It’s not the glow of the flames bouncing off the walls behind Rum in combination with the smoke that gives the scarred axe-wielder pause. Nor is the fact the young Ohaida scaled the burning steps without suffering any burns. It’s purely the look in Rum’s cedar-colored eyes, the desire to kill blazing in his steely gaze. The scarred man grimaces as he advances, unnerved by Rum’s stolid stance. Not many adults can stare at him with such resolve, and he’s seen his share in their final moments. This child before him has something inside he knows few ever realize before it’s too late. He can see it all too clearly as Rum raises his weapon, prepared to engage in combat. The ability to turn off any emotion that doesn’t guarantee survival in the heat of the moment.
Too bad he didn’t use that to leave this building. He would’ve lived. Still, he doesn’t scare easy. Wonder if he’s any good with that weapon. Better to end him and–
The axe-wielder is forced to take a defensive stance when Rum charges him mid-step. He feels pressured from Rum’s initial attacks, but after correcting his footing he fends off the slashes expertly. The axe-wielder switches to offense when he notices Rum too engrossed in the maneuvering of his buster sword.
Too bad, kid. You would’ve been incredible.
The scarred man knocks away Rum’s blade with one powerful lateral swing, lodging the buster sword firmly in the wall. With the young warrior off balance, the scarred man opens another capsule on his belt. He slaps the explosive square onto Rum’s chest, then knees his chin, watching him slam into the wall just beyond his weapon. He stands still a moment, the rain pouring in from outside pelting his shoulders and back, and watches Rum rise to his feet. He shuts his eyes for a brief instant when Rum grabs at the adhesive gel with his bare hands.
“What the hell?” Rum says, trying to disentangle his hand from the gel. “Get this crap off me! Hey!”
“I wouldn’t if I were you. The closer you come to me, the more danger you put your peers in. I suggest you run as far as you can from here, or you might just blow this entire place to smithereens,” the scarred man replies when Rum advances toward him, his voice softer than his appearance implies would be.
The axe once again scrapes as he drags it through the floor in his wake, making a beeline to the spar chamber. He hears Rum’s pleas and cries, but the sounds of begging have never stopped him. Not once has the sound evoked pity or hesitation. What he believed he saw in Rum was nothing more than childish bluster, all of which went away the moment his death was guaranteed. The scarred man looks into the spar chamber, beyond Rum’s fallen classmates, where his target awaits. The once masked warrior takes another step, but when his ears pick up rampant chirping, a shiver runs down his spine.
He whirls and his eyes reflect the wildly sparking electricity surging from Rum’s right hand. Rum hollers as he applies more and more energy into his hand as the counter ticks away precious seconds. He grips the device tighter as he tugs it away from his body, the adhesive gel stretching beyond his navy shirt’s limits until a circular hole is torn into the fabric. Rum raises the explosive above his head, now grasping it with both hands.
The wild dance of the cobalt electricity zaps the floor, walls, and ceiling, leaving red-hot dots and zigzag lines. The small puddles from the rain are evaporated the second the lightning strikes them. The adhesive gel hardens under the assault of the current and cracks as Rum squeezes it tight as a pair of pliers. The device shatters completely in his fists, sparks clinging to the powder that spills from a glass tube behind the countdown screen.
Even as the cobalt light abandons his lethal glare, Rum’s fury is no less palpable. In the eyes of the axe-wielder, wide from astonishment, an extra person appears, superimposed over Rum to scale. The phantom looming over Rum at seven feet tall, both with the same chocolate skin. The phantom is dressed in an outfit with the same metallic sheen as the axe-wielder, though the phantom’s scarred hands lack gloves. The phantom’s eyes shine red and the axe-wielder flinches.
To be able to diffuse the bomb…and the lightning. It can’t be…but then there are his eyes. Both of them–
Rum slides up to the axe-wielder’s right and grabs onto the shaft of the axe, using his left to connect to his buster sword.
“You attacked the wrong class, asshole!” Rum shouts. He continues to holler as he tries to again summon his lightning.
The axe-wielder is seized by terror, every one of his muscles locking up, aware of what intense electrocution can do to them. His fear abates when the gathering sparks fizzle out. He cuts into Rum’s deflated confidence by yanking his axe back, slicing across Rum’s biceps in the process. He raises and brings his axe back down again, intending to cut Rum in half, severing his still unwavering glare.
The axe is stopped by a large steel shield in the shape of two trapezoids glued together. The man behind the shield forces the scarred man to retreat a few steps with a powerful shove.
“I thought I told you to stay put, Sparks,” Jojen barks as he steps around in front Rum.
“Now, now, Jojen,” floats a flowery voice laced with venom, “he bought us some valuable time.”
Tameri steps around in front of Rum as well. Her clothing is cut to ribbons, each tear flanking lacerations of varying sizes, a few of which are haphazardly bandaged, blood staining them deeply. The harness on her waist still carries her sheathe, but her spadroon is pointed toward the axe-wielder, the blade emitting a cerulean aura.
“I told you once before I’d give you one more chance to guess my power. After this, I’d be ashamed if you didn’t guess it correctly.”