by Tim Francovich
Shatterstar jumped from platform to platform, adjusting his leaps as he saw the circles beginning to move. Across the arena, he could see Windsong doing the same, moving toward him. She also carried two swords, holding them with poise and skill as she jumped and ran.
Star thought briefly about attempting to reason to her before they fought, but he could see no way of doing so, unless... He maneuvered at an angle, attempting to stall their confrontation while he thought of a plan.
"Afraid to face me, Shatterstar?" It was the first time he had ever heard her voice. It created a strange stir within him. For some inexplicable reason, he immediately thought of Siryn. Windsong's voice was similar to hers but slightly higher pitched. But beyond that, his thoughts jumped back to an occasion when Siryn had been drinking heavily and had behaved rather strangely toward him. What was the Earth term? A come-on? At the time, he had been annoyed by it, as he had by Feral's earlier attempts. But Windsong's voice brought strange thoughts to his mind. It made him think that if *she* were to behave as Siryn had... he would not be as reluctant to respond...
"Za's vid!" Star muttered under his breath. He had to get his mind on the present! This was a fight to the death, not a romantic encounter!
Only one platform separated them now. He and Windsong, facing each other at the same height, waited as the center platform slowly rose from below.
"Windsong!" Star called. "Why do they wish us to kill each other? We are married! Our genetic material will be combined someday... but not if one of us is dead!"
"The monitors already have plenty of samples of our genetic material," Windsong replied haughtily. "Our deaths will make no difference in that regard. But whatever your thoughts might be, I intend to live!"
"If we work together..." Star began.
"Are you mad?" Windsong exclaimed. "Your time on Earth has softened you, warrior! Now I know this victory will be mine!" With that, she leaped onto the center platform, landing in a defensive posture, daring Shatterstar to attack her.
Feeling the battle-lust seize him, Shatterstar jumped down to join her, followed by the ubiquitous floating cameras. With a clash of swords the fight began.
In their first few parries, Star realized that he had a strength advantage, but Windsong appeared to be slightly faster. He also sensed that she was holding back somewhat. It puzzled him, but he did not have time to wonder about it, as their conflict grew ever more intense. Star was confident that he could beat her, based on what he now knew... but did he want to?
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