Chapter 12

Even Blacklock winced as he watched his pupil's onslaught on her opponent. Kore had her backing up, disarmed of her scimitars, felled to the ground and pinned, all within forty minutes. Kore's aggression was at a very high level to begin with and seeing Administrator 'block hinge' Bonetti in the balconies did not improve her savage frame of mind.

“She's going to hurt someone.” Blacklock muttered. “Shawn, pad-up, you're in there with her next. I'll sort out the overseers.” Shawn was as close in ability and skill as there was to Kore and Blacklock knew that Kore needed to vent her temper and her frustration. Shawn nodded and went to put on his padded armour. “Bloody psycho she is. Aggravate her.”

“Do what?” Shawn paused while buckling on his belt. “You jest? She'll peel my skin off!”

“You big fairy. She's had one match so she'll wear down. Spar with her and break her temper. She needs it out of her system and she's not going to kill one of her best friends, is she?”

“I admire your confidence in the situation.” Shawn said dryly and headed for the tunnel that lead to the arena. Kore's first victim was on her way back to the cells and Shawn passed her.

“She's bloody nuts!” The woman cradled her broken forearm with her other hand. “Why the hell did they shove me in there with the champion when she's in a pisser?”

“How insulted would you have been if she'd just toyed with you and strung you along, Tanya?” Shawn smiled at the woman and went to face Kore.

Creed watched Kore make very short work of a dark haired gladiator armed with two scimitars and had to fight with the urge to jump up and down cheering when she won. He recognised Shawn too and knew they were both Blacklock's fighters.

“Should be a good match.” He observed to Lumni, who Ben had suggested accompany Creed on duty at the arena.

“Same trainer.” Lumni was quite well clued up on the sport.

“Is that so?” Bonetti craned his skinny neck to look at Creed who didn't want to look at Bonetti at all. “Is that standard procedure? People have wagers on these matches, Creed. That reeks of set-ups and staged performances.”

“They're gladiators, Sir, not Thespians. They don't 'put on' fights.” Creed said as Kore almost knocked Shawn out with the hilt of her sword into his temple, as though to prove Creed's point. “Hell I don't think she's ever going to run out of steam today.” Shawn had resorted to brute strength to try and overpower Kore and this was always a last option in Blacklock's school. “Oo! Look out! Mind the test ... ouch!” Shawn creased over as the edge of Kore's shield rammed into his testicles from behind. “Shit you think they'd have learned by now.”

“Showboating.” Bonetti spat. “This arena is a joke.” He stood up and Creed pulled a face at Lumni, thinking the Administrator was taking his leave. “Stay where you are!” He shouted at the two gladiators and Creed cursed and closed his eyes. Not again! “Stable beasts should stick together. Stand your ground together. Overseers! Release four competitors to face these two beasts!” The crowd erupted into cheers and applause and Creed looked at the Administrator in contempt.

Shawn looked furiously at Bonetti that turned to look at Kore, who was grinning viciously.

“Pissants!” She yelled.

“Kore this is your third fight in a row and I pressed your stamina just then, go on the defensive.” Shawn adopted a stance.

“OK.” Kore nodded, the rushed full tilt at the group of four. Shawn swore and cursed Kore and all her ancestors, before doing likewise, through lack of choice. Despite his efforts to take most of the attacks in place of his partner, Shawn couldn't communicate with Kore at all as sheer blind fury drove her to mount assault after assault on her opponents. He yelled out in sheer exasperation as he watched Kore slice dangerously close to one man's neck veins. Blacklock was right, she was going to hurt someone. Seriously hurt someone.

“Stay down you fool.” He hissed at the injured man. “Believe me, now isn't the time to go for any heroics.” The man flopped back to the ground and surrendered his part in the match to Shawn's pin. Kore didn't seem to be interested in pins, in fact she looked terrifyingly close to a death match result. “Kore! For shit's sake!” Shawn actually drove his elbow into Kore's chest to slow her charge. “Ease up! You cause a fatality and this place will be in uproar, you lunatic bitch!”

“Get out of my way Shawn!” Kore growled and side-slashed at another one of their opponents.

“You're proving his damned point! You're acting like an animal!” Shawn took a crunching blow from a hammer into the small of his back and Kore whirled round to equalise the situation. “Leo will be in that jail forever Kore and it'll be all your fault!” Kore hesitated as Shawn's words hit her like a slap. This lapse in focus was all the hammer-wielder needed and he swung a blow at Shawn's head that would definitely have ended his life. Kore threw her sword and watched as it plunged deep into the other man's thigh, sending him staggering to the ground.

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