Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Lifesphere Inc: Acqusition - Chapter Eight



Chapter Eight - More Than Just A Fight

Eli thought Squall was exaggerating when she told him to arrive at dawn. He set out from the Rim before first light, but when he arrived at the Aleratorium it had been daylight for an hour and the streets were packed with people. Crowds like this made him uneasy now. What if someone tried to take Phyre? What if Kalex was here looking for him?

Sneaking from the Blueline to the Topside wasn't simple either. Particularly with a growing meka in tow. Phyre was starting to get heavy and he was still carrying her everywhere, despite his injuries, because he was afraid what would happen if he put her down. Without a citizenship card, the easiest way to get from the Blueline to the Topside was through cracks in the city foundations or abandoned pipes. The building commission and the militia worked to patch these up as they were found, but someone could always point him toward a new route.

Getting caught on the Topside without a citizenship card was a bad idea—though he'd done it plenty of times before. At the very least he'd spend a night locked up while they ran tests to check he hadn't brought up some rare disease from the Rim or Undercity. If he got caught committing some other crime, like stealing or accessing network points, it was likely no one would ever hear from him again. Not that there was anyone left who would miss him.

Eli had no intention of doing anything illegal, just of showing up and finding Squall. Which had sounded straightforward until he arrived and saw the mass of people blocking the street. Meka weren't common, but he supposed ‘rare' in a city of twenty million people was still a lot. There were only a few hundred here, but it looked like a flood; meka in every size, shape and color he could imagine. And a few he never would have imagined in a thousand years.

"How are we going to find them in this?" he asked Phyre. His gaze slid over the many scales and horns, fur and teeth. Maybe he shouldn't find Squall at all. There was no way Phyre could compete here, even if they were partnered with Dirge. Every moment he spent here was another moment he wasn't scavenging. But he was desperate. He needed money. If he and Phyre were going to have any sort of future, he needed to do this.

He made his way into the crush. Phyre pulled herself part way out of the backpack to drape her claws across his shoulders, looking at the other meka with interest. She bombarded him with mental images of sight and smell, too excited to contain herself. Apparently, she didn't share his fears.

"Stop it," he scolded. "I can't think when you're doing that. We have to find Squall and Dirge."

Without layers of other buildings pressing down on top of it, the Aleratorium was free to rise into the sky, jostling for space with the skyscrapers around it. Eli had seen it on the vids, of course, but it was something else to be standing right in front of it. It was like an art installation, an eight-story tall slate gray square with a shimmering blue sphere rising out of it.

Inside there was a museum and three main arenas, along with a series of smaller ones, but even the smallest one looked big on the vids. The scale of it up close was monumental; just looking at it gave Eli vertigo. He took a deep breath.

Weaving through the crowd, trying not to bump into any meka that looked like they could eat him, Eli made his way toward the open doors of the Aleratorium and into a huge foyer. He paused there, momentarily stunned, trying to take it all in.

There were ‘Life Without Boundaries' banners everywhere, hung for the event. Fiberglass models of famous meka hung from the vaulted ceilings. At ground level, there were even more models on raised platforms, with plaques listing their accomplishments. Once he would have daydreamed about his meka being there, now he just hoped they made it out of the building alive.

The walls were festooned with screens displaying commercials for the event and epic moments in meka fighting history. Speakers blared a steady stream of advertisements, upbeat jingles with short catch phrases for brands and products:

"D-caps: Vitamin D for those who flow in the glow."

"Pastry Pete's Premium Pies. Now with added vitamin D and point three percent real beef, guaranteed!"

"Soya-ice, made with real soya products. So creamy and sweet, just like real dairy!"

"Live in the moment. See the world through YiFi."

And, everywhere, more people. Some were children and others were in their fifties, striding around with venerable meka at their sides. It was easy to tell the Blueliners from the Topsiders. The Topsiders were decked out with, musi-pods, screensheets, GAUs, YiFi glasses, hand held jabbers, even the latest in body modifications. Anyone with enough money could change their skin tone, or get wyld implants. The Topsiders sported cat ears, fox tails, green skin and even sparkling pink skin with blue tiger stripes.

Sometimes it was hard to tell who was the handler and who was the meka. There was so much chaos, so many alarming things to see, Eli didn't know what to do or where to go.

"Eli!"

Somehow Squall's voice rose over the burbling roar of the crowd and Eli turned to find her making her way toward him. It was an arduous task in her chair; though growing up in the Blueline seemed to have made her quite apt at maneuvering crowded places.

