The Ravens (Part 8)

“The Avalon Arena was interesting because there were two levels. One level had a glass ring running around the outside of the Arena, where people could stand and watch the battle. On the upper level, there was an area for all Ravens to go and watch the matches. Aurora and I went up to the top level, among the other Ravens. The Arena’s ‘battleground’ was a large circle with four supports in each cardinal direction. At the north and south ends of the circle, there were two large squares, large enough for an AC to fit through. We waited ten minutes, and then both of the squares opened up, and two ACs slid up from beneath the metallic circle. The two platforms filled in the holes, and the two ACs stepped off of the platforms. The second ranking AC was the first to be announced. He was at the south end.

“First to be announced, the Challenger! Ranked second in the Arena, Apocalypse, piloted by B-24715, a criminal who fights for his freedom!” The announcer yelled.

Apocalypse was a heavily armored four-legged AC, he carried a heavy machine gun, a lightweight laser blade, and on his back he carried a dual scatter missile launcher. When they announced the top-ranking AC, I felt my stomach knot up.

“Now! For the top-ranking AC, this pilot has managed to remain at the top for some time now. Nineball has been challenged time and time again, and each time Hustler One has managed to put down the challenger!”

H-1. The top-ranking AC? How could I have missed that? I leaned against the window to watch the fight. The panels on the east and west walls were blank, then the word ‘ready’ lit up, followed by ‘go’. Apocalypse was the first to move, and he sped backwards and upwards, opening fire with his machine gun. H-1 took some damage from the bullets, but he moved fast enough to where the damage was minimal. H-1 retaliated with a weapon that I had never seen before, a rapid fire pulse gun. Four shots flashed from the barrel each time the trigger was compressed. Apocalypse dodged all but two or three of these rounds and his right arm caught fire. Apocalypse put out the fire, and fired two rockets into the air. The pods burst in mid-air and released ten missiles into the air. Each one sped towards H-1 and he only managed to dodge four, being thrown to the ground by the other six. He was up in little or no time, and let a grenade fly from his left back weapon without getting down on one knee. The other AC was caught completely off-guard, and his left arm shattered from the explosion.

There was nothing left of the arm, the metal from the armor scattering everywhere. H-1 stood still, staring at the other AC. Apocalypse fell to the floor of the Arena, balancing himself again on all fours. There was a stalemate for a few moments, each AC sizing up the damage he had caused to the other. Apocalypse had lost his left arm, and his right arm and upper right core were burnt, but little other damage had been done. H-1 had virtually no damage at all. He had lost plating on his left leg, right arm and the left side of his head. A few bullet holes had permeated the frontal armor of his core. I heard a scream rise out of Apocalypse, and he sped forward. H-1 didn’t have enough time to get out of the way, and Apocalypse wrapped his arm around Nineball, almost in a headlock. Nineball tried to break free, but Apocalypse’s right arm held on. Nineball tried again and again to break free, and finally when it seemed as though he would escape, light ran through all of the cracks in Apocalypse’s armor. I turned to look away, and a few seconds later, a huge explosion shook the glass walls. When I slowly turned around, there was nothing but pieces and parts left of both of the ACs. Nineball was nothing but one arm and the core. The legs, or at least one of them, had been thrown about fifty feet from the core. The other arm, leg and the head were no where to be found. Apocalypse was in worse shape. There was nothing left but armor fragments scattered about the Arena floor, and the head lay in the upper decks. B-24715 had won his freedom, but at what price?

I stood there for a long time, staring at the mangled and mutilated pieces that remained of H01. I knew that wasn’t the end, I knew he would be back, even though I had seen his defeat, he would return. I turned away from the glass, and then headed for my car. I had planned on taking Aurora to dinner after the battle, for a proper welcome to the Nest, but I no longer had an appetite. She caught up with me just as I pushed through the door into the now pouring rain. I walked through the rain, my hair dripping wet. Drops of rain rolled off my leather jacket, falling into the puddles forming beneath my feet. By the time I reached the car, Aurora stood on the passenger side watching for me. I unlocked the doors and we both climbed in. I started the car, and pulled out of the decks traveling back to the Nest. There was two things that had happened tonight; one, I had become the third ranked Raven with the death of H-1 and Apocalypse. I also knew that when I attained top rank in the Arena, that Nineball would show himself again. The drive home was long and silent, the only thing that was making any noise was the hum of the engine. As we passed by Thorn Garden, a green glow hung over the horizon. We arrived back at the nest about eight. Aurora walked back to her room, but I went to one of the recreation areas, and found Dyne in one of the booths. I sat down across from him, my boots squeaking from all the water they had taken in.”


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