Quarantine Tournament: Round One

Quarantine Tournament: Round One

A Story by Rachel
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One of the sites I frequent a lot holds Original Character Tournaments. So, I joined one with writing. I thought that it was good writing, so here it is.

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     “For the life of me, I cannot remember, what made us think that we were wise and we’d never compromise. For the life of me, I cannot believe we’d die, for these sins, we were merely freshmen.” I groaned and picked up the phone before the ringtone could repeat itself.

     “Mmm, Johni, why are you calling me so early.” I looked over at my clock. It was only 10 o’ clock. I still had another five hours before I had to be up and another seven before I wanted to. I’d only gone to sleep three hours ago for Christ’s sake.

     “So, by that response I presume that I have reached Devilynn Shiruba?” The voice was not at all what I expected.  It was deep, and decidedly male where I’d expected Johni’s feminine tone.

     “You have. Now, who are you and why do you have my best friend’s phone.” I was wide awake. Johni loved that phone. I’d gotten it for her on her last birthday, and she hadn’t parted with it willingly since.

     “Your best friend you say? Well, you really should have kept an eye on her than. You seem to have misplaced her. Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of her.” I shot up, my wide eyes showing me every detail of my darkened room.

     “If you hurt so much as one hair on her head, I’ll-”

     “You’ll what, Ms. Shiruba? Kill us? Make us wish we’d never been born?” I heard the anonymous voice laugh coldly. “No, I think not. But don’t worry, we have no use for harming her. If you’ll look outside you’ll find that one of my people is waiting to bring you to her. It’ll be an even trade, you for her. You’ll make such much of a better hostage. You see you actually have parents to buy you back.” By this time I’d already looked out the window, squinting past the glare of the sun to see a black limo waiting. I hissed before hanging up on the S.O.B.

     I went over to my wardrobe, mentally coming up with what I could do. I ran a hand through my short hair as I stared at my reflection in the mirror. The color of my naturally maroon colored hair was easily visible against my pale skin. I sighed and picked up my favorite black cargo pants along with a black tank. I walked into the bathroom and closed the door.

     Money, that was what all of this was about. Johni was in danger because of money. I laughed, but it sounded humorless, even to me. I’d never thought in all of my days that this could happen, not over money. I pulled on my clothes before walking out in socked feet. I slipped on my combat boots and grabbed my trench coat as I neared the door. My hand lingered over my sword where it sat on the hallway chair. I sighed and grabbed it before I walked out the door. It was better to be safe than sorry.

     I threw on my coat on the way down, reveling in the whooshing sound it made as it cut through the air. I put my sword on with the same familiarity that Johni had with putting on her purse. Before I had time to do much else, I’d already reached the bottom of the three flights I had to come down to reach the bottom. I did my best to cover up any panic as I opened the door. The resulting face came out cold and dangerous. I stepped up to the black limousine to have the door opened for me with a nod. I gracefully stepped in, but deigned to sit on the empty floor instead of the comfortable seats. I couldn’t bear the thought of being comfortable while I didn’t know what was happening to Johni.

     “If they hurt a single hair on her head, I’ll hunt them to the ends of the earth and back before making their lives a living hell.” I said with complete honesty. Johni was my only friend, not to mention my roommate. She was closer than anyone I’d ever met, maybe even closer than my mother. I listened to the tires run across the road with a sigh. It looked like I would be here for a while.

 

 

     By the time the car came to a stop, I’d already run through hundreds of situations, hundreds of dread oaths, and had hundreds of reactions spanning through humor to anguish. The door was opened and I got up carefully, making sure with every sense I had that the only person at the door was the same one who had brought me here. It was. I hopped out and stood still while the man got in and drove away.

     “At least he’s smarter than me,” I muttered as I looked up at the looming building before me. I couldn’t tell which, but it was either falling apart or hadn’t been all the way built. Either way, it was a wreck with a gaping hole where the right wing of the 7th floor should have been. The wind playfully tousled my hair, giving me courage. I took a deep breath. “Well, here it goes.” And with that I marched up to the door and into the building.

     My eyes adjusted immediately to the dim lighting on the inside, clearly run off of a generator. I eyed the cobwebs and dust with disgust. I was a bit messy, but I never in any of my wildest dreams would have let it get this bad.

