Kage stood up completely, and Ekajra looked over his armaments further. “Huh. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that more shnizz than you had before?” he asked plainly.

“If by “shnizz” you mean weaponry and armor, then yes, I have had some improvements,” Kage replied.

Ekajra had to resist the urge to smack his palm to his face. “Geez dude. You haven’t even fought me yet and you put on more weapons?”

“Better to be safe than sorry,” Kage said as he ran towards Ekajra. He slashed at Ekajra, but Ekajra pulled his arm up to block the attack, the three claw blades scraping against the side of his arm. Kage pushed against him, and he began to slide backwards. Ekajra glanced down at his feet for a moment, and then jumped backwards.

Kage began to fall forward as Ekajra slid to a stop. He was unable to regain his balance in time to stop Ekajra, who was now running towards him. He punched Kage in the face, and Kage was knocked up into the air. He flew backwards and slammed back to the sandy desert floor, sliding almost all the way to the water’s edge.

Ekajra looked at his fist. “Hmm, a bit stronger than I was expecting. Oh well, works for me.”

Kage stood up and spat. “Pff, it was a lucky shot. It won’t happen again.” Kage charged Ekajra, and both of them swung at the same time. Ekajra’s knife slide between Kage’s tri-claws. Kage quickly withdrew them, and Ekajra last his balance, falling forward as Kage grabbed his arm, spinning him around and slamming him to the ground.

Ekajra used the momentum of his spiral to his advantage and swung his leg around, kicking Kage in the face. Kage dropped Ekajra, stumbling back. Ekajra, however, had little time to recover, quickly rolling to the side in order to dodge Kage’s fist as it slammed into the ground.

Kage stood up, drawings his blades again and running towards Ekajra. Ekajra rolled back and sprang forward off the ground, his feet slamming into Kage’s chest. He was knocked back, yet otherwise seemed relatively unfazed. Before he could counter, Ekajra was on his feet and running towards him. Ekajra made a series of quick thrusts at Kage before slashing him across the chest. His knife tore through Kage’s robe, but all it hit was metal. Kage knocked Ekajra away, and the two stood there for a moment.

“So, let me guess… more improvements?” Ekajra asked in a tone of disbelief and annoyance.

“Why, of course. I realized my chest and center were vulnerable to attack. So I had this done,” Kage said as he pulled off his cloak, throwing it to a nearby soldier. Glistening metal, apart from a fresh scratch, covered Kage’s chest, stretching downward into and arch around his midsection. It stretched over and connected to his now cybernetic left shoulder, and Ekajra could tell it wrapped around his back as well. “This isn’t a full cybernetic replacement, so it’s really more of a permanent armor,” Kage said, patting his chest-plate. “But it has a few features you might get to see later… if you survive that long, that is.”

“Well then, I look forward to it,” Ekajra said with a smirk. He ran towards Kage and swung a punch at his face. Kage blocked it and made his own assault. Ekajra had predicted it, however, and immediately brought his knee up into Kage’s stomach. “That new armor of yours doesn’t completely protect you.”

Kage stumbled back, the wind knocked out of him. “You analyzed my armor and found a weak spot,” Kage said, gasping slightly. “Impressive.”

“Yeah, well, you kinda left a big opening buddy,” Ekajra muttered. Kage didn’t notice.

“I guess I’ll just have to not let you get that close again,” Kage said as part of his upper-right arm sunk in and slid back into his arm. He put his hand to the hole, and his sword shot out into it as the panel slid back into place. Simultaneously, a metal bar slid out of his left shoulder, turned into a circular hinge at the elbow, and continued to his hand where it fanned out over the back of his hand. Kage activated his blade as circular bands extended from the bar around his lower arm.

Ekajra had literally slammed his fist into his palm. “Honestly… more? I mean, yeah, I guess I am talking to a Dark Legion member, but still, this is just crazy!” Ekajra said as he made random movements and gesticulations at Kage’s arm.

“Like I said, I come prepared!” Kage yelled as he ran towards Ekajra, twirling his sword around in his hand. He made a diagonal slash, which Ekajra dodged. He made a move for a counter-attack, but Kage brought his other arm down to block it. He spun around and pulled his arm back quickly, elbowing Ekajra in the stomach. He then spun back around, slashing at Ekajra as he did so. Ekajra bent his body back, and Kage’s blade missed him by the slightest, its heat singing his fur.

Ekajra took advantage of the moment and threw a quick series of punches at Kage before he went back on the defensive. Kage came spinning around, