Bonus Story: Between Rounds

on November 5, 2008 in Other Tales


Nights at the arena were a social occasion as much as anything else, and even people who enjoyed the fights often spent as much time hanging out in the halls of the athletic center… or outside it, when the weather was nice… as they did in the stands watching the action of the pit, especially once their friends and favorites had been eliminated.

So was the case of two girls, who’d wandered down through the bowels of the athletic center at the end of round three, with idle thoughts of bumping into some of the male gladiators who’d just finished fighting.

“So, how come you aren’t fighting tonight, Lauren?” one of them asked the other. “I thought you were pretty good at the open night.”

“Yeah, well, I just think it’s more fun in open night… everything’s so serious in the tournament ladders,” Lauren replied. They turned the corner. “Oh, hey, Pala!” she called.

Pala Asgeirsdottir would have stood more than ten feet tall, had she been standing. Instead, she was laying on the sloping floor of the hallway, her head angled downward. Her icy blonde hair spread out on the floor behind her like it was streaming in the wind. Her eyes were closed, but her mouth was moving. She was wearing a pajama-like padded cloth slip that went under her armor.

“Hello,” she responded in Thylean-accented Pax, opening her eyes and lifting her head. “Hello, Lauren. I do not know your friend. Hello, Lauren’s friend.”

“Oh, this is Kyla,” Lauren said.

“Hello, Kyla.”

“Hi,” Kyla said. “Um, why are you laying like that?”

“Like what?” Pala asked.

“With your head like that,” Kyla said. “Isn’t that making all the blood flow into your head?”

“I have a lot of blood,” Pala said, shaking her head. “Maybe it is taking a while.”

“So… when are you fighting tonight?” Lauren asked.

“Fifth heat,” she said.

“Fourth,” a voice said from the bottom of the sloped hallway. Coach Jillian Callahan, looking more petite than ever in contrast to Pala, had just stepped into view. “I need you in the fourth round, Tiny.”

“But there is not anybody for me to fight in the fourth round,” Pala said, leaning her head back and rolling her eyes upward to try to look at her coach while she spoke. She didn’t quite succeed.

“Correction: there shouldn’t be,” Callahan said, heading up the hallway. “But somebody decided to be a smart ass. You two take a walk,” she said to the other girls.

“Bye, Pala,” Lauren said over shoulder as they hurried away.

“Bye, Pala,” Kyla said.

“Goodbye,” Pala said.

“I didn’t know you were friends with a Harlot,” Kyla said when they weren’t quite out of earshot.

“She isn’t a Harlot,” Lauren said.

“Yeah? What dorm’s she in?”

“She says she commutes.”

Callahan waited for the sound of their conversation to fade before she spoke.

“Look, this chick’s winning fights with brute strength she didn’t have during practice,” she said quietly. “But everybody and their god is saying she’s not buffing. I can’t throw her out, so you’re going to take her out.”

“Coach… I am not sure about ethics of this,” Pala said.

“I’ve never been sure about ethics,” Callahan said. “But the way she’s jumping around, she could fuck somebody up for real.”

“Okay,” the giant woman said. She rolled over onto her stomach and pushed herself up off the floor. “I will go get ready.”

“Look, Tiny, you should know that she’s stronger than you are,” Callahan said. “You can beat her. She doesn’t have any real skill, and even less discipline… but I want you to be ready.”

“How is this possible?” Pala asked.

“Fuck me if I know,” Callahan said. “It didn’t come out of a bottle. She’s easily the strongest person in the house tonight, and with the Vice-Chancellor in the audience that’s really saying something.”

“Do I have time to pray before my bout?”

“Make it quick,” Callahan said. “And try not to make it rain or some shit. I’ve got plans later.”

“Okey dokey,” Pala said, and she headed off to find the stairs that would take her to the roof.

The coach watched her striding up the hall, her legs almost as long as the coach was tall… not counting her hair, of course. She had to duck her head when she got to the upper end of the hallway, where the floor was closer to the ceiling.

Callahan didn’t do chicks, but for some reason she felt like she could watch Pala Asgeirsdottir walk forever. There was a kind of absurd beauty to it, like watching a bull elephant tiptoe delicately across a tightrope.

With that important piece of business taken care of, she checked her timepiece to make sure she had time and then headed back down to the locker rooms. She knocked loudly on the door of the women’s, waited, and then headed in.

“Oh, sweet fucking Khersis!” she bellowed, upon finding one of the female fighters sitting on the edge of a table covered with charts and notes, with another one kneeling down between her legs. “Why is it that I can walk into the men’s side and hardly ever see two guys gobbling each other’s cranks but even when I knock first I still walk in on this shit all the time?” she asked. “At least keep it off the fucking desk. I have sex on that too, you know.”

Neither of the girls said anything.

“Out!” she yelled, pointing at the door, and they scampered for it, with much grabbing of clothes. Shaking her head, she inspected the stat sheets to make sure they hadn’t been damaged too badly and found the ones she’d need for the remaining rounds. She clipped them into her clipboard then headed out and across the hall to the other locker room, which she entered without hesitating.

It was a lot more full than the first one had been. Some of the boys… mostly freshmen and other first-time fighters… ducked back behind a row of lockers or grabbed for towels or pants.

“Why is it that I can walk into the women’s lockers any time and find a couple of dykes going at it but even when I don’t knock, I never find anybody sucking dick in here?” she asked. “Come on, people! Porn is expensive, and they don’t pay me enough.” She looked around the room. “Has anybody seen Mason?”

There were a lot of blank looks, but one of the guys nodded and pointed to a metal door set in the wall. There was a small window in the door, but it was clouded over. She pulled the door open and a billowing cloud of steam burst out.

“Shit!” Ian Mason cried at the sudden influx of cold. From the looks of things, he’d been in there for a while. What’s more, he looked like he’d been running a marathon inside it.

“Mason! I told you to relax a bit!” she said.

“What the hell’s the steamroom for?” he asked.

“Relaxing,” she said. “Which isn’t what you’ve been doing. You’ve got this thing cranked up to hell and you look like you’ve been wrestling ogres in it.”

“I’m finding my element,” he said. He grinned stupidly. “It’s more relaxing than you might think.”

“Do you even care if you win tonight?”

“Tonight? Don’t know if I do or not,” he said.

She stared at him for a few moments. He wasn’t relaxed, but he seemed strangely calm… far more mellow than she was used to seeing him. But then, she’d only seen him for the first time a few days before, and most of what she knew of him was from watching him fight.

You could learn a lot about a person from watching them fight, but you couldn’t learn everything.

“Okay, then,” she said. She shut the door, and turned the wheel beside it up another notch. The kid would get his head straightened out or he wouldn’t. If he didn’t, it was not her problem. She turned around to find a few of the guys staring at her. “That boner better be for one of your friends, Patterson,” she said. “I want everybody who’s in round four lined up and ready to go, and everybody who’s done fighting to get dressed and get the hell out. If you aren’t going to do each other, you’re just teasing me by hanging out in here.”

There was a grumbling flurry of activity in response to these directives. She collected up the stat sheets she needed from the men’s locker room and then headed out and turned to head back to the arena, bumping her face into Pala Asgeirsdottir’s now metal-clad crotch.

“Dark fucking Herald, watch where you’re going, Tiny!” Callahan screamed.

“I’m sorry,” Pala said. “I did not hurt you?”

“I’ll kick your ass later,” Callahan said, rubbing her nose. “Anyway, that was a quick prayer.”

“I am sorry, I am such the airhead, but I forgot to ask you, who am I to be fighting?” Pala asked. “I need her name for my prayers.”

“Banks-LaBelle,” Callahan said. “Ceridwyn Banks-LaBelle.”

“That sounds like it is a human name.”

“It is, and she is, for almost all intents and purposes,” Callahan said. “She’s got a little dwarf blood, and a little nymph blood. Nothing you’d notice, though… especially the nymph part. Anyway, I’d save your breath on the prayers if I were you.”

“Why?”

“She’s not worth it,” Callahan said.

“Oh, that’s okay,” Pala said. “I have a lot of breath.”

“Your choice,” Callahan said. “I have to go get things started. Don’t take too long.”

“Okey dokey,” Pala said, and she set off for the roof once more.

“And don’t fucking make it rain!” Callahan called after her.

“I already did, a little,” Pala called back. “Sorry!”

Callahan rarely met somebody whose ass she did not immediately want to kick. It was something in her makeup or her upbringing… some aggressive impulse that made her immediately think, “Can I take this person?” and demanded an answer. She’d learned to suppress it, to not listen to that voice when it would be impractical or impolitic to do so… but she loved having a job where it was acceptable for her to beat on people who were generally in the snottiest, most annoying phase of their lives.

Pala Asgeirsdottir was not snotty, though she was plenty annoying in her big clueless way… but Callahan rarely felt the urge to beat on her. Part of it might have been that punching her in the face was not so much an option. A larger part of it was what she thought of as an elven aversion to mortality. But part of it was just the too-earnest young woman’s clueless good nature. Her great strength aside, Pala would never last long in the war.

It should have made Callahan sick to her stomach. It should have made her want to hit her harder. Somehow, though, Callahan felt like it would take all the fun out of it. She was like that spacey golem girl that they had working in the burger stand. Callahan had no respect for people like that, but she couldn’t hate them, and she could barely manage to be angry at them.

“Fan-freaking-tastic,” Callahan muttered, after watching her go. “The Littlest Storm Giant versus the Biggest Shit. I really hope she wins.”


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9 Responses to “Bonus Story: Between Rounds”

  1. pedestrian says:

    dear jilly, a star fell from the heavens tonight to grant your wish. And thoroughly nuked the Pudding.

    Current score: 3
  2. Erm says:

    Just noticed:

    Pala would never last long in the war

    What war?

    Current score: 0
    • WsntHere says:

      As Gillian (Flattop) Callahan pointed out in an early bonus story, there is ALWAYS a war somewhere. That universe is an analog of ours, so…

      Current score: 5
      • Maesenko says:

        Thank you for finally explaining who Flattop was. I managed to piece all the others together, but the description of Flattop didn’t remind me of Callahan.

        Current score: 2
  3. Anonymoose says:

    A Storm Giant? That would explain a lot if Coach Psycho-Mutt isn’t being facetious.

    On that note, do Storm Giants need lots of oxygen? It almost sounded like she was taking huge gulps of air when those students found her.

    Current score: 2
    • BlackWizard says:

      I think this Storm Giant is just a few clouds shy of a rainstorm if you know what I mean…

      Current score: 1
  4. Daezed says:

    […….]and with the Vice-Chancellor in the audience that’s really saying something.”[…….]

    Ah HA! Ah ha, ah ha, ah ha!

    So doors really don’t remain locked to her, and she really….well, just makes one wonder perhaps what else Puddy may in fact have kind of been telling the truth about…..

    Current score: 9
    • zeel says:

      Wow, I forgot about this chapter! He was there, which makes puddy pretty disturbingly strong.

      Current score: 0
  5. undertheteacup says:

    “Callahan didn’t do chicks, but for some reason she felt like she could watch Pala Asgeirsdottir walk forever.”

    Well, fuck. The single most attractive character in the entire story, and she’s not into women. I guess I’ll just have to rectify that in my fantasies…

    Current score: 0