     “Really?” I said with a grimace, “Really. Blech.” I carefully stepped over the corpse of a rat before I looked around. I was in a half built hallway with rows of empty doorways on both sides.  “Hmmm…Where-?” I heard a piercing scream and ran forward, ducking into the second to last door on the left. I thought I’d heard the scream come from in here, but something was wrong. There wasn’t anyone there. I turned slowly towards the door my eyes lingering on the spot beneath the bare bulb that I’d been sure was where I’d find Johni. I whipped my head around only to be stopped by a hulking figure in the door way. I backed up.

     “Where’s Johni?” I demanded, acting like I wasn’t scared out of my wits. It wasn’t hard. I’d done it way too many times.

     “Where’s Johni, Where’s Johni, Where’s Johni?” I heard a harsh bark of laughter behind me. I turned to look for the source, the man who’d called me earlier, but there was no one there. “You sound like a broken record player.”

     “What else am I supposed to say?” I let stinging sarcasm color my tone, “Am I supposed to say ‘Hey there, Would you like some Earl Gray’?” I snorted.

     “We have a feisty one!” The laughter smashed through the room again, causing a couple more behind me, “Too bad it won’t help you.” I felt someone come up behind me, but resisted the urge to move. They didn’t have to know how good I was yet.

     “Really, why’s that?”

     “Well, you see, you’re quite trapped little mouse.” A circle of broad men stepped into the light, “And they don’t seem too inclined to let you out.” The laughter rang out as I felt a pressure on my right pressure point. I smiled and went down with it before swirling to kick the guy’s legs out from underneath him. It was my turn to laugh now.

     “That might be true,” I said as I dodged a charging man, “If you hadn’t caught a saber-toothed tiger in a mouse trap.” The longer I dodged, the more people seemed to be in the room. I looked desperately for a way out now that it was obvious that Johni wasn’t here, if she ever had been. Just as I saw a clearing in the sea of men in front of me, the entire world went black.

 

 

    " Ugh…” I tried to get up, but found that I couldn’t. I settled for opening my eyes. I could see a thin man in what looked like an Armani suit talking to a soldier. They were standing outside of a…a metallic dome. A metal dome that loomed out of the lifeless desert. I saw something shiny exchange hands. “What the-?”

“She’s awake,” I heard a man say above me before I succumbed to the darkness at the suggestion of a pressure at my temples.

 

 

     I groaned again, as my eyes fluttered open. I found that I was laying under an almost cement roof. I felt one eyebrow lift. It looked like cement, but, then again, it didn’t. I shook my head and decided it wasn’t worth the energy to work out what it was. I was about to get up when someone spoke.

     “Good. You’re awake.” I sat up to find a younger looking woman with an apron over her skin tight white jumpsuit standing at the end of my bed. “I wondered when you’d be able to move around. She moved closer with a smile and sat on the chair beside the bed. Her blue hair shown in the dim light, and her sharp ears poked through on either side of her head.

     “Where am I?” I asked hesitantly. The last thing I remembered was the dome, and it hadn’t looked like a very good place to be stranded.

     “Carcera City,” She answered quickly. “It’s not much, but it’s home.”

     “And where’s that?”

     “Oh, goodness,” She covered her face with a sigh. “They didn’t tell you anything did they?”

     “Nope.” I popped the p for emphasis. “I’ll bet that they told you I got knocked out on accident, too.” She nodded. “Nope. They did it after they pretended to have my sister.” She looked to one side, a curious silver collar glinting in the light as she cursed under her breath.

     “There’s nothing for it.” She looked me in the eye. “You have been entered into a tournament. A fighting tournament, so it’s a good thing you thought to bring that.” She pointed to the blade that was on the table beside me. Apparently the people had been told not to touch, because she saw the light in the nurse’s eyes as she looked at it. That normally meant it was worth something.

     “What’s the tournament for?” I asked, even though I would have rather asked how I could get out of it. I had a pretty good idea of how that went by her tone.

     “Whatever you want.” She said with a glance at the door. Something told me that she was stuck here just like I was. “They’ll give you whatever you desire.”

