never done a day’s work in his life can make it. So can you, you lazy assholes.” I rolled my eyes. Gee, thanks, professor, I thought sarcastically. Professor Blunt then waved at me to go on to my place on the platform. “Go on, get out of my face Jacobs.”
“Yes, sir,” I said, somehow managing to sound neutral and not say something incredibly snarky.
Before I could get to my place, Ulfric held out a hand. I put my hand in his palm, not grabbing because it was too big, and looked him right in the eye. His hand closed around mine, tight enough to prevent escape, but not tight enough to hurt.
If being trapped by a mass-murderer wasn’t enough, his attitude made the situation all the more disturbing. Someone as bloodthirsty as Ulfric should be an angry, bitter person. However, when Ulfric smiled, it was like he had never had a bad day in his entire life.
“You looked me in the eye,” he whispered, a slight Boston accent to his voice. “You’re very brave.”
“Trust me,” I said, “I’m pretty much terrified.
“You still let me take your hand,” Ulfric said, “and you know what I can do. You also aren’t stupid enough to think you can fool me.” He gave me a firm shake, then let go. I hurried to my place in line as fast as I could.
When I was in my position, Professor Blunt began to talk again. “Now that we know you are all somewhat versed in hand-to-hand combat, we will move on to basic rifle training this coming week. You little morons will learn how to load, maintain, and shoot standard firearms. We’ll also teach you gun safety if you assholes don’t possess any common sense.
“In more immediate news, you little shits get the rest of the weekend off. Meals will be at normal times, and you can shower whenever you want. Also, these seven will have their victory meal on Friday. And now without further ado, the best moments of Fight Night!” As Professor Blunt said these words, the screens began to turn on and NIU’s jaunty, militaristic theme began to play.
The images of Fight Night faded in from blackness as the music began to swell. People were beating, stabbing, and strangling each other. One of the more disturbing clips was of me delivering the killing blow to Amir. Apparently, the place I hit had a blood vessel in his head. I suddenly realized that I was still covered in his blood. I felt sick.
After several minutes of people I didn’t know, we got to one of Eliza. Someone had tried to use Amir’s tactic of throwing a rock. It worked until the poor girl got her hands on Eliza’s throat.
Instantly, three claws popped out of Eliza’s hands. One swiped across her face, the other raked across her belly. The poor girl staggered back, and Eliza fell on top of her, stabbing each other rapidly. I couldn’t see the expression on Eliza’s face but I could see her opponent’s look of utter terror and extreme pain as the scream died in her mouth.
I instinctively turned around to get Eliza’s reaction.
She was staring directly at me.