In Which Mackenzie Goes Down Without Fighting

Pala cupped a hand around her throat and made a muted coughing noise. Knowing that the injury was illusory only made me feel slightly better about inflicting it… I would have had a harder time steeling myself up to inflict it if I had known that it wouldn’t have ended the fight. I’d been counting on the idea that it would cancel itself out as soon as it was registered.

I didn’t think she’d take it personally, in the long run. Pala had a warrior ethos that included respect for her opponents… she prayed for them before battles, even mock ones. She fought in the arena against gladiators of all levels of skill and morality. I had to imagine she knew what kind of tactics her coach encouraged, even if she didn’t often need to resort to them herself.

I was pretty sure she’d forgive me when the battle was over.

I also knew that it wasn’t over yet, and it looked like forgiveness was the last thing on her mind for the time being.

The proper time to press the advantage is right when you get it… I’d done a good job of seizing the moment to put Pala down, but that moment was passed and she was back on her feet and her short flight through the air hadn’t put nearly enough distance between us for me to be staring slack-jawed at her. The only advantage I had was that I was way too close for her to stab me or even swing for the hills

That didn’t mean she was out of options, though. She thrust the butt end of her spear between my legs and brought it up hard… maybe I was lucky to not have Steff’s bonus material, but in that moment I sure as hell didn’t feel lucky. The blow took me off my feet, and then kept going. Using her spear like the arm of a catapult, Pala pitched me over her shoulder. I had a glancing contact with the ceiling and then flew into the wall once more with feeling… mostly the feeling of wall-cracking impact and associated bodily pains.

Well, I had told her I was invulnerable to harm… I couldn’t imagine Callahan would object to her smacking me around with actual physical force. She couldn’t trigger a win for the fight, but if she managed to batter me senseless she’d win easily enough anyway.

Luckily for me, I wasn’t senseless yet. I hadn’t even begun to fall when I felt the sensation of an oncoming object… the spear, piercing the air with all the speed a giant’s strength could impart to it. Even if my feet had been on the ground there wouldn’t have been time to get out of the way, so instead I hardened the air around it… it was as close to reflexive as I could get with elemental manipulation without frying someone. The air-shield was too half-assed to do more than slow the projectile and skew it a bit.

It still smacked into me, but it was tumbling rather than flying point-first. I had just managed to get my feet mostly underneath me before they made contact with the floor… mostly. I ended up taking a knee anyway, but I chose to believe that looked deliberate and badass… if it didn’t, then I think the moment I reached out and grabbed the falling spear before it could go bouncing away.

I’d had to practice dual-wielding in the later half of Mixed Melee, and even using an appropriately-sized weapon and sidearm I hadn’t been great at it… trying to wield a long spear and a full-sized quarterstaff seemed like a really stupid idea. So I shrank the staff back to baton size, and after recalling the spell to mind I cut the spear about in half, then switched hands and charged.

My stride was off a little bit because the room was tilting at an unusual angle, but I caught Pala flat-flooted and gouged a line into her side as I stumbled past. Remembering her turning problem, I stopped myself from overshooting her by too much, whipped around, and smacked my impact club against the back of her knee. The room was evidently inspired by the speed of my spin and joined in the fun.

It isn’t real, I told myself. You of all people can’t get a concussion from a wall. You’re just dizzy from all the tumbling through the air, and the sudden stop.

I closed my eyes. Whatever years of high-powered adventure fiction had taught me, this did not sharpen my mystic senses to such an unnaturally high degree that I could fight even better… but it stopped the spinning sensation, and my elemental connection did warn me when a Pala’s arm-shaped object came flying around at my head.

I did not do a backwards somersault out of the way, though my feet almost assisted me into one. I took another careful step back and strengthened my earth-focus, located the plane of the floor beneath me and my feet on it. I felt more centered, and a lot more steady… then opened my eyes and saw that the room had once again followed my lead. No more tilt-a-whirl.

