Fight to the Finish

This is the first of little bits of backstory for my character for a tabletop game I’m in. James Garen is a mercenary who used to be a soldier. This is the story of the day his superpowers first emerged.

* * *

The grin on Lane’s face was unbearable as  he and James stepped into the wide circle they had drawn in the dirt.  Lane had won the last time they had fought and they both knew it.  It had been driving James crazy that his younger brother had been holding that win over his head for days.   James was going to make that end today.  Even if their father wasn’t there to watch, James knew he kept track of their record.  He would show their father and Lane who was the best.  His gaze shifted from his brother’s face to the house behing him and then to Ei cleaning her rifle up in the treehouse they had built half a dozen summers ago.

“Are we going to do this or are you scared that I’ll beat you again?” Lane’s words brought James’ back to the moment.

James nodded and put up his fists. “You could back down too but I know you won’t.  You’ll lose.” Lane lunged first, his fist launched right where James’ head was.  James had been ready for him and countered with a body blow that drove Lane back a step or two.  Lane gave him an ugly look, he countered with a smile.  They closed again and barely blocked his brother’s right hook and countered with his best left jab.  Lane dodged by backing up again, backpedalling easily.

Again and again they closed on each other, their exchanges full of counters and dodges.  Neither of them were landing any lasting damage, no clean shots.  They knew each other two well.  They had fought each other two many times.  James knew he was probably going to have to take a hit in order to get an opening for a finishing blow.  Either that or tire his brother out until he could just pound him into submission.  Neither plan seemed particularly easy but those were the strategies James saw.  Whatever it took, James had to win.

A feeling James had never felt ran through his body.  He suddenly felt powerful so powerful.  He felt invincible like nothing could ever stop him.  Lane was moving so slowly that it was way too easy to dodge his attacks.  James found himself grinning and then laughing as he reveled in the easy way he dodged his brother.  He even had time to notice the confusion on Lane’s face.

Finally, James grabbed his brother’s incoming fist and pulled, feeling his brother stumble forward. He held onto his brother’s wrist and kicked his brother across the back sending him face first into the dirt.  He saw his way to a submission victory but why did it feel like all of this was taking so long? He planted his foot on his brother’s shoulder and pulled his wrist back.   He just wanted to hyper extend his brother’s shoulder a little, make him tap out.   He didn’t hear the sick sounds of Lane’s shoulder dislocating, followed by his shoulder blade breaking and then his arm.  He didn’t hear Lane’s howls of pain and he certainly didn’t hear Ei begging him to stop.

Suddenly there was the echo of a shot he hadn’t remembered hearing.  He groaned as he felt the pain spread through his shoulder and looked to see the bullet hole.  He looked up at Ei, the barrel of her rifle still smoking.  Her eyes were so wide and she had the rifle ready to fire again.  He looked down at Lane, writhing in pain in the dirt, cradling his damaged right arm. James couldn’t quite think straight. What had just happened?  He stumbled back from Lane, his heart pounding in his chest.  They’d never hurt each other like this before and Ei had actually shot him.

James ran, he just started running.  He ran through the wilderness until he couldn’t run anymore.  He rested against a tree and finally felt rational thought return.  He had to go back home soon.  He couldn’t just live out here in the forest.  He had no idea how he was going to make things right again with Lane or Ei.  What would his mother think?  Worse, what would his father think?  He knew one thing for sure .  Nothing was ever going to be the same.


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