Crouching low, Mira pulled the sword up over her head, and quickly swiped down in a sharp arc. Instantly at one with her weapon, she began the training dance, moving fluidly forward in a deadly ballet with her invisible opponent. Spinning and twirling while slashing the air with her blade she hardly noticed the other presence in the room. It was only when her sword met with resistance and the loud clang of metal on metal, brought her back to reality that she saw who was there.
“Careful, princess, might take someone’s head off,” Justine smirked. Her own twin blades at the ready, she stepped back and fell into a fighting stance.
Last time Mira had come up against Justine, she’d been unskilled, weak, and defenseless. She was none of those things now.
“Are we doing this?” She smirked, happy to have an opponent worthy of sparring with.
“You made the challenge. So, bring it.”
That she had. Back in the council chamber. And though her anger had cooled since then, she was ready and willing to prove herself. Mira rotated the sword in her hand a few times to loosen up her wrist and without warning brought the blade up hard at Justine.
Twin daggers ready, Justine met the incoming sword with both her blades, crossing them as she pulled back quickly. “Oh you are aiming to kill, aren’t you? What’s got you all riled up?”
“You know very well.” Mira spun on her heel and used the momentum to slash at Justine as she came around. “The futility of our situation.”
“Oh yeah, we’re fucked.” Tip of the sword barely missing Justine’s face, she deflected with the dagger in her right hand. “But you didn’t have to take a human’s side.”
“It’s not taking sides to recognize reason.”
“Humans are never reasonable.”
“I’m going to choose to ignore that.”
“You’re ignoring a lot these days.” It was Justine’s turn to advance, taking advantage of Mira’s wide swings she closed in and jammed her blade in Mira’s side. “Don’t forget what they did to us.”
Hissing in pain, Mira brought the pommel of her sword down against Justine’s head and shoved her back.
The blade hurt just as much going out as it had going in. Mira clutched her wounded side as she eyed Justine licking the blood from her dagger and reset into a fighting stance.
“I have not forgotten the bad or the good.” Mira lunged forward. The tip of her blade made contact, but Justine did not cry out in pain. She leaned away and deflected the blade with her daggers. It might not have gone deep, but Mira saw blood. She smiled at her small accomplishment.
“It’s only a scratch.” Justine huffed, looking at the wound already beginning to heal. “Don’t get cocky.”
“You want more?” Mira taunted.
“Can you do more? Where is this great warrior everyone talks about?”
It shouldn’t have bothered her, but Mira had her reputation for a reason, and hearing those words compounded the rage boiling inside her. She attacked with a fury reserved normally for those who were going to die. Had she been fighting anyone but Justine, they might have. Speed of lightning, Mira moved with deadly precision bringing the sword down and around Justine’s head as if she meant to take it off. Only fast reflexes and sixty years of gladiator battles had given Justine the skills to avoid decapitation.
“You know what your problem is?” Justine taunted, twisting her blades around in her hands and bouncing on the balls of her feet.
Mira reset, watching her opponent, anticipating the attack that would come. “Enlighten me?”
Justine ducked low and swiped at Mira’s stomach. The blade failed to meet its mark by scant inches. “You’re a great big baby.”
Justine deflected Mira’s responding swipe of the sword and reset again for her next attack. “It wasn’t a joke.”
“Did you come here just to piss me off?”
“I came to see if it was worth sticking around.”
“You know, when I saw you, the great savior, as I entered New Haven, I was proud. I remembered that weak, pathetic little girl running away from mommy and daddy. She never should have survived.”
“But I did.”
“Yes… but how? Because this person I see here, she’s not a survivor. She’s still that weak little girl.”
“I’ll show you weak.” She backed Justine almost to the edge of the arena with a fury of wild swings.
“Oh, so you do have some balls.” Having hit the far wall, Justine ducked and pivoted around Mira’s blade coming out behind her and sliding her knife around to Mira’s neck. She whispered in her ear. “C’mon then, warrior. Fight back like you mean it.”
Justine wasn’t looking for a sparring match, it seemed all she cared to do this evening was piss Mira off, and she’d done just that. “I’m tired. We’re done here.”
Justine laughed. “Tired? Tired? You’re tired? For sixty years I’ve done one thing. The one thing I told you to do. You’re tired. Then go off and die, because you don’t deserve to survive.”
“I did not earn my reputation for nothing.”
“But you’re still not the true warrior I’d expected.”
Mira took in a deep breath, feeling the edge of the blade against her throat. “Sorry to disappoint.”
“How can you be so pathetic?” Justine released Mira with a shove.
“You have it all, princess. You’re the savior. You’ve got adoring fans, freedom, and the love of a very hot wolfman, and still you’re moping about. Oh poor you.”
“You call worrying over the survival of the people I just freed, moping?”
“Yeah, because your pissing time away in meetings instead of just fixing the problem. You know as well as I do that the only way to kill a beast is to cut off the head.”
“It’s not as simple as that. Or were you not paying attention in the meeting?”
“Yeah. I heard a lot of whining and crying over people who might die. Just fucking do something.”
“I can’t risk the lives of innocents.”
“You’re already doing it by doing nothing. Get out there and fix it.”
Justine, as usual had hit the root of the problem. But it was precisely that which had them all stalled in committee.”
“You’ve got problems. We’ve all got problems. Everyone wants to live their happy little life, but right now, it’s not an option. Suck it up, princess. Do something about it.”
“I am doing something.” What more did she expect? Mira had said her peace in the meetings and had been overshadowed by Lucian and Stryker’s plan. All she could do was hold tight.
“No, you’re wasting time waiting for others to do things. Story of your life. You want to be this independent person, in control, and all the while, you’re letting others decide what happens in your life. I’ll bet you haven’t even taken that wolf of yours to bed. You’re waiting until he forces you past your extremely obvious intimacy issues.”
“That’s none of your concern.” She was dangerously close to crossing the line. Mira tightened her grip on the sword.
“Or how about the human who’s pining away for you.”
“Again, none of your concern,” Mira’s voice became dangerously quiet. She was moments from losing her patience.
“We’ll if you won’t take him, I will.”
“Have the human.” That will be the day!
“And the wolf too. I’d give him more than enough reason to leave your crybaby ass behind.”
“You go too far.”
Justine threw the dagger in her left hand, burring it deep into Mira’s chest. “So teach me a lesson, great warrior.”
Mira fell to her knees with a groan. Pawing at her chest to remove the blade.
“How ever did you survive?” Justine spat at Mira. “Maybe I’ll just take that wolfman as my prize for killing you.”