I was still on unfamiliar ground when fighting with two weapons, but Pala had no weapons. She could probably cancel the spear I was holding out of existence and conjure a new one… but I had time to do some damage before that occurred to her, especially when she knew she could punch and kick me without doing permanent harm.

I’d lessened her advantage of reach, though, and that was something.

It wasn’t much, though.

The thought processes of a true giant might have lived up to the stereotype of ponderous ponderation, but the idea of them as physically slow brutes could only have come from very distant observations without any sense of scale.

Even the most lumbering, overbuilt giants had more strength per pound than an average huma, which meant they could throw their weight around with startling speed. Pala was relatively slim and trim, with human-like proportions and a fighter’s physique. During the next flurry of blows between us, I spent as much time swatting away her hands and feet with what I’d decided to call my impact baton… since “tiny staff” didn’t sound cool enough… as I did jabbing her with her own spear. Of course that meant I was hitting her more than she was hitting me, but it wasn’t ending the fight. I was pretty sure most of the bones in her right hand were phantasmally smashed to bits and the ones in her forearm were cracked pretty badly… I’d seen similar injuries be interpreted as battle-ending by whatever formula Callahan had used.

She hadn’t revealed the criteria, but my suspicion was that it took into account the will of the individual warrior to fight on and at the moment Pala wasn’t close to giving up. The more damage I piled on, the less it seemed to matter. No pain showed on her face, just stubborn fury… not the uncontrollable red-hot fire of the berserker, but the more focused heat of the righteous scorned.

That was it, I realized… that was why she’d been able to get back up from a bruised windpipe. She was one of Coach Callahan’s star gladiators but she hadn’t learned to fight from her. It was the warrior ethos. I’d pulled a dirty trick, and then compounded it by taking up her weapon and coming at an unarmed opponent. She could have conjured a new one… and maybe she’d planned on doing so but the effrontery of me taking hers from her had spurred her into rage. She would be damned if she’d lay down and give up. It would be a fairly epic achievement for an ordinary mortal to soldier on in the face of the injuries that she was piling on, but giants were beings of epic.

Diminutive as she was, Pala was not of the clans of hill and stone that had lived in the world and been diminished by it. She came from a place where it was still possible for a hero with enough strength to do things like wrestle the earth into submission or pull the moon down from the sky for a chat. Our world was not so mythically malleable, but it seemed like it knew better than to argue with an angry storm giant when she said she was good to go.

I got a vicious jab right in her gut, which made me happy that her spear didn’t have the same visual realism settings as the mockeries created for the class had… I knew from experience it would hurt like a real.blow anyway, but it didn’t even slow her down. She wasn’t getting any solid hits on me, but every time I hit her with the baton I was getting a jolt in my bones and it was starting to add up.

How was I supposed to beat her? I could start throwing around more power, but I would quickly run out of things I could do with a phantasmal weapon… and escalating things had not gone well for me, so far. As far as I could figure… and granted I was fighting for my virtual life while I was doing the figuring… I could either take things up another level, give up, or lose a long, slow battle as my physical and mystical reserves drained away.

I knew what Callahan would want me to do, on basic principle… if I wrecked the room and won, I’d still have won. I also knew that she was forced to take a more nuanced view of things in order to maintain her position at the university… and I knew how it would play out if I did anything that could be described as a “half-demon rampage” and started inflicting property damage. A half-demon student had been blamed for the destruction of the old MU campus.

There had to be another way, a way to take some of the wind out of Pala’s sails without throwing the fight completely… a way to bring her back down to a more earthly level. If I could even just slow things down a bit, it was possible that the injuries she’d already suffered would catch up with her.

I had one idea that I wasn’t sure wouldn’t count as throwing the fight… if it didn’t work the way I hoped, things would be over very quickly. I needed some breathing room, though… enough space for Pala to see what I was doing before she could react to the opening I would have to present her.

If it didn’t work, I could explain to Coach Callahan why I had lost, and I was pretty sure that she would approve of my reasoning.

