24 January 2012


The Grounding

“Who will be next to go up against the Manipulator?” The Warden’s voice rang through the stadium, echoing from the rafters. The Manipulator had beaten twenty-three competitors using his particular skill – shaping emotions. He was the current poster child of The Grounding, the undefeated champion.
The Grounding was many things, a night club, a black market . . . but mostly it was a place for elect to fight using all their skills. The Grounding was open to all, but the most common fighters were seers and manipulators. Their particular skills were honed by this type of illegal fighting.
Telepaths were in demand. The Grounding could make money on a willing Telepath fighter, charging outrageous admission fees to the general populace. They made the best fighters. A strong telepath could make an opponent stand still for a beating.
“What, no takers?” the last adversary of the Manipulator lay, groaning on the ground, a warning to all of what was to come should they be foolish enough to accept the challenge lurking in the Manipulator’s eyes.
“No one brave enough to take on this monster of mayhem?” The Warden’s voice was scornful, as he eyed the crowd, hoping to incite a taker.
“I will,” the girl who had spoken was known only by reputation. She was the baby sister of Marc – the self-proclaimed King of telepathy – and not many would dally with her for fear of incurring his wrath. But at The Grounding anyone could challenge, regardless of position. The warden smiled nastily, “Ok little lady. Manipulator, here’s your competition,” he took her by the hand, drawing her roughly into the ring. The crowd went wild.
The tall man looked at the slight girl with a frown on his face. It was not his habit to fight ladies, in fact he looked down upon it . . . but he could not refuse her at The Grounding.
“Alright then,” he said his voice soft and smooth. The girl jumped a little at the sound of his voice, the British accent surprising her. She frowned at the clear calmness of his gaze – he thought he would win easily. Like a lazy lion he stretched while walking to the left corner of the mat.
“Ladies and gents,” called the Warden, “get ready for the fight of the night! Miss Emma Grisham has challenged the Manipulator.” He covered the microphone with his hand, speaking to Emma quietly, “And might I inquire, Emma what is your gift –”
“No,” interrupted the Manipulator, his eyes cutting quickly to the Warden, before returning to the girl, “this is hardly a fair fight as it is, let the lady’s talent remain a secret.”
The Warden nodded his agreement, turning back to the crowd. “Well gents, this boy’s got class. He has let the lady’s keep her talent a secret! Fine gentleman that, eh?”
The crowd cheered in light of his sporting chivalry and Emma smiled to herself. This was a fight she planned on winning, and the secret of her talent was just an added bonus.
“Assume position,” shouted the Warden.
Emma retreated to the right corner of the sparring ring and awaited the sound of the horn.

Nathan tensed his temple and began to work his magic. The base instincts of human emotion were the easiest to forge – greed, lust, envy; – were all easy to arouse. The human mind always leans towards its dark side.
On the opposite corner of the mat Emma smiled again her sweet girlish smile; this boy had no idea what he was getting into. As the sister and daughter of telepaths she had learned at the age of six to guard her mind from even the strongest broaches, and though this was a different kind of attack – a sneaking entrance instead of a full on assault – it would be just as easy to shield herself.
The crowd watched breathless as the Manipulator lowered his head and worked his mind games. In The Grounding, most fights were fought for control of the mind. Telepaths, manipulators, enchantresses . . . occasionally a shapeshifter and a techaton would get into it – that was interesting – but for the most part people came to watch the drama. Two people standing silently, fighting for control . . . that was the real draw. They were experiencing quite a show now. The Manipulator was always one of the most dramatic in his actions. His gaze was intense, catching his subject, and he made them do the most bizarre things. His power – emotional control – lent itself to stunning feats of intrigue for the audience. He was a favorite with the crowd.
Now the people soaked up his charisma like a heady wine, watching him with hungry gazes to see what he would do to his slip of a girl who dared to challenge him. Only a few people were actually watching Emma– a relative unknown to the shadow world – and they were not taking note of the fact that she looked far from cowed.
The crowd waited with bated breath. The battle had been raging for several minutes, though no outward sign had been made. Finally something moved, it started as a motion seen from the corner of one person’s eye, and grew stronger as the whole crowd turned to stare at the girl – she was moving.

The girl, Emma, he reminded himself, approached him slowly, a glazed look in her eyes, the type of look all his subjects wore under his spell. Her walk was slow and seductive the very picture of the emotion he had aroused in her. She threw her arms around his neck in a passionate embrace and kissed him.
He kissed her back, marveling at the sweetness of the moment. He was not usually so emotionally compromised himself, but her innocence intrigued him. He deepened the kiss, unaware of the chaos that was about to occur.
Emma kissed Nathan with fiery passion – lust. Such a base emotion; she would never forgive this man for trying to arouse that in her. She would teach him a lesson not soon forgotten.
The Manipulator was oblivious to all else, the taste of victory sweet. He tightened his grip on the girl, she was thought by all to be a strong defender against mental attacks, obviously a misconception. He would have to talk with Marc. The Company was no place for a beautiful girl who couldn’t guard her mind. His hand twined in her hair as he maintained his grip on her mind.
The entire arena was holding its breath when a click resounded through the arena.
Nathan opened his eyes to see her standing in front of him, eyes perfectly sober – angry even – a colt 44 caliber suspended in midair pointed directly at his head.
“Archer,” he said, in awe.
“Archress actually,” she said, regarding him coldly. Her turquoise eyes sparkled and her face was flushed with victory, still she kept the gun suspended in mid-air and trained on his head, the anger had yet to leave her face, “surrender now.”

1 comment:

Enchanted Etymologist said...

What do y'all think? Corny or captivating?