Zan was happy to be dropped off with the girls of Cora’s household that morning—along with the new member, who claimed to be a muse. Although Miara was quite skeptical, Zan enjoyed playing and singing and making a racket with her. She got down to the Danger Room, which functioned like a large holodeck, by quarter of eight, since it was a day she planned on working on sku’rarei, and began stretching before warming up with the field and forest program she used for the Lupa group sessions. She paused a moment, thinking she’d heard a noise, and the door slid shut. She didn’t see or feel anyone, however, and figured whoever it was hadn’t realized the room was occupied, and gone away. So she started sparing patterns with her usual power doll.
It only took a few moments to feel watched, however, and she’d no sooner paused than her astral picked up on an energy discharge—just enough time to dodge the bolt of energy that came at her, catching the hem of her shorts and searing a small spot on her thigh. It was followed with several more as she rolled with a shield, and the next thing she knew, Solartiger was nearly on her with a huge mace of some sort.
Changing the leg he sought purchase of, she kicked away and yelled for her weapons locker. It appeared in the program, nearby, and she grabbed her warhammer with a flip onto the case, coming right off at him, hammer swinging up into his lower back. He could feel the pressure deep in his spine, despite the light armor he wore, and realized how strong this Lupa woman was, compared to Humans. Then she came at him again, and they were off in a masters’ duel neither of them was familiar with.
He wasn’t sure if it was the broken Bat’lath, which seemed to have been real rather than a computer-generated weapon, or the resulting inadvertent cut close to the center of one breast that did it, but the Lupa woman had suddenly turned on yet another level of insanely good ferocious fighting. Their styles were beginning to permeate, and he lashed his tail out of her sword’s path just a little too late. The metal sliced through a good width of it, and as she came closer he snatched her this time, ready to throw her on the ground, but she changed fully this time, clinging with her claws. She managed to climb a ways up before he held her in place again.
It was just an arm that changed as he scraped his claws across her back, but the force of the punch she landed on his mechanical eye broke several components and left him blind in that eye. With a roar, he caught her arm in a vice-like grip until it shattered, and he used it to smash her into the ground. Something else cracked, and he saw she was winded, fighting for air. He was bringing his foot down on the back of her neck when everything went blue, and a wall of power slammed him into a tree with a loud crack. He just hoped it wouldn’t land on him as he went down on all fours.
They both watched as it fell in the other direction, the interlocked higher branches doing damage to the trees around it. Solartiger managed to drag himself some distance away, which happened to be closer to the Lupa woman—he’d met her before, what was her name? Mia, Miara? She watched him, suspicious, but he just shook his head and rolled over onto his back, staring up at the sky.
“Can you move?” he asked her, rather sure her ribs were broken.
“Can you?” she shot back.
“I think maybe we’d better. There is a clinic in this hotel, yes?”
“Yup. Don’t worry, he or Aes can fix you just fine.”
It took quite a bit of effort to get up without aggravating her wounds so much she couldn’t breathe, and then she felt the sprained ankle she’d ignored the last hour or so. Apparently neither of them could stand up straight—Solartiger’s spine hurt.
“How did you do that?”
“Astral,” she wheezed, sure she’d never broken so many ribs before. “My other—great—talent.” She didn’t say it, but that had been nearly everything she had—she’d had no idea if he’d meant to kill her or not, or if he even knew.
He nodded, now feeling his tail dragging behind him, and reached around to pick up the end. She must have cut it most of the way through. “I don’t think I can carry you.”
“I didn’t ask. But yeah, everything’s screaming, I know.”
They made it to the door, where Miara got a rope of her bag and half dragged, half floated it along with her good arm with more of the blue power. The elevator seemed a long ways away, but they made it, and the gravity as it began to move made them both groan.
The EMH was already on and waiting when they finally got into the clinic. The somewhat exasperated set of his jaw said volumes as they each made their way to biobeds, Miara routinely pulling off her chest wrap and shorts before lying down, and the EMH handed her a hypospray before helping Solartiger with his armor.
“Perhaps the tail should be fixed,” he suggested.
“Let’s see; yes, that would be quite painful,” the EMH said of the tail hole in his armor. Running a tricorder over it, he next turned to pick up a smaller device. “Stand still or sit down, please.”
Solartiger supposed he’d better sit, and didn’t like how long it took to do so. A glance at Miara showed she was already sedate. “Does she come here often?”
“Much more often than I’d like, but not usually in this condition,” he said tersely, doing something to his tail that made it tingle. “You don’t seem to have much sense, either.”
“It won’t be a habit,” Solartiger said.
“I should hope not. Now, you can remove the rest of it.”
While he did so, the EMH went to read Miara’s biomonitor, pressing his lips together. “Blood all over my bed again. You have to learn to be more careful.”
“What do you expect? We have claws.”
At least, that’s what Solartiger thought she said, mumbled as it was. Her eyes were barely open.
“Shattered arm and wrist, broken ribs, cracked ankle, claws and bruises everywhere…you’re not going to just walk away this time. Or you, either.”
“We know,” Solartiger said with a nod.
“We’ll handle it. Hope it won’t take too long…programing…”
“Just go to sleep, and I’ll wake you in a few hours.”
He was back to Solartiger shortly, whose unusual and unfamiliar physiology kept him busy a bit longer before he, too, got a dose of nanites and a hypospray of what were hopefully safe levels of pain killers and sedatives.
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