She’d probably seen something like this coming. If I was right, it hadn’t been Pala’s size and strength that she’d had in mind when she picked her for my first “special” opponent. The arena manager knew how her gladiators fought… not just their fighting styles, but their personal styles. She had to know that Pala’s sense of honor would add to the challenge, since it made it dangerous to use the very tactics that she encouraged in her class.

I summoned up another burst of elemental manipulation, invoking a rush of wind between us… a powerful gust blowing towards me… flinging elemental energy at her still seemed like a stupendously bad idea, and I couldn’t have her interpreting this as an attack. I flung my arms and legs out wide and envisioned a hard-air sail to catch it and carry me back, then found the connection between my feet and the ground to land solidly. I went down on a knee… this time completely on purpose, and held her spear of illusion out horizontally in front of me in one hand, returning it to actual size as I did so.

“I’m sorry,” I said, to put the scene into context for her a little more quickly. “I shouldn’t have kept this. You wouldn’t have… but being so much smaller, I wasn’t sure I could win.”

The last line was a completely off-the-cuff gamble. I hadn’t had it in my mind when I’d decided to offer her weapon back. I knew that Pala’d had a hard time adjusting to the idea that she was one of the biggest and strongest people around. She was more than a little bit short for a giant… if she’d been a human, then proportionally she would have stood somewhere between two and three feet tall. Reminding her how she towered over me could be thing that softened her heart… if she didn’t decide that since she could with honor despite being so small among her own people, then I had no business being so underhanded when she was only twice my size.

It was a gamble.

A moment passed… a very long moment. Pala took in what seemed like a very labored breath. She sagged a little, but then she drew herself up and began to walk towards me slowly and with obvious trepidation. I had a feeling that she’d mentally moved me to a category marked “bears watching”.

If I hadn’t watched her get up from a magically-assisted throat punch like it was nothing, I might have tried something… but then, I wouldn’t have been trying this in the first place. I went very still and tried to put a look that I hoped seemed sincere on what I hoped was my face.

She stopped in front of me, a couple of yards back, and looked down… she still seemed uncertain about me, though this wasn’t affecting her certainty in general. Even with less salt in her honor’s wounds, suspicion seemed to be enough to keep her going for the moment.

Injured though she was, the moves she executed were probably things of beauty if viewed from another angle than that of high on a hill in the face of an oncoming storm. Shifting her balance to one foot… I felt it through the earth, though I didn’t understand the import of it… she lashed out with an incredible amount of precision and kicked the spear up and out of my hands, then pivoted and with just as much precision and a lot more force she kicked me squarely in the throat.

Well, she was an honorable warrior… that was certainly fighting fair, for a certain definition of “fair”.

I’d been so completely unprepared that I’d lost my grip on my staff. I wasn’t too worried about that for the moment… if Pala didn’t let me pick it up and square myself away before she tried to take me out then she’d be fighting against the force that was keeping her on her feet.

In fact, as I was getting back on my feet, she held out a hand and a gust of wind made the baton roll almost right to me.

I picked it up.

Pala held the copper spear out to the side and let of it. It vanished in a puff of smoke. I didn’t move… I wasn’t sure what she was doing, but rushing her now would undo what I’d been trying to accomplish.

Was she rejecting my gesture? Showing me that she didn’t need it?

She turned and walked to the corner of the room where her own stone-tipped spear, the relic of her family, had fallen. She picked it up and headed to the mockbox in the corner of the room. I was suddenly reminded of the existence of other people as a few of them got out of the way. The mockbox she used didn’t have Coach Callahan’s special alterations, but as far as I knew Pala’s own illusory weapons weren’t linked into that system, either, and anyway it felt like we were already several miles beyond the pale of a normal mock combat and somehow I couldn’t imagine Coach Callahan caring.