     “Well, I actually meant what was the purpose of the tournament in the first place, but that’s nice to know too.” I smiled at her. Not the sarcastic grin I had shown the guys in that abandoned building, but a genuine one.

     “Well, they say it’s just for sport, but the real reason is to clear the land.” She sighed, “A plague went through a couple of years ago, and it made everyone crazy. That’s why the dome is here. To keep it in. That’s also why we wear these.” She pointed to the collar on her neck.

     “Then why don’t I have one?” I asked skeptically.

     “You do.” She got up and snapped the silver ring on my neck before I could say a word. “Now, if you want some food before you head out, follow me. If not, there’s the door.” She walked off in the opposite direction of the door. My belly rumbled, causing me to sigh before grabbing my sword and following her.

 

 

     “So,” I asked after my first sip of some surprisingly tasty soup. “Where is it that I’m supposed to fight these people?” I was sitting across from my caretaker in a large room full of long tables and a million chairs.

     “Anywhere in the dome, as long as it isn’t here. This is the one place anyone is safe. You can’t stay for long though, or else they’ll throw you out.” She grimaced and tucked a stray piece of her curious blue hair behind one of her strange ears.

     “Ah.” I thought about asking who I was fighting, but I had an idea that I’d find out soon enough. I was about to ask about supplies when a speaker crackled somewhere behind me. First a voice screeched through the room in a language I didn’t know, no surprise since I wasn’t on earth, but then it switched over to English.

     “Attention contestants of the Quarantine Tournament!” a male voice ripped through the hall, “You have all been assigned a new task in addition to defeating your opponent. You will destroy the creature known as ‘IT’! This creature has been killing your kind protectors and endangering the livelihood of the tournament! God speed and good luck.” The speaker went on in yet another language, but I was too busy staring at Kari across the table as she cursed under

     “Is that all you could think of to call the thing? ‘It’? It sounds like a cheesy movie title.” I chortled.

     “Laugh all you want, but the thing is deadly.” Kari said with a sad face, “No one has survived long enough to even tell us what it is. That’s why we only call it ‘It’.” She shook her head at her incorrect grammar. She hated incorrect grammar, that much I’d gathered within the first few minutes with her. She was blunt, she was an elf of some sort, and she hated incorrect grammar. That and her name was all I’d gathered so far.

     “I’m sure,” I replied drily, “I just couldn’t help myself. With a name like ‘It’ what did you expect?”

     “I’m not sure what I expected. I don’t suppose I expected anything.” She shrugged with a sigh and pointed at my now empty bowl. “Are you ready to head out, or are you going to sit here asking me questions until the tournament is over?”

     “I’m not going to lie to you, the last one sounds pretty good.” I looked at her and saw her face was soft.

     “No doubt it does.” She then shook her head and got up. “Come, I’ll walk you to the door.

 

 

 

     “It’s best this way, you know.” A voice behind her stated. Kari gasped and whirled around. The man was standing in the shadows of the doorway, his pleasant voice in contrast to his shadowed form.

     “Best for who? Her, me, or you?” She asked calmly.

     “Suit yourself. But you know what she’ll ask if she wins.”

     “I don’t know anything.” She said, relying on a half truth. No one knew anything about this girl, but Kari had learned enough to know that she was a lot nicer than most of her clientele. The man chuckled humorlessly.

     “We’ll see won’t we.” And then he was gone. Kari turned and stared after the strange cat eyed girl.

     “I wish you luck, young warrior.” She whispered. “May you live to see me another day.” And then she turned back to the hospital in which she was imprisoned.

 

 

     I sighed as I carefully avoided yet another pile of sharp rocks that looked strangely familiar. The whole city under the cursed metallic dome was in ruins. The nicest thing I could see was the citadel in the center. It had large skyscrapers that seemed to touch the top of the dome itself, and each one had windows. None of the buildings around her had windows. I stopped and looked around. I could have sworn I heard footsteps. I shook my head quietly and stepped inside of the rickety building to my left. There was a second story, and I knew it would give me an advantage to be able to see more than a couple of feet above me. I mounted the stairs and began to climb.

     “At least the stairs aren’t broken,” I muttered, “No matter what I think of this strange material, at least it holds up.”

     I had my katana loose in its sheath. Just in case. I had throwing stars in the inside pocket of my jacket too. But I felt like I still needed something stronger. Something told me that my steel wouldn’t survive too long here. On earth, yes, but not here. I sighed as I opened the door onto the roof.

     “There’s got to be something there.” I said, looking towards the skyscrapers. I sighed. “Johni. If I make it home I’m going to beat her.” I snorted then stepped onto the next roof.

 

 

     “I’m sure that’s her, Toji. She has to be.”

     “You said that the last ten times we saw a girl with purple hair, and every time it turned out she wasn’t.” The tiger growled. “You really ought to pay more attention to people. The old man said that she would have purple hair, golden cat’s eyes, and would beat you at sword play.” The tiger’s own golden eyes shone with amusement as he looked upon his master. “Face it, Herron, you’ll have to test the theory sometime.”

     The boy flipped back his dark blue hair, making his long ears more visible.

     “I’ll have to do no such thing. She’s a contestant. I’ll just watch her. Sooner or later she’ll have to fight someone.” He sighed and started walking across the roofs behind her reveling in the silence of his best friend’s quiet padding.

     It won’t be long, Toji thought to himself. There’s someone walking this way.

 

 

     I was back on the ground level now. I was following someone. One was a woman, the other a man, both complete opposites in every way, or so it seemed. The man was ranting on an on, occasionally glowing, while the woman in armor listened and occasionally commented too quietly for me to hear. By the collars on their necks, I recognized them as contestant. I just didn’t want to show myself quite yet. I didn’t know much as far as the metals past earth went, but her simple 2h was plenty to warn me away.

     “This absolutely ridiculous!” the man said for the fourth time since I’d begun watching, “Why would they let us in here if they were just going to make us go do their dirty work! Let them do their own killing, I say, and let’s get out of here!” His throat glowed red for a moment.

     “You know we can’t do that, Ari.” The young woman stated. She carried her helmet easily under one arm, and held her sword on her shoulder with the other. “We promised-”

     “We promised to be a part of the contest, yeah. Yes, I know.” He said with a sigh. “Doesn’t mean I like it. Now we have to find this creature of some sort. We don’t even know what it is!” He rolled his eyes and looked like he was about to hit something, but he didn’t. “And we have to beat the crap out of some no good contestant too. What’s next, the finding the cure for the next plague?” He threw up his hands before turning back to the road. He kept walking, muttering under his breath.  I stayed where I was, trying my best not to laugh. This had happened several times. He’d ramp up, she’d say something, and then he’d calm down. For a while. I moved on when I was sure I could control myself, careful not to disturb anything as I hurried to follow them. I caught up easily, but found myself wary. I felt like I was being watched.

     I kicked a rock as I half turned to see what was behind me. I cursed myself and ducked into a nearby house. I held my breath as I listened for their reaction.

     “It was probably a rat or something.” I heard the muddy haired man assume.

     “That was no rat,” I heard her say softly before she raised her voice. “Show yourself. There’s no need to hide like vermin.” She spoke with a calm air. Like she had no temper to speak of. I kind of liked her for it. I sighed before slowly walking into the open.

     “How dare you follow us!” the man, Ari, started, and then he was off on another tirade. The woman almost smiled. I chuckled and moved closer.

     “Does he always do this, or are you two just having a bad day?” I asked with a cool smile.

     “Always,” She said with a quiet voice. Her lips twitched, but she didn’t quite smile. I couldn’t tell if she was holding in back because I was there, or if that was just her. As Ari took a breath she interrupted. “Ari, she obviously meant nothing by it. I believe she was merely observing before she presented herself to us. Am I correct?” She asked coolly. Ari looked slightly pacified, but he continued ranting under his breath, shooting glances at me.

      “You are.” I said just as coolly, offering a smile. “I believe introductions are called for. My name is Devilynn.” I held out my hand.

      “And mine is Tallula.” She took my hand and shook it firmly. “And this is Ari.” He looked up at the mention of his name. I smiled at him and held out my hand again.

     “Pleased to meet you.” He muttered, his brows knitted together.

