Ekajra swung for Dehr’s chest, but Dehr pulled his knife up quickly to block it. He then pushed against Ekajra, knocking him back so he could take a swing at him. Ekajra blocked it, twisted around Dehr and swung at him. Dehr jumped back slightly and spun around, their blades met head on. They stood there for a moment, then started to pick up into a flurry of back and forth movements. One would attack, the other would counter. Each seemed to be perfectly balanced.
After a while, the battle began to take its toll on them, as both fighters began to feel weary. Their movements started becoming more sluggish, but neither wanted to give up. Ekajra didn’t want to get dragged back to the Legion, and Dehr knew he’d never let a bounty go, especially not one worth as much as Ekajra. At one attack they swung at each other at the same time again, and stood there for a moment, pushing against each other.
‘By the friggin’ Walkers, this is taking forever! I have to find a way to wrap this up,’ Dehr thought as he looked Ekajra over. After a while his gaze drifted to Ekajra’s left arm, just below his shoulder. ‘Wait, what’s that? Looks like he’s had a lot of damage there. And if I can take out his arm…’ Dehr quickly brought his leg up, catching Ekajra off guard. He stumbled back, and Dehr delivered a quick series of kicks to knock Ekajra back, as he jumped away himself. “Alright Ekajra, this has been fun and all,” Dehr said as he stood up fully, catching his breath. “but it’s time to finish this.”
“Yeah. And it’s gonna finish with me beating you!” Ekajra yelled as he ran for Dehr. Dehr quickly pulled out a single, thin throwing knife. He aimed carefully, then let it fly. Ekajra didn’t even notice it, and it flew straight at him, slashing through his arm at the exact point Dehr had hoped for. The welding gave way, and the knife dug the wound even deeper.
“Bull’s eye,” Dehr said to himself as Ekajra fell to the ground, yelling. His knife automatically withdrew itself as his arm realized it had been damaged severely. Sparks flew out if the crevice as Ekajra attempted to move it, with no luck. He managed to get on his feet, and was about to run for Dehr when he noticed he was doing something odd.
Dehr had his left arm pointed towards Ekajra, fingers spread out. Ekajra caught a glimpse of something glowing on Dehr’s shoulder, but didn’t have time to look at it properly as Dehr suddenly thrust his hand down and pulled it back up, bringing his fingers closer together. At the same time the ground around Ekajra depressed slightly, then sprung up, creating a small, stone cage around him. “What the…” Ekajra muttered as he looked around his new prison.
“Man, I don’t like using that too much, but the way things were going I figured I didn’t have much other choice,” Dehr said, mostly to himself, before looking directly at Ekajra. “Like it? It’s a little bit of earth powers, not much really, just controlling rocks and all that.“ Dehr pulled up his left arm, showing the glowing symbol on his shoulder. He then started walking towards the cage. “Great, now I’ve gotta find all my weapons.” He started walking away, then turned around, smirking. “Stay here, and don’t even try breaking out, unless you want to break your other arm.” With that he walked off, grabbing a few knives on the way. He picked up his wakizishi, strapping it back to his leg, then went off into the woods, leaving Ekajra alone.
“Well, this is just great, I went and got captured. And I don’t have any way of contacting Alerak to have him come and bust me out. Well, eventually he’ll have to let me out to hand me over to the Legion, and I’ll escape then. Hopefully.”
Meanwhile, Dehr was pulling Reipar out of a tree it had been imbedded in. “Man, he really is tough. I can see why the Dark Legion wants him back. Of course, if they’re trying to get him back on their side, are they planning a big attack on the rest of the island? Cause that would probably be bad for me.” Dehr finally wrenched the battle-axe out, swung it around, and clamped it onto his back. “Oh well, at least they pay well.”
Dehr walked back into the clearing and stood next to Ekajra’s cage. “Alright buddy, let’s get going.” He turned so his left arm was next to the cage, put his outstretched hand next to it, and lighted it slightly. The cage followed his hand and moved up out of the ground, hovering barely an inch above the ground. Dehr started walking towards the woods, and Ekajra followed him.