"Hey," he said feeling a wave of relief. "How did you find me?"

She stretched up her hand and Phyre obligingly hung off Eli's chest so Squall could scratch her head. "Dirge sniffed you out."

"He can smell that well?" Eli asked surprised.

"Phyre probably can too. Here—" she held up an arena pass on a string. Eli took it, turning it over in his hand.

"Thanks. How did you sign me up without a citizenship card?" he placed it around his neck, where Phyre toyed with it.

She grinned, "Easy, I acted flustered and pretended I was going to cry."

"That works?"

"It does when you're a cripple."

He gave a startled laugh. "You said it, not me."

She waved him along. "Come on, let's go find somewhere wheelchair friendly to watch the competitions."

It was slightly less chaotic once they left the foyer and entered the arenas. Here, the ceiling rose up hundreds of feet and the vast rows of seating looked out of the equally vast arena space. ‘Wheelchair friendly' turned out to be a platform right alongside the front row. There weren't any chairs, and Eli leaned his forearms on the railing to look out over the arena below. It didn't look like any fighting arena Eli had seen. In fact, there didn't seem to be any fighting going on at all.

"This isn't what I was expecting," he told Squall, puzzled. "What is this?"

Markers along the wall indicated the oval field was one hundred and twenty meters long and he guessed it was half as wide as that. The space had been sectioned into four smaller arenas. One was divided into tracks for racing, another had an elaborate maze of opaque plastic walls. Another racetrack had hurdles and tunnels for the meka to navigate and the last was an even more complex obstacle system.

"You didn't think it was all about fighting, did you?" Squall asked, amused.

He shrugged. "I guess I did."

"Not all meka are built for fighting. Races can make a handler just as much prize money as the fights. Companies arrange other events too. Some are just for fun: egg and spoon races, stuff like that." She seemed so at ease here. Calm and confident. He wondered how many events like this she had been to.

"So, the races, I guess they're safe? The meka can't get hurt, right?"

She tilted her head, studying him, and then sighed. "Eli?"

"What?" he asked dubiously.

"I told you not to get a meka from a black-market dealer, didn't I?"

He frowned. "Yes."

"And you did. And something really bad happened to you."

He shifted uncomfortably, feeling the pull of the stitches on his back. "Yes."

"I know it must have been horrible, but that's not what meka competitions are about. Sometimes meka do get hurt, but they don't get killed. Dirge likes to fight, and maybe when Phyre's had some good experiences, she will too. When I met you, you were so passionate about competing. Now you're just afraid."

He scowled and looked away from her over the arena. "You're wrong. You don't know what it was like."

"Okay, I'll admit I have no idea. But I do know what meka fighting is like when it's done right. It's a rush. It's fun. You shouldn't be afraid to be here. You should be excited."

He clenched his fists, turning to face her. "I'm not excited, I'm just desperate! My troupe kicked me out. The doctor said-" He hissed, angry at himself for raising his voice at her. He looked out over the arena again, trying to force himself to calm again. "I don't want anything bad to happen to Phyre ever again."

She frowned, silent for a long moment. "Doctor, huh? I know a lot about those. Just give this a chance, okay? I'm going to sign us up for a doubles fight today. Just one. And if we win, you can have the prize money. Does that sound like good incentive?"

His heart lurched at the thought. But he needed the money. The last time he had made a deal that seemed too good to be true, Phyre had almost died. Squall wasn't like Kalex though, was she? Still, he said: "You don't have to do that."

"I'm here to play for fun. I can afford to lose."

He felt a flush of humiliation. She was being so nice to him. He hadn't done anything to deserve it. "Thank you. I'm sorry I…" he trailed off, embarrassed.

"I know." She flashed him a grin and despite himself, the corner of his mouth twitched in return. How did anyone forgive so fast?

He felt himself start to relax again. "I think I'm lucky we met at the skypath station that day," he said.

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, you really are." She pointed down into the arena. "Look, this is the first heat for the hurdles."

Eli watched the meka assemble, lulled by the ebb and shift of the settling crowd behind them. The meka jumping the hurdles were sleek and long-legged, clearly not made for fighting. Maybe this was where Phyre belonged. Not jumping hurdles, obviously—her belly practically dragged on the ground—but maybe there was a non-contact competition she would excel at.

Uninterested in his musing, Phyre slithered out of his arms and leapt lightly onto Dirge's back. Eli reached over to snatch her back before the larger meka could snap, but Dirge didn't seem to mind. He peered over his shoulder at her and she waddled up his spine to sit on his shoulders making little grunting noises. Dirge gave a long kind of growl and Squall patted him absently.

"It's almost like they're talking," Eli said to Squall.

She chuckled. "Well, of course they are."

"I didn't know the meka could talk to each other," Eli raised an eyebrow, studying them with renewed interest.

Squall laughed. "You though she could only talk to you?"

He nodded sheepishly.

"The meka can communicate with each other, but she'll always have a greater range with you than other meka. I can be miles away from Dirge and still contact him, but our meka won't be able to talk unless they're on the same street."

"Well," Eli mused. "That will make finding each other at events like this easier."

"It's hard for them to focus when there are so many meka around, but now they know each other a little better it should be possible."

Dirge flopped down on his belly and Phyre slid down his shoulder to curl up between his forepaws, swiping at his chin playfully. Eli smiled. It was cute to see her with another meka. He was glad she wasn't scared of her own kind, even after what they'd been through.

Phyre fell asleep, but Eli and Squall watched the competitions for over an hour. The companionable silence was odd, but he liked it. Sometimes Squall would point things out or make generalized exclamations when the races got exciting, often joining the roar of the crowd behind them, but it was the companionship that was so strange. It was alien to the life Eli had known on the Rim where everyone wanted something, and no one was friends with anyone unless they stood to gain from it.

He tried not to think about Apple. Tried not to wish he could be here to see this too.

"Do you know anything about Nightshop?" Eli asked Squall in a lull.

"Depends," she said. "Some people will tell you it's the pinnacle of meka fighting. They'll say that the true battles happen there, and that the handlers are elite gladiators. Other people say they're a bunch of murdering criminals."

That was what Aunt Cleo had told him too. Did everyone in the world know about Nightshop but him?

"What do you believe?" Eli pressed.

Squall laughed. "I don't. It's not real, you know."

He blinked. "You sure?"

"Pretty sure, yeah. It's just a story. Like monster rats and science labs in the Undercity." She shook her head, amused. "I better go sign us up."

Eli nodded, deciding not to tell her where he had got Phyre. "Yeah, sure. I think," he hesitated, chewing his lip. "I think I'm going to sign Phyre up for one of the races too. Just to see how she goes."

"Sure. I'll meet you back here in a bit, okay?"

Eli scooped up the sleeping Phyre. "Squall."

"Yeah?"

"Nothing."

She grinned. "You were going to say I was wonderful, weren't you?"

"Something like that," he agreed.

She shook her head, amused, and rolled away toward the elevators, Dirge at her side. It was funny, how fast your luck could change.

# # # 

If you enjoyed reading this, please link a friend. The number of page reads sustains me.

And remember, if someone asks what you've been doing this week, you'll sound much more interesting if you tell them what you've been reading, not what you've been doing!


Chapters:
One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine - Coming 24th July
Ten - Coming 31st July
Eleven - Coming 7th August
Twelve - Coming 14th August
Thirteen - Coming 21st August
Fourteen - Coming 29th August
Fifteen - Coming 4th September
Sixteen - Coming 11th September
Seventeen - Coming 18th September
Eighteen - Coming 25th September
Nineteen - Coming 2nd October
Twenty - Coming 9th October

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lifesphere Inc: Acqusition - Chapter Seven



Chapter Seven - Tag Team Style

Just asking about a reputable arena made Eli nauseous. He approached people who had meka, but surprisingly few knew which arenas were nearby. It was the punters who were able to give him directions.

"Alias Arena is just two skypath stations that way," one man said, making wild hand gestures that almost knocked a woman's hat off. "It's small. I hear the pay isn't anything to write home about, but there are a lot of kiddies there, you know? Kiddies, like you."

"I'm not a kid. I'm thirteen," Eli said through gritted teeth.

"Yeah, ‘xactly. Hey, your meka's a bit small, innit?"

"She's growing," Eli turned on his heel and headed for the skypath station. It wasn't the first recommendation for Alias Arena he'd heard. The other punters said Alias Arena didn't charge the fighters, but paid the winner. A rare opportunity Eli couldn't afford to pass up, even if the dividends weren't great.

Sitting in the skypath carriage, his stomach was tight with fear. Phyre had grown. She was more agile now and she'd learnt to use her claws and teeth hunting rats, but she was still a baby. She couldn't win a fight against a full-grown meka. She was going to get hurt again, and Eli didn't have any of the healing gel Aunt Cleo had shown him.

This was a bad, horrible, terrible, deeply flawed idea. He wanted to back to the tip and scavenge instead. Maybe he'd get lucky. Maybe he'd find something valuable. Or maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he'd just starve to death out there.

"Are you afraid?" he whispered to Phyre.

She gave a sleepy trill and burrowed deeper into the backpack. Her mind touched his. She felt safe if he was there. He had rescued her before, and she believed he always would. In her mind he was a towering presence, omnipotent and powerful.

Eli didn't know how to tell her he was sore, tired and scared. He didn't think it would help if he did.

Alias Arena was easy to find. The fa├žade had a painting of two meka fighting on it, and beside the door a cluster of teenagers were hanging out, smoking and bragging, with meka at their sides.

"Where do I sign up to fight?" Eli asked as he got close.
One of them jerked her thumb at the door. Eli nodded absently and slipped in past them. He felt Phyre's rising unease. The scent of so many other meka was unsettling. It reminded her of Gremlin.

Inside, the building was long, and the ceiling hung low. This arena wasn't sunken like Phunket Arena. It just had a low barrier to stop the sand from spreading on the floor. The chairs were plastic and scattered around the room, only a few of them occupied.

There was a woman at the desk against the far wall. Eli made his way toward her, weaving between punters and free ranging meka who were hunting under the chairs for abandoned hot-dogs.

Fighting arenas, Eli was starting to realize, didn't smell particularly good.

"Signing up? Here you go," the woman at the desk handed Eli a clipboard with a form on it.

"I..." Eli looked at it in quiet horror. He couldn't read this. There had never been anyone to teach him. "I can't...." he flushed with humiliation.

"Oh," the woman offered a pitying look that grated his nerves. "One of those, huh? Okay, what's your name?"

"Eli."

"Eli what, honey?"

"Just Eli."

She wrote something down. "Date of birth?"

"I'm thirteen."

"That only gives me a year, honey."

This was awful, he wished he could leave. "I don't know."

"We'll say January first then, shall we?"

He nodded, and she looked exasperated. "I suppose there isn't any point asking for an address. What's your meka called?"

"Phyre."

"Citizenship card? No? You're not making this easy, honey. Just take a seat and listen for your name over the P.A."

Gritting his teeth, Eli found a chair well back from the crowd, where he could watch. Phyre popped her head out of the backpack to watch too. Her vague apprehension mingled with Eli's own nerves.

There were so many meka here: one that looked like a blue dog with dozens of tails, a huge white fluffy creature with a squashed face and horns, a long bright-purple reptile who whipped around at an alarming speed, a two-headed rat-like meka, and a knotted serpent who spat sizzling goo at a man when he stepped on its tail.

Eli didn't like Phyre's chances against any of them. The only one close to her size was the two-headed rat, and it looked vicious.

"Alistair Groaning handling Sweep and Tully Sean handling Gizmo," a nasally voice announced over the P.A.

Sweep turned out to be the two-headed rat-like meka and Eli suspected his handler, Alistair, had come down from the Topside. He was one of the oldest boys there, and his clothes were too expensive for the Blueline. He had on official Lifesphere INC t-shirt, with the logo on the front: the embryo wrapped in its own tail over the words 'Life Without Boundaries'.

Tully was a girl, a few years younger than Eli, and Gizmo was the huge furry meka shambling forward like a walking rug, beady black eyes barely visible under the shaggy mop of her bangs. Alistair and Tully took their places on opposing sides of the ring. As hard as it was to imagine, they both looked happy to be there.

Tully didn't look concerned, even though Alistair was at least five years older than her, but Eli's gut was already twisting into knots and Phyre wasn't even in the fight. The meka took their positions, Sweep leaping over the low barrier like an Olympian and Gizmo shuffling over, one huge beefy leg at a time.

"And fight!" the P.A announced and there was a tinny ‘bong' over the speakers. Phyre shifted restlessly, slithering onto Eli's shoulder, intent on the battle.

Gizmo ambled forward, slow, but with no gap in her defenses Eli could see. Sweep did not pause, racing across the arena, kicking up sand like he had been shot from a cannon.

Gizmo swung her meaty fist as Sweep passed, and Eli's breath caught, but the smaller meka dodged her attack easily. He wheeled around and scrambled onto her back, using clumps of fur to clamber onto her head. Gizmo bellowed in surprise, flailing her hands, but he was too quick. When her arms dropped, he lunged at her eyes, his two mouths of rat-like teeth sinking into the thick fur of her eyebrows. Eli could barely bring himself to look, not wanting to see any more blue blood spilled.

In the arena Gizmo was panicking, tossing her head and there was an eruption of sand and dust. Tully cried: "Yield!"

Instantly, Sweep dropped to the ground, appearing out of the haze and scurrying to Alistair. The assembled crowd gave a little cheer.

But Eli breath was still caught in his throat, his hands white-knuckled as he gripped the plastic of a chair in front of him. Neither of the meka were hurt, but what if they had been? What if Gizmo had crushed Sweep, or Sweep had blinded Gizmo permanently?

There was no way he could do this. There was no way Phyre could do this.

"Eli handling Phyre and Chase Hunter handling Cricket."

Eli's gorge rose and he scanned the room. A brightly dressed Blueliner Eli's age was moving to take his position, the electric purple lizard-like meka slithering along at his side. Cricket wasn't so big. He didn't have deadly looking claws or teeth. He wasn't Gremlin.

Hesitantly, Eli rose to his feet, carrying Phyre to the arena floor.

He could feel her apprehension in his mind. She was afraid too.

"We have to do this," he whispered. "Otherwise I'll starve, or I'll get sick. We need the money. Just do your best, okay? No different to all the rats you've been hunting, just don't try and eat this one."

He placed her on the sandy floor and looked across the sand. Cricket was twitchy, looking eager to begin, but Chase was so sickeningly relaxed that Eli wanted to storm over and punch him in the face. Phyre shifted her weight on the sand, feeling it under her claws. A flurry of images danced into Eli's thoughts:  memories of Phyre stalking rats in the dump. She was more experienced now than when she faced Gremlin. She was still apprehensive, but at least this time she had some idea what to do. She was willing to try.

The P.A system crackled. "And fight!" the voice announced again, followed by the same metallic ‘bong' as before.

Phyre lurched forward, prepared to meet Cricket head on. She flared her wings revealing the vivid red underside, making herself look bigger and fiercer.

Cricket hesitated, and then launched himself toward her with lightning speed. Right before they connected, Cricket veered sharply to the left. Phyre was already in mid lunge and found only empty space. She stumbled, flailing to catch her balance. Eli held his breath.

Cricket struck her in the face with a whip-crack of his tail. The sound snapped and echoed off the arena walls, and Eli flinched. He took a step forward into the arena, ready to step in, but Phyre was already spinning around with a cat-like snarl of anger. She wasn't hurt. He could feel the sting of Cricket's slap through their mental connection, but there was no blue blood on the arena floor.

Phyre lunged again, this time landing on Cricket's tail. Her claws scrabbled over slick scales, but he whipped his tail away from her before she could get any purchase.

She stood her ground as he sprinted around the arena. It didn't take long for him to come at her again. For a disorientating moment, Eli could see him through Phyre's eyes, so much larger from her perspective. This time when he dodged around her, she was ready, and she slammed her weight against him, sending him spinning in the sand. Before he could recover, she pounced, her weight pressing down on his shoulders and back. She reared back her head to bite, and Eli gasped. With a sharp snap, Cricket's tail caught her across the eyes. She reeled back, blinded, and Cricket twisted under her, razor teeth snapping at her exposed jugular.

"No!" Eli lunged forward, scooping Phyre up and looming over the purple meka. Cricket stared up at Eli wide-eyed. He wasn't the only one. Around the arena people were looking at him like he was crazy.

"Hey!" Chase called. "You can't do that!"

A voice on the P.A crackled to life: "Can Eli please step out of the arena—"

Eli didn't hear the rest of the announcement. His heart was beating so hard his chest hurt. They were going to take Phyre away from him. He clutched her to his chest and ran, flying out onto the street, sneakers hitting the pavement hard with every stride, Phyre tucked possessively in his arms. He couldn't do this. He wouldn't do this. He would starve before he put her in another arena.

"Hey! Eli!"

The voice was familiar. Confused, he slowed, pivoting to scan the crowded street, chest heaving. It was her meka he spotted first. The huge white and black creature was making his way through the foot-traffic, clearing a path for the wheelchair. The colored edge around Dirge's black stripes was an electric blue today, but as Eli watched a ripple passed down his body, changing it to sunny yellow.

