I felt a bead of sweat run from my temple to my chin as I gritted my teeth in the mouth guard. I shut out the pain in the right side of my torso, keeping my eyes fixed on the blue-eyed, flaxen-haired man shifting his weight from side to side several paces in front of me. He packed quite a punch.
The sun beat down on the two of us, on the dusty pavement just outside of an old subtropical pub, and a crowd watched us from a distance, giving us a wide berth. I didn’t blame them. This guy was built like a truck. Not an ounce of fat and solid muscle. If he connected hard enough he’d be hitting more than just me in the case that someone was standing too close.
God, I hated Earth.
Health nuts raved about Earth, about how it had “the right level of gravity” and “pure air, with the right combination of gasses to breathe” that we supposedly “evolved with.” At least now that all the toxins had been cleaned up.
I inhaled deeply through my nose, filling my lungs, still watching my Norse-god-like opponent. Yeah, I couldn’t tell the difference. Air is air. Long as it’s got enough oxygen, I’m ok.
He was getting impatient, inching closer, side-stepping back and forth. A gust of wind kicked up and tugged at his loose, yellow shirt. I let him come, remaining stationary to make him think I wasn’t taking him seriously.
He was powerful, but his technique was a bit limited. Still, there’s a lot to be said for raw power and I hadn’t given him enough credit for that in the first scuffle. I had dodged his punch but not by enough. He’d grazed my ribs. If I hadn’t dodged they probably would’ve been broken.
He wound up for a right hook and feinted, striking out with his left, but his fist hit air. I ducked and lunged forward, knocking him to the ground. A thrilled murmur of surprise rippled over the crowd of spectators.
Dammit, I knew I wasn’t a body builder, but I wasn’t a small fry either. They didn’t need to act that surprised.
I backed away to give him room to stand up again. He dusted off his shirt and his blue eyes burned with anger.
Shit. I wanted to piss him off, but… well, I hoped I knew what I was doing.
He lunged toward me, his left hand reaching for the collar of my jacket. Guess he wanted to make sure I couldn’t dodge this time. Well that was his bad judgment, and my lucky break. I grabbed his arm and turned myself, sliding underneath him and heaving him over. He landed on his back rather loudly. I didn’t think he would get up from that one. He was heavy, and he’d put a lot of momentum into that lunge.
I found a random observer standing not too far away and pointed at him, taking the guard out of my mouth. “Start counting.”
He nodded and faced the crowd, holding a hand in the air, counting off the seconds.
I searched the crowd for the three guys who had put me up to this, and discovered them, glaring at me. When the count reached ten, and the god-man hadn’t arisen, I walked over to them. “Alright, I held up my end. I bested your guy. Now it’s your turn.”
One of them stepped forward to stand in front of the other two. “Screw you, we’re not risking our heads to get you into that place.”
“A deal’s a deal. I just risked my head for that deal, and now you don’t want to risk yours all of a sudden? You’re risking it anyway. I don’t take shit like this lying down. I’m pretty connected for a cargo ship captain.”
The crowd was starting to dissipate. I think none of them wanted to be around to witness whatever was going down here. It might get ugly; even uglier than it had already become. Perhaps they were wise.
The second of the three men, a kid of probably eighteen or nineteen in blue jeans and a white tank top drew himself up to his full height. “You heard Chris. We’re not doing it.”
The third man, who appeared to be not much older, dressed in black, reached over to shake the second’s arm. “Shut it, Ned,” he hissed.
Chris held my gaze as he crossed his arms over his chest. “If you’re so connected, why don’t you have one of your buddies help you? Why do you need us?”
I smirked. “Because you three are the best there is when it comes to breaking and entering. And I want to break into the most secure thing in history.”
“Yeah no shit,” Ned said, waving his hands emphatically. “Nobody can break into that, not even if we wanted to. And even if we pulled it off, we’d be jailed for life, if not killed in the process.”
“I only need one code,” I said firmly. “Just one. Get me docking clearance and I can do everything I need to do from the control hub’s lobby. This isn’t even dangerous for you, I’m taking all the risk. And I’m paying you a nice chunk of change to boot. Come on, a deal’s a deal.”
The three of them eyed me resentfully for a time. Then Chris sighed, his shoulders dropping, and threw a glance at his friends before returning his attention to me. “Alright, you win.” He rubbed the back of his neck as his gaze drifted to the pavement. “We’ll do it.”
My entry for the word prompt “Pure” in Rachael Ritchey’s #blogbattle
Copyright 2016 Grace Petrelli