Respawn, Pt. 8

When god speaks, the faithful obey. The artificial intelligence that controlled the environment of the arena responded to the crowd’s chant instantly. The ground underfoot shook as machines buried underneath the arena’s floor shifted into position and activated. A pack of a dozen mantids poured out of a hidden trapdoor behind . The creatures hissed and chittered, snapped at each other with their pincers, their iridescent carapaces taking on an indigo shade of confusion and caution. They were social creatures, attacking threats to the pack as one. Underneath the floor of the arena, they would have been starved and taunted in preparation for the fight. They wouldn’t prey on humans normally, but in their agitated state, they’d pounce upon anything that came too close to them.

“And they’re poisonous,” Anausa thought. “One bites you, and you start to tire. A whole pack bites you, and your heart will stop.

“If they don’t tear you to shreds first.”

Brick gave a bow and a wave to the crowd, then spun on his heel and charged towards Anausa. Brick would be able to alter his course to intercept him if Anausa tried to run. With the mantids at his back, Anausa had no choice but to stand and fight.

The blows rained down mercilessly upon them. He dodged what he could, but Brick advanced with every swing of his fists, and the sheer force and weight behind his punches was leaving Anausa a little more tired with every attack he was forced to block. His hands came up slower, his feet grew more uncertain, and the hissing of the mantids grew louder with every passing seconds.

“I’m going to die,” Anausa thought. “I’m actually going to die. I can’t fight him hand-to-hand. I need a weapon. I need–

“The daggers.” They were still lodged in Brick’s back. The soldier’s instinct kicked in and Anausa dropped his guard. He let Brick him, but instead of collapsing to the ground or standing and taking the full force of the blow, he let the giant’s momentum move him. He shifted around behind him, watching with grim satisfaction as a look of surprise overtook Brick’s face and the brute stumbled, suddenly off-balance. Brick’s shoulder slipped past Anausa’s vision, and then the gleaming metal of a dagger. He reached up, twisted, and pulled it free. Brick roared in pain, but the noise was drowned out by the snarl of the mantids, their burning hunger stoked as the scent of fresh blood filled the air.

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