Sweat dripped down Ahbi’s caramel-colored back. Her white, short chiton was nearly transparent with sweat as she grappled with a man in leather armor who stood a whole head taller than her own impressive height of six feet. Her hands were locked with his, and with no-kicking rules in place, neither seemed able to disconnect safely.
Flashing cameras distracted her and her opponent for a moment as the viewers held their smart phones aloft, trying to zoom in on the best possible shot of the fight.
Ahbi took a risk. It wasn’t green by the rules, but it wasn’t forbidden, either. She ducked and lunged between his legs, then yanked his arms behind him, flipping the heavy man down her sturdy back. He released her in shock, and she released him, then dropped an elbow down just under his ribs. He coughed, and an orange-and-black clad referee wearing a holographic clown’s mask ran over.
“Yield. I yield.” he gasped breathlessly. The referee raised Ahbi’s hand as the woman panted. She sported new bruises, and sand clung to her sweaty body with diligence. The reek of their two bodies excited the strong woman, and she laughed heartily as the man held her arm aloft.
She had only an hour to prepare for her next match, and much of it was used with excited pleasure. She had not slept at all the previous night, and her movements were sluggish.
The time came for her next fight. This one was against a man with a pike. She walked into the arena, her body still dirty from the last fight. Her short, dark-brown hair was wild as she grinned. The man was instructed to kill her, she knew. She was instructed to let him live. Her chest heaved, and her opponent glanced at her with concern. She recalled him from other fights. He likely hadn’t been told who he was to kill for all to see. She smiled at him, then walked to him with a hand extended before the referee could arrive. “Don’t worry, I’m prepared.” she reminded. “I know what you’re asked to do.”
“I don’t want to.”
“You don’t have my permission to go easy on me. I can beat you even with that weapon you’ve got.” She shrugged, a movement that always captivated the man in the past.
“I still don’t want to.”
“Too bad.” She gripped his cheeks and kissed him, then walked calmly on bare feet to her position. “If you go easy on me, I’ll kill you out of spite.” She winked.
Her opponent scowled, but assumed a ready stance.
The ref arrived, and both of their expressions lost their warmth. She was fighting to live long enough to earn herself a better end than on his pike, and he was fighting for a sadistic sponsor, and likely his life.
A gun’s blast rocked the stadium, and he charged. She stood her ground. At the last moment, just as she felt the tip of his pike against her tit-flesh, she ducked and jumped from its path. She had a slice from breast to shoulder, but remained alive. She scolded herself for letting him get that close.
The man slid to a stop, his sandals sliding on the sand. He turned to look at her, then ran to her. His pace was not a charge as his previous run was. He retained control over his direction, but at the cost of speed. The woman toyed with him.
She waited until it was too late for him to turn, then rolled away. His sandals sounded his approach, and she rolled toward him. Her heels drove into his belly as she miscalculated, and his pike barely missed slicing her ear off. The crowd’s roar became deafening.
Ahbi rose and looked down at the already rising man, then noticed he held a dagger in his hand. Her eyes widened, and she dropped onto him with her full weight on the arm that held the dagger. It scraped her flesh, and she grabbed him by his hair. Her arm blocked him from doing the same. He rabbit-kicked her, while she suffocated him between her breasts. Both wore faces of sweaty determination.
The pikeman became still, and she rose. His dagger flew true, and landed in her already-injured shoulder.
Her laugh echoed through the stadium as she looked from him to the lodged dagger. She kept it in place as she lunged at the man, eyes filled with glee. The two rolled around the field, each one breathing heavily in a twisted mimicry of passion.
Her hands finally caught both of his, and she flipped him onto his back. Ahbi rose to her feet, bent over to grip his hands. She drove her knee into his chest, and his breath whooshed from his mouth. The look of shock on his face was like a silent “Oh,” and his female opponent nearly collapsed into laughter as the ref raised her uninjured arm.
She knew she’d die in her next match. She could barely feel her injured hand.
The walk back to the holding medbay was blurry, and she collapsed onto a cot.
Her world was black for what felt like a split second, and someone was shaking her. “Wake up, Ahbi!” The voice was tantalizingly familiar. “Wake up.” A sob broke his voice. It wasn’t her former opponent.
Arms thicker than hers lifted her up, and she felt the sensation of someone carrying her. “No. I need to fight.”
“Someone bought up your sponsorship.” came that same familiar, sad voice. “Last second. Said you’re to be replaced with a body double for the next fight.”
“But…” Her voice trailed off as someone pressed down on her injury. Pain like a shot laser gun exploded inside her mind, and she fainted.
The woman woke in an inter-world transport. “Ugh. I ache.” she groaned. “The fuck’s goin’ on?”
A familiar rat-like face beamed down at her. “Ello, pretty!” he chirped. “Someone bought up your sponsorship for a fraction of the normal price!” He laughed. “No hard feelings, right?”
Ahbi scowled. “I thought you said I was a bad investment.”
“Absolutely terrible.” He brushed hair from her face. “Especially with that gambling problem. Tut tut. Turns out, you’ve been fired by the board.” He tilted his head. “Gambling against yourself is risky, when you’ve not even got a next-of-kin.” He tapped her nose with a thin finger.
“Bah.” She grunted. “So, I’m a slave now, am I?” Disgust filled her voice.
“No, because I full-on bought you. You were cheap, especially with that broken-up mug of yours.” He laughed. “You’re a free woman, employed by me to train my gladiators.” His thin lips curled into a self-satisfied grin. “Your first student is your sister-by-blood.”
“Just shoot me now!” she groaned. “Fuck you hard with a lightsaber.”