"What're you running from?" Squall called.

Eli scowled. What type of person yelled stuff like that in the street? He waited for her to catch up, ready to bolt again if he saw any signs of pursuit from the arena door.

"I wasn't running from anything," he lied, trying not to pant.

"You were, I saw you. Hey!" her eyes lit up, "You have your meka. Can I see her?"

Eli hesitated, then seeing as there was still no one following him, he plopped Phyre unceremoniously on Squall's lap. She stroked Phyre's spine and gently lifting her wings. Phyre blinked up at her, then gave a little trill.

"She's so cute!" Squall said.

Eli gave her a shy smile. "Her name is Phyre."

Squall met his gaze. "I guess it was you I heard about after all. The guy who fought the meka in Phunket Arena? You had a look about you, like maybe you'd do something dangerous."

Eli's eyebrow twitched. "Is that supposed to be a compliment?"

She grinned. "Maybe. It was pretty stupid though. The people who run those places aren't very nice. So why were you running out of Alias Arena?"

Eli chewed his lip, then confessed. "I'm afraid to let Phyre fight again. I don't want anyone to take her away from me."

"Oh." She studied him thoughtfully. "You can end a fight any time in a reputable arena. You just call ‘yield'. Meka don't have to get hurt."

"Yeah, but what if she does? By accident?"

She folded her arms. "I thought you wanted a fighting meka?"

Annoyed, Eli scooped Phyre up again and started walking toward the skypath station. Squall rolled along beside him. He didn't know what to make of her at all. She seemed so confident and effortlessly happy. But then, Dirge could have smashed through a wall. Wheelchair or not, she must have felt safe while he was around. Who needed luck when you had a furry tank by your side?

"Let's pair up and fight tag-team style," she said suddenly.

Eli blinked. "What?"

"We could start a team." She looked up at him, flashing him that easy smile.

"You need four handlers to make a meka team," Eli said. "It's teams of four, or solo matches."

"On the professional circuit," Squall corrected. "But in the amateur leagues there are lots of doubles team events. If you want to get serious, we can look for some other handlers and just compete in the doubles' events until we have a full team."

"Why would you ask me that? You hardly know me."

Her green eyes flashed in amusement. "Because I like you. Because your meka is going to grow up to be a great fighter and I want to get in early. Because you need someone to help you, or you're going to make a mess of things."

Eli scowled. "I don't need your help."

She rolled her eyes. "You would focus on that part. Eli, you jumped into an arena with a fighting meka and defended Phyre. That's the kind of handler I want on my team."

He stopped walking and looked down at her, uncertain. He was still afraid to let Phyre fight, but Squall was right, if he was ever going to do this, he did need help.

"Okay," he agreed slowly.

She grinned. "Good. Meet me tomorrow morning at the Aleratorium."

"The Aleratorium?" he hesitated, suddenly unsure again. "But they broadcast the fights there on the vids."

"Yeah, sometimes. Tomorrow they're holding amateur competitions, and no one wants to film that except enthusiastic parents. It starts early, so try and be there at dawn."

He grimaced. "Umm, Squall? The Aleratorium is on the Topside. I don't have a citizenship card."

She winked. "I know you'll find a way. Come on, it will be your first proper competition. No more weird little back alley arenas. You and me in a real match. With real prize money."

Real money. Enough to go back to the doctor and get more food maybe. Enough to keep them going for a few more weeks. But they had to win… and Phyre was still just a baby. Did they really have a chance?

"So?" Squall prompted.

He nodded. "Okay."

"Great. I'll see you there! Bring your a-game, okay? This is going to be the debut of the year."

She turned, and she and Dirge headed back the way they had come, leaving Eli standing in the middle of the street with a grin slowly curling up his lips. He was starting to suspect that Squall was just a tad insane.

# # #


If you enjoyed reading this, please link a friend. The number of page reads sustains me.

And remember, if someone asks what you've been doing this week, you'll sound much more interesting if you tell them what you've been reading, not what you've been doing!


Chapters:
One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight - Coming 17th July
Nine - Coming 24th July
Ten - Coming 31st July
Eleven - Coming 7th August
Twelve - Coming 14th August
Thirteen - Coming 21st August
Fourteen - Coming 29th August
Fifteen - Coming 4th September
Sixteen - Coming 11th September
Seventeen - Coming 18th September
Eighteen - Coming 25th September
Nineteen - Coming 2nd October
Twenty - Coming 9th October