Pala stood with her back to me as she put the spear in the box and closed it, then waited several seconds longer than necessary for it to do its work. I knew what she was doing. It was as much a test as it was a trap, and as much a trap as it was a test… I’d only started feeling my way around air currents one day before. No matter how slow she was to turn, there was no way I could take the shot she was dangling without getting a vicious smitedown.

She pulled out her illusory spear, and right away I knew that I was in trouble. She was standing up straighter. Her injuries, in particular the abdominal one, seemed to be bothering her less. If the real spear had healing magic it couldn’t do anything for phantom injuries, but the illusory duplicate would copy that capability and apply it to the illusionary wounds. It was the kind of detail that kept mock battles interesting.

At a more leisurely moment I would have liked to ask if it was a passive, ongoing effect or one she had to actively draw on… it would be important to know because it would be a lot harder to bring her down if I couldn’t make any damage stick, but even if her voice was returning I didn’t think she’d be in a mood to chat.

“I don’t suppose you’d consider a draw?” I asked, with a little effort. I had to remind myself that my own throat wasn’t actually closed… a real but non-magical foot left me with a convincing level of pain but not even an illusionary injury.

“Do you yield?” Pala asked, her voice raspy but strong.

“I’m pretty sure I can’t beat you… not when you’re fighting back and definitely not when you’re using that,” I said. “But I don’t yield.”

“Coach Callahn said that you wouldn’t,” Pala said. “Though… she did not warn me about the other stuff.”

“Did she tell you to ask me that?” I asked.

“She said if I could not beat you quickly we would reach a point where it would seem appropriate,” Pala said.

“I guess you couldn’t have asked it earlier,” I said.

“No,” Pala said. “It was not an appropriate moment.”

“Could have fooled me,” I said.

“I wouldn’t have,” she said.

“…and that’s time,” Coach Callahan said from near the door. “But good hustle out there, kiddies.”

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45 Responses to “Chapter 105: To The Mats”

  1. Celti says:

    “Even the most lumbering, overbuilt giants had more strength per pound than an average huma” — I think that last should be ‘human’.

    Current score: 0
  2. Zergonapal says:

    So my understanding is that if Mack had let loose she could have defeated a disarmed Pala with a generous side dish of collateral damage?
    Totally loved the badass flying tiger moves by the way.

    Current score: 0
    • Lakanna says:

      Considering Pala put some Mack-shaped dents in the surroundings already, I can’t imagine “add more force” turning out anything but badly. Even if Mack turned up the energy level, winning was still in doubt. She correctly figured that turning the energy level DOWN was the better option for her (and it would also keep everyone involved from having to explain the incident to Embries. I doubt he likes phrases like “collateral damage” applied to school curriculum or buildings.)

      Current score: 1
  3. Burnsidhe says:

    Wow. Also, very well read. “Fighting to disable” can also mean disarming your opponents through words and actions…

    Current score: 0
  4. LetsSee says:

    I am a bit disturbed by how fast Mac has gone from mediocre fighter to badass fighter, and is throwing magic around in the fight like it is relatively easy to do even though she is only doing it in “simple ways”. I thought she had to prepare things like shielding and moving air around like that, and I suppose she took a class that involved some of that last year, but she just did it in less than a millisecond in a big way.

    Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      I think its the difference between manipulating the elements to do simple things like push her around and constructing a matrix to manipulate the elements into doing something unnatural like a spell.

      Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      Hah. Mack is far from being a ‘badass’ fighter. What she is is durable and tough, and she’s finally starting to learn how to use the advantages of her heritage.

      That doesn’t mean she’s a ‘badass’ all of a sudden. She got lucky; well prepared kind of lucky, but lucky nonetheless. Pala would’ve won the fight if it got serious.

      Current score: 0
    • tomo says:

      if you’ll recall, she pulled this crap against sooni too.

      and she did more than just hardening air and whatnot. she was pulling rocks from midair and drenching sooni with water too.

