Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)
TITLE: Debriefing document, Body of Christ in the underground, Chicago Metroplex, October 6th, 2036. Begin file . . .
By Frank Creed
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I poked my head inside the hallway’s first open doorway and activated my mindware's re-formed sensory perceptions. Nothing. Even the electromagnetic spectrum was empty.
Click. A doorknob’s mechanism popped softly behind me.
I peeked around my door-frame.
A head emerged one-door-down—I fired a snapshot from my com-shades. I ducked back, inspecting the image on my glasses’ heads-up display. It was definitely her.
Footfalls sounded. I ducked behind the door, hooked my sunglasses on my shirt-collar, and peeked through the crack.
She wore a long-sleeved grey thermal-underwear shirt and urban-camo fatigue-pants. An Armalite M6-A1 assault-rifle barrel preceded her into my dark doorway.
I caught her scent as she passed: gun-oil, military-grade wool, and fear. Not fear of a fight—her joints rolled with combat confidence—coiled energy on a mercury switch. This Chica was pure lethal waitin’-to-happen. But we all know that's not what the game’s about. I was here to fight a spiritual battle. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood . . . (EPH. 6:12 NIV).”
I slammed the door and slid along the black room's wall. Mindware switched my re-formed eyes to starlight-intensifying and thermographic modes. She spun and fired a three-round burst through the door.
Light leaked in. The better to see you with, my dear.
From her head's angle, I knew she couldn't see. Her primary sense had switched to hearing.
I closed on her in carpeted silence.
Not silent enough—she swung her chin right at me, pupils fully dilated, blind—her assault-rifle’s barrel followed.
In a single smooth motion I snatched the Armalite from her trigger-finger's pressure, tossed it across the room, and retreated from her imminent strike.
It never came.
Heartbreaker took two steps back, froze in her muscle-memory’s fighting stance, knees bent, hands like blades, chin oscillating her collarbones, scanning for sound-waves while protecting her throat.
Why had she broken-in?
I stalked around behind her before striking. I pinned her arms to her sides and squeezed just under her bottom ribs. Air rushed from her lungs. I used only enough of my re-formed strength to suggest it’s-useless-to-struggle. She knew I could have crushed her ribcage.
After a few heartbeats I felt like a thug. I cautiously eased my squeeze and let her breathe. Still she just stood there. As though this was what she wanted. No, needed.
I relaxed my arms to a mere hug.
She didn’t resist. We were now communicating with body language and her message of this-is-what-I’d-hoped-for came sunlight-through-greenhouse-glass clear.
I eased until my arms merely hung loose around her. I'd left myself vulnerable. She could leg-sweep my knees—I'd only immobilized her upper body—I knew she knew how.
As I withdrew, my hand brushed her calloused palm. On an instinct of its own, it moved to take hers. She reached back, and our fingers interlaced. Our lost-other-hands groped until they met.
Her fear-scent doubled. There was nothing sexual about this. We stood that way for too long, her chest heaving in far-more-air than I'd squished out. She slumped back, tilted back and cocked her head in the dark, questioning me with a look. Her eyes had adjusted.
That's when things went south.
Her knees collapsed, her hips became a lever and she flipped me. My back slammed on thinly carpeted concrete. As I fell she pushed off the floor in an acrobat handstand. Her dangerously-muscled frame twisted gravity like a falling cat. She landed straddling me, every muscle alpha-dog tense, hot breath tickling my ear. "I know who you are!"
"Heartbreaker . . ."
She drew back. "I hate that name!” she hissed.
"Oh-kay!" I overpowered her wrists.
"My name is Lethe.”
I relaxed. She crossed my arms over my chest like a mummy, and then laid over them.
Her features twisted tearfully; droplets traced down her face.
She finally wilted in dead-wait.
Mindware automatically sorted thirty ways to take-her-down. I pushed them all aside.
“My retirement has been scheduled . . . please, I have nowhere else to turn.” She sat limply up, her face contorting emotions across her face, locking fear, guilt, and hatred back into her soul's dungeon. "It's a matter of life-or-death."
“Lethe, you have no idea.”
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