After traveling in silence for what seemed like forever, Ekajra said, “So, what’s with the earth powers?”
“Pretty interesting, eh? Yeah, a little while back my techie managed to extract the life force out of a rock, and fused it with my life force. And now I have these earth powers. It takes a lot of energy, so I don’t use it that much, but it does come in handy.”
“So, you’re basically a freak of science now?” Ekajra said bluntly.
“Yeah, I guess you could put it that way,” Dehr said with a slight laugh.
“That makes too of us.”
“What do you mean? Aren’t all Legionnaires cyborgs like you? I mean, one of the guys that was there when I was hired, from what I could see, look almost completely metal.”
“Yeah, well, I’m “special”, I guess you could say. You’ve probably already noticed the knuckle spurs and the symbol, right?”
“So the spurs are real?” Dehr asked, and Ekajra nodded. “Huh, but aren’t most of you guys distant relatives to the guardians?”
“Yeah, some people. I’m pretty sure I’m not one of them. And besides, none of the Legion who are have them. In fact, I heard some older Guardians didn’t even have spurs.”
“Interesting. So I’m guessing the symbol isn’t just a tattoo either. How’d you get those?”
“Well, a long time ago, back when I was a little kid, a group of researchers, my dad being one of them, proposed an idea for using genetic engineering to create the Dark Legion’s own Guardian. Now normally the Dark Legion doesn’t really care about anything of that sort, they’d rather replace as many body parts as they can, but since they’d already managed to somehow gain some of the Guardian’s DNA, the project was given the “go ahead.” I was chosen as the test subject, since the project was mostly my dad’s idea, and I was young enough for the powers to fully mature in me.”
“That’s kind of weird, now I’m really intrigued. Go on.”
“Well, I don’t know if the DNA didn’t fuse with mine right or the idea was just plain too crazy too work, but I didn’t get all the powers they’d hoped for. In particular, the ability to control chaos energy. So the project was deemed a failure. So I got the usual Legion cybernetics and all that shnizz, but after that most others in the Legion…”
“Oh, wait, let me guess. Everyone else shunned and or was an overall jerk to you, which is why you eventually left.”
“Yep. That’s basically what happened. Everyone more or less shunned me, except for my family. And of course Alerak.”
“Oh, Alerak, the friend of mine who left with me. I guess you could call him my techie.”
“Wait, some one else left with you, and he’s a techie?”
“Oh, nothing,” Dehr said, but quickly seemed to think about something, then after a while muttered something really fast and quietly, which Ekajra couldn’t hear.
“What was that about?”
“Oh, nothing, just thinking. Forget about it,” Dehr said, with a smirk.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, a figure was working at a vast network of computers in his home a short distance away from Echidnaopolis. It wasn’t an echidna; he was a fox, which was likely why he didn’t live in the city. “Honestly, does he really think he’ll get extra money for bringing in someone that he wasn’t asked to.” The fox sighed, messing with his scraggly hair for a moment. “Oh well, he’s the bounty hunter not me. Better find out where this “Alerak” lives. Let’s check the EST out first…” he said, typing a series of commands into his computer.
* * * * *
“Hey just out a curiosity, how much is the Legion paying for me?” Ekajra asked after another long period of silence.
“10,000. Of course, in usual hitman dealing fashion, they whipped out the usual “half now, half later” line.”
“Dang, that’s actually quite a lot.”
“Yeah, maybe you’ll get treated better considering they went to all the trouble to get you back.”
“Doubt it. They’re probably just freaked that I started working “with” the Chaotix.”
“So you really don’t like those guys?”
“Well, I don’t like the Guardian, I’ll leave it at that. The Legion probably just wants me back so they can lock me up or something.”
“Well, you’ll find out soon enough. We’re almost to the rendezvous point,” Dehr said, pointing at the opening in the trees ahead.