by Tim Francovich
Every muscle in his body ached, blood oozed from a multitude of cuts and scrapes, both of his hearts were beating at a feverish rate, his head still throbbed with searing pain and a fog seemed to be partially obscuring his vision. Despite all of this, Shatterstar was happy.
It was all he had ever wanted: a fight to the finish - and more... Windsong, his wife, fighting at his side... Cannonball, Sam Guthrie, a friend he had come to know and depend on, a leader he had come to appreciate and respect, also fighting for him... Shatterstar lifted his head higher and held his sword with a slightly stronger grip. This was where he belonged.
"Stay close, everyone!" Sam shouted. "Ah'll protect us with mah blast field as long as Ah can!"
"You can't hold them off forever, Sam," the Rebel pointed out, withdrawing a trio of throwing knives from an inner pocket. "It's all right. We're ready to fight."
"And die," Lepton observed morosely.
The dog soldiers abruptly halted their advance as an orb of sparkling energy appeared between them and the tiny band of defenders. "Spiral!" Star spat.
Spiral materialized in the midst of her orb. "I'm sorry, everyone," she announced. "But our lord and blob Mojo has decreed that there is far too much character development taking place here. The masses crave mindless action!"
"Emphasis on 'mindless,'" Sam observed drily.
"I must admit that I'm surprised to see you still alive, Cannonball," Spiral said with a grin. "I suppose I'll just have to kill you again."
"And how many times will you kill me, Spiral?" asked the Rebel, stepping forward and letting his hood fall back.
"YOU!" Spiral seemed extremely taken aback. Shatterstar was still uncertain of the old man's identity, but he certainly enjoyed seeing Spiral surprised for once.
"I have failed to stop you before, Spiral," the old man said calmly. "But I will keep fighting until my people are free. Take that message to Mojo V."
"I'll deliver it with your head," Spiral snarled. "Kill them!" she cried to the surrounding soldiers.
Before the soldiers could attack, a second portal appeared in mid-air near the defenders. First to leap out of the portal was Cable, followed by Rictor, Boomer, Warpath and Siryn.
"'Bout time ya got here!" Sam exclaimed. "Not that I'm complainin'..."
Major Domo's voice drifted out of the portal. "This portal location is too difficult to maintain," he announced. "Please meet me outside the arena." The portal immediately began to fade.
"Stab his eyes!" Cable growled. "Okay, people, look alive! Boomer, Siryn - Spiral is yours! Ranged attacks only! Everyone else focus on these dog soldiers! Sam, Star - you two okay?"
"We will survive," Shatterstar answered, glancing at Windsong at his side.
As the battle erupted, Rictor stepped up next to him and raised an eyebrow. "You sure, amigo?" he asked.
"I have survived the severest test of my life thus far," Star replied, again looking at Windsong. "This fight is nothing."
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