by Tim Francovich
Thrust. Dodge. Parry. Shatterstar spun and dove onto the next platform, somersaulting to his feet. He whirled and looked back up at Windsong. His platform was moving down, away from hers.
Her face was scowling at him as he thought desperately. "Windsong, listen to me!" he called. "We are comrades, united against Mojo and Spiral! We..."
"You don't understand, do you?" she cried. "We have no choice!" She leaped away onto another platform, maneuvering around to get closer to Star's level.
A growl of frustration escaped his lips. There had to be a way to get through to her! And then what? They could not escape the arena in full view of all the cameras and spectators, could they?
Shatterstar jumped onto another platform as the last one started moving up again. Windsong was two circles away from him now. Star leaped away, increasing the gap between them momentarily. The control device over his left ear sent a spark of pain into his head, reminding him that he was here to fight, not run.
He spun back around to find Windsong jumping to his platform. Star swung a crossing hands stroke at her before she had a chance to get her balance. Windsong dropped and rolled under his stroke, coming to a stop close enough to swing at his feet. Star leaped up, thrusting both swords over and behind his head into the side of an ascending platform. Using the swords as leverage, he flipped himself onto the platform, distancing himself from Windsong again.
As he pulled his swords loose, Star noticed that Windsong had sheathed one of her blades. She was now moving quickly toward him, wielding only one sword and keeping her left hand free. Once again, he found himself admiring her graceful movements and almost effortless maneuvering.
Shatterstar's platform was moving down now. Windsong leaped onto another platform adjacent to Star's but slightly higher. Star shifted his stance, bracing for her attack. To his surprise, Windsong waited until his platform was even lower, then launched herself through the air over his head. He whirled to see her diving beyond his platform's edge. As she passed, she impaled her sword into the top edge of the platform. She spun around the sword and toward Shatterstar. The momentum from her jump and spin gave her a speed that surprised him. Both of Windsong's feet slammed into his chin, knocking him back and dazing him. Before he could react, she whipped a kick behind his knees, sweeping him off his feet and toppling him off the edge of the platform!
Dropping one of his swords, Shatterstar was able to grab the platform's edge with one hand. He sheathed his other sword and brought his other hand up to steady his grip. He shook his head and spit blood, his vision clearing quickly. Star looked up, directly into Windsong's eyes. She stood above him, staring down and breathing heavily, sweat running down her face from the exertion. She reached back to draw her second sword.
Star closed his eyes and concentrated. "aaaarrrrrrrrAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!" His growl escalated quickly into a shout as Windsong's abandoned sword began to glow. Star's mutant power peaked, sending a shockwave of energy through the sword that was still impaled in the platform. Windsong's eyes widened a split second before the platform exploded, sending her, Shatterstar and the platform's fragments plummeting toward the ground below.
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