      Current score: 0
      • Lyssa says:

        Good point. This isn’t exactly a huge change for her. That fight was full of elemental crap, so it’s obviously something she felt able to do in the past. Now, she’s learning how to harness that better. Plus, I’d guess that some of it is instinct. She’s comfortable with the elements, after all.

        Plus, Mack is so not badass. She’s just trying to be less sucky.

        Current score: 1
    • Month says:

      Also, it’s what Superman says to Darkside when they fight in Metropolis (Justise League animated, final episode third season I think)

      “You do not know what it is to live in a world made out of card-boxes. This here is a fine example of what happens when I do not limit myself.” (right before he punched him through five/four skyscrapers)

      Mac is holding things too much in her life. She is too strong, too evil, too powerful, too…. (the evil part was especially true, in her mind, last school year). So now she faces Pala, someone that is much, much stronger than her, and that she can’t really hurt. So yes. She just lets loose in this fight. If you paired her with the Kobold right now… she would lose. Badly.

      Current score: 0
  5. Stonefoot says:

    Mack’s understanding of Pala’s sense of honor, and her response, is very impressive. I think that they are going to end up as friends… the type where “I’ve got your back.” really means something, and doesn’t need to be said to be known.

    Also, Callahan’s “…good hustle out there, kiddies.” is high praise indeed.

    Current score: 0
  6. Metheglin says:

    Khersis Dei, Mack just fought a fricking giant to a draw. Living in the world might grind giants down, but I think what Mack did just qualified as a “Being of epic” her own damn self.

    Current score: 0
    • TheTurnipKing says:

      It wasn’t a draw. Slowly and inexorably Mack was losing, and that was despite Pala underestimating Mack and starting the fight using a weapon with which she was unfamiliar.

      If Pala was fighting to disable, she’d very probably have flattened Mack a lot earlier. But they’re approaching “Fighting to Disable” from different sides here, I think.

      Mack needs to get over her distaste of fighting, and it looks like Callahan thinks that Pala might benefit from fighting an array of opponents who aren’t “honourable”.

      Current score: 1
  7. Month says:

    Saved by the bell gets a new meaning.

    Current score: 0
  8. pyrephoenix says:

    I have half a dozen things I could say about this… but all I can articulate is “I’m speechless”.

    Current score: 0
  9. Jane says:

    Wow. Excellent chapter. I keep forgetting, we skipped the last half of the college year, but Mack lived through it and learned through it without an audience, and there are times when it shows.

    Current score: 0
    • Brenda says:

      Yeah – that line referring to techniques she learned in the later part of Mixed Melee really helped remind us of that.

      Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      We also skipped the last half of the first semester.

      Current score: 0
  10. Teranti says:

    “Good hustle, kiddies.” Tales from the Crypt nostalgia out of NOWHERE!

    Current score: 0
  11. Dave says:

    Great chapter!

    I like the way Mackenzie’s beginning to think about the mindset of her opponent.

    A bit near the start reads awkwardly though – a couple of words missing?

    I ended up taking a knee anyway, but I chose to believe that looked deliberate and badass… if it didn’t, then I think the moment I reached out and grabbed the falling spear before it could go bouncing away.

    This too: not sure abut the ‘a’, though you may have meant it to sound awkward:

    … and my elemental connection did warn me when a Pala’s arm-shaped object came flying around at my head.

    And Celti’s already got “average huma“.

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      @Dave: The “a” in “a Pala’s arm-shaped object” is completely appropriate, though I can understand the confusion. Leaving it out leaves one wondering what kind of arm-shaped object Pala had that she was thrusting at Mack. That phrase is a little awkward reading-wise though. It might be improved by adding a hyphen after “Pala’s”. “a Pala’s-arm-shaped object” let’s one know that what we’re dealing with is an object shaped like Pala’s arm.

      As for the “grabbed the falling spear” sentence, that one is definitely missing a word or two. I think it needs a “did” at the end to complete the thought.

      Typo Report

      The only advantage I had was that I was way too close for her to stab me or even swing for the hills

      Sentence ends without punctuation. Probably needs a period I’m guessing. Also, can someone explain what “swing for the hills” means? I’m not familiar with that idiom.