     “On other occasions I would be pleased to meet both of you. I may still be pleased to meet you both of you, but…As you can see…” I put a finger under my collar with a grimace. “And seeing as I can see…” I gestured to the intricate emerald collar on my fellow warrior, and the bandages on her friend, whom I assumed was a healer.

     “So, it’s meet and beat is it,” Ari said. Well, screamed. “Well no sir! I won’t stand for it! I’ll, I’ll-”

     “Ari,” Tallula was in front of Ari, smiling slightly. He looked up at her and then down. He’d moved forward, causing me to back up. I didn’t want to hurt him, and she knew it now. Apparently so did he.

     “Oh…” he trailed off and backed up. Tallula backed up also in response, turning to look at me.

     “Shall we do it school style?” I asked calmly as I drew my sword, twirling it nonchalantly.

     “School style?” Ari asked, unable to contain himself.

     “No blood,” The warrior murmured in his direction before putting on her helmet. I couldn’t tell, she was a lot more introverted than I was, but she seemed almost excited. “That’ll be much harder for me than you, friend.”

     I smiled, looking down for a moment before looking back up.

     “Well then. I hope I brought my running shoes.” I took the initiative and leapt back creating a space of about 10 yards between us after the third leap. I straightened, and then bowed, ever the drama major. “When you are ready.”

     She looked to Ari and was about to speak when he interrupted.

     “I know, I know! Get behind the rock, get out of the way, I get it.” He threw up his hand before walking a short distance to sit on a relatively flat piece of rubble. I heard him grumble as he settled his gray robes and grinned again. And so it began as Tallula stalked forward. She was quieter than I expected in her strange pale armor. It looked much stronger than the steel of my sword, which was why I’d chosen no blood as a combat style. It gave just as decisive a win, with less of a mess.

     I stepped forward to meet her, touching my blade to her in the universal sign of good luck before I stepped back with a flourish. We didn’t circle like most would, one around the other, but more evenly. Every step she made I matched, and every step I made she matched. I knew we were in for the long haul as she brought up her huge blade and took the first stroke.

     As it swung down, I side stepped, parrying her blade with mine so that I came side to side with her. I was only protected from her blade by mine, and she was only protected from any blow from me by her armor. I ducked beneath her on coming arm as she swung, just a bit faster because I didn’t have the weight of armor.

     Neither of us spoke, either to provoke or to congratulate as some would, but rather concentrated on the task at hand. I heard a cheer as I rolled along the ground and jumped up just in time to agilely deflect another blow from the flat of her two handed broadsword. I made sure to keep all of my direction light, using the edge of my sword. I knew that if I tried to be too forceful, mine would break and I would lose.

     I was about to go on the offensive when I saw something from the corner of my eye. I lightly blocked the oncoming sword before looking. What I saw both stunned me and moved me to action. A huge spider-like creature that was making its way towards us and Ari was in the way. He’d moved from the rock to yell during the excitement.

     “Ari!” I lightly blocked again before turning toward Ari. I ran forward, hearing a sharp intake of breath as Tallula saw the beast. I heard her follow, but I got there first. I leapt over Ari, using a rock for extra height I landed on the beast’s head.

     “Ew,” was all I had the chance to say before it threw me off. I landed on my feet, sweeping my sword out before resuming the attack, slashing at its leg. There was a screech as I pulled away, followed quickly by another as Tallula joined me.      Somehow I got the idea that she was there more for Ari’s benefit than mine. I dove back in to try for the belly, but I missed even jumping. I instead switched tactics, slashing at another leg before ducking into a nearby building. I raced up the stairs, watching  through the window as I went. Ari was ranting again. I caught that he thought that I’d run away. I smiled as I burst through the roof door and lunged for the edge. With a flying leap, I jumped onto the arachnid’s back. It started to shake, trying to dislodge me, but Tallula was too big of a threat for it to continue. I silently thanked her as I plunged my blade deep into the flesh of the spider. There was a high pitched squeal as the creature reared. I fell and, try as I might, my landing failed due to unseen rocks that slipped when I caught them at an angle. I blacked out.

 

 

     “Get out of the way, Toji! She needs our help!” the elf screamed.

     “No she doesn’t, Herron!” the Tiger yelled right back before clearing his throat and continuing in a lower voice. “She doesn’t need you right now, Herron.” He turned to check how things were progressing. “See? Look how the healer glows as he helps her? She helped them, so they’re helping her.” Herron stopped pushing; his shoulders slumped in defeat as he placed his hand on the blue tiger in front of him.

     “We should have been down there in the first place.” He muttered.

     “Next time. We’ll be there next time.” Toji said with relief. “Just remember. It’s a contest. We can’t interfere with her battles.”

     “I know.” The young man sighed, running his hand through his azure locks. “But we’ll be there to help her afterwards.”

     “Exactly.” The tiger agreed before turning to watch what would happen.

 

 

     “Where’s the party?” I said muzzily as my sight returned.

     “She’s awake.” Ari murmured, quiet for once. I smiled.

     “Oh my god, you’re not yelling. I must be dying.” I chuckled, then winced. I heard another chuckle and turned my head to see Tallula to my right.

     “Tell me,” She stated with a cool smile, “Are you always so dramatic when you fight?”

     “Pretty much,” I held my hand to my head as I fell back, dizzy from trying to sit up. “I study drama as a job, what do you expect?”

     “Give it a minute, before you try to stand okay?” Ari snapped. I giggled.

     “That’s better.” His hands glowed red, and I wondered what he was doing before I got distracted.

     “You won.”

     “What was that?” I wasn’t quite sure I’d heard what I thought I heard. It sounded like she was letting me win.

     “You won,” She repeated for my sake. “You saw that Ari was in trouble before I did.” She shrugged, “So you win.” I felt my eyes widen as I turned to look at Ari.

     “She likes you a little bit, doesn’t she?” He blushed and shrugged, quiet for only the second time. I chuckled, reaching over and patting his hand, a familiar gesture that I used a lot with Johni. “I’ll bet you’re a good brother.”

     “He is.” Tallula acknowledged, causing Ari to mutter something before standing up and going over to her. It wasn’t until now that I noticed the bubbles in her armor. She saw my gaze and answered my unasked question. “The spider spit acid. If it wasn’t for a quick shield spell it would have gotten my face a couple of times.”

     “That explains the dangerous creature bit.” I muttered as I slowly sat up. The ground stayed where it should, so I didn’t feel a thing as I switched my stance to Indian style. “I still find the fact that they called the thing ‘It’ humorous.”

     “You would.” Ari snorted. I guess you’d tend to yell less when a person saved your life a couple of minutes after they met you.

     “Yep.” I grinned then got up. “Will you guys need anything, or can I be off?”

     “I think we can manage,” Tallula said drily. So I clapped her on the shoulder, causing a short rant from Ari, then did the same, though considerably lighter, to him. I was about to say goodbye when I noticed the shoddy bandages they were working with. I pulled out my first aid kit.

     “I have some better bandages, if you’d rather.”

     “Finally someone with sense!” Ari yelled, then his eyes narrowed. “Wait, how’d you get good bandages?”

     “Made friends with a nurse at the base.” I smiled mischievously. “You’re welcome to some of them if you want them.”

     “Please.” He said, satisfied as he carefully picked out three or four rolls of bandages. “Thanks.” He grabbed Tallula’s hands and began the rewrapping process.

     “Okay.” I chuckled lightly tapping both of their shoulders again as I left them at the flat boulder to fetch my sword from the spider. “Yucko.” I muttered, wiping my sword on the spider’s hair before putting it back in its sheath. I walked back around, careful to avoid the puddles of blood and acid. I waved, getting a tired wave in return, then turned and walked back in the direction of the center of town.

 


© 2010 Rachel



Author's Note

Rachel
Okay, so if you want the full story as to the root of the contest that I made this for, you can look up the Quartine Tourney on deviant art. You can also find the references for Tallula and Ari there.

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very strange but good as always....needs an edit also as always

Posted 6 Years Ago



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Added on January 13, 2010
Last Updated on January 13, 2010

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Rachel
Rachel

Ratcliff, AR



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Well, I'm ever so slightly insane, to start with. In my opinion, insanity is a necessity for any artist, be they writer, singer, player, or doodle-bug. I love to write, though I often get stuck, and l.. more..

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