      I knew from experience it would hurt like a real.blow anyway,

      A random period found its way into the middle of the sentence in place of the space that should go between “real” and “blow”, probably the one that was supposed to follow “swing for the hills” above.

      Reminding her how she towered over me could be * thing that softened her heart… if she didn’t decide that since she could with honor despite being so small among her own people, then I had no business being so underhanded when she was only twice my size.

      Missing a “the” before “thing”. Also, I can’t figure out what the second half of the sentence is trying to say, the part following the ellipsis. Decide that she could what with honor? Or is that “with” supposed to be “win”? No matter how I try I just can’t figure out what that sentence is trying to say.

      Pala held the copper spear out to the side and let * of it.

      Missing a “go” in this sentence after “let”.

      Current score: 0
      • Lakanna says:

        “Swing for the hills” is a full-force swing, putting everything you have into connecting, and HARD. It’s a baseball term, and generally means that you can’t adjust once you start: you choose a course of action, and commit to it.
        I imagine that in a fight, someone swinging for the hills would ignore defense in favor of a single offensive move that is supposed to end the fight there.

        Current score: 0
        • anon says:

          It is similar to the term swing for the fences. trying to hit the ball far enough that it leaves the baseball field

          Current score: 0
  12. Andrea says:

    Wow. I can’t wait to see how the other students fight Pala, and how they’re unique as fighters.

    Current score: 0
  13. Readaholic says:

    Wow. Awesome fight is awesome.

    Current score: 0
  14. Eris Harmony says:

    “Knowing that the injury was illusory only made me feel slightly better about inflicting it… I would have had a harder time steeling myself up to inflict it if I had known that it wouldn’t have ended the fight. I’d been counting on the idea that it would cancel itself out as soon as it was registered.”

    I rather hope Mack doesn’t wind up in an honest-to-Khersis fight in the near future. Admittedly, Pala is, if not a friend, at least on the near side of the line between ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’, but I imagine this would become a self-limiting factor when fighting with un-mocked weapons. Especially given that Mack’s more likely than most to wind up in a fight with other humanoids.

    Current score: 1
    • TheTurnipKing says:

      Nah, the point of “fighting to disable” is to make the actions instinctive, so they’ll come when they’re needed.

      She’ll probably feel pretty sick about what she’s done after the fact, but by that point the fight’ll be over.

      Current score: 1
      • Kimmi says:

        nearly nothing does she have down at that level yet.

        And… actions that come instinctively when they’re needed, often come when rational brain thinks they ought not.

        Current score: 0
      • JS says:

        I’m of two minds about the usefulness of this class for Mack. One one hand, she needs to be able to defend herself, and well, from beings who may be using magical weapons against her. On the other, she’s a half-demon, who will be vilified and instantly judged guilty of anything she is involved in (and some she isn’t!). As with humans who have highly trained fighting capabilities, when reactions are instinctive or under-controlled they could cause her some MAJOR trouble.

        Current score: 0
        • Marian says:

          This class is useful because it teaches how to fight without hesitation and without holding back, doing anything necessary to win quickly and decisively.
          Considering that if Mackenzie ever gets into a real fight for her life (and being what she is it is likely some zealot will go after her sooner or later) she has to be ruthless and quick. And then run away while cooler heads determine her innocence before the lynch mob can bless/freeze her to death.
          And Callahan already pointed out that since Mackenzie learned how to use her superior strength to bludgeon her ordinary opponents to death she essentially stopped learning. Therefor she set a new challenge for Mackenzie where she does not have the advantages of reach or strength.
          Earlier Callahan complained that all ‘fighting’ classes really trained people to fight to a scoring system. Mackenzie, and most non-humans, can not afford to enter a fight with that mindset. They will always be considered -less- by the full blooded humans and their justice system and nobody is going to call ‘win’ on their behalf in a real fight.
          Of course should there ever be a new chapter to the chaos war then Callahan is in essence training special forces for it. And probably it appeals to her to take a hopeless geek like Mackenzie and turn (twist) her into somebody who destroys her opponent quickly, ruthlessly and without a moment hesitation (and if she can swing it she probably will work on Mackenzie enjoying it as well, or at least feel not the least shred of remorse for what she just did).
          As to why she does this, it could be that she does not want to see another naive kid go down like the one on the bridge in the mission she was strongarmed into (who had no clue how to defend herself or how to avoid getting into suicidal situations). Or it could be that she hopes that some of the children she trains will end up being interesting opponents for her to fight later.

          Current score: 0
  15. Don says:

    Mac may not be a badass but AE sure is. I’m constantly impressed by how compelling and interesting MU continues to be. A lot of serial fiction gets by on the reader wondering “well what’s going to happen?” MU has that in spades but continually develops the characters and the world. Bravo, AE.

    Current score: 0
  16. Dave says:

    I guess we won’t get to it for a while yet, but I’m really looking forward to finding out how Nae fights Mackenzie. And who wins!

    Current score: 0
  17. Xi says:

    That was fun. I love the fact that Callahan was happy with a ‘diplomacy to disarm’ ending. After all what are words but another tool in your belt to disarm and defeat the enemy?

    Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      Sun-tzu labels “diplomacy” as a tool of the true general.

      Current score: 0
  18. pedestrian says:

    I had to take some time to think about this chapter.

    The impression I am taking away is that both Pala and
    Our Mack are learning to fight smart.

    Current score: 0
  19. angellus00 says:

    Loved this one!

    Current score: 0
  20. Zathras IX says:

    Some elemental
    Manipulation’s far from

    Current score: 0
  21. pedestrian says:

    Mackenzie has one break going for her, at least she does not have to worry bout her situation going alimental.

    ….oh wait, unless Steff has her back…..

    ….or Amaranth finally gets her kink on…..

    Current score: 1
  22. Um the Muse says:

    I don’t really understand the last exchange between Pala and Mack. It looks like they’re talking about the appropriateness of Pala asking Mack whether she yields, right? Here’s my interpretation of what was said:

    “Coach Callahn said that you wouldn’t,” Pala said. “Though… she did not warn me about the other stuff [your superhuman strength? Your durability? Your willingness to fight to win (i.e. “without honor”?)].”

    “Did she tell you to ask me [to yield?]?” I asked.

    “She said if I could not beat you quickly we would reach a point where it would seem appropriate [to ask if you yield?],” Pala said.

    “I guess you couldn’t have asked it earlier,” I said.

    “No,” Pala said. “It was not an appropriate moment.”

    “Could have fooled me,” I said.

    Are they talking about yielding? Or did Mack mean something different? “Did she tell you to ask me about my” invulnerability/fighting style/my non-physical abilities and enhanced senses?

    And then Mack seems to change her mind from one second to the next here: she decides that Pala didn’t have an appropriate moment to ask the question, then when Pala agrees, she switches to “Could have fooled me.” Did I miss something here?

    Current score: 0
    • TheTurnipKing says:

      Pala is the one who says she it wasnt an appropriate time to ask the question.

      Mack says that Pala “could have fooled me” – that it wasn’t an appropriate time

      To which Pala replies “I wouldn’t have”. A none-too-subtle jab at what she percieves as Mack’s dishonorable fighting tactics.

      Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      Although “I guess you couldn’t have asked it earlier,” is phrased as a statement is effectively the question “Couldn’t uou have asked it earlier?”

      Current score: 0
  23. Sapphite says:

    These last two chapters are full of awesome (and typos)! Really quite blown away – thank you AE!

    Current score: 0
  24. Um the Muse says:

    Making that statement into a question would make sense of the exchange, thank you.
    I think it could still use some clearing up, but nobody else seems to find it jarring. Oh well, the scene was still pretty fun overall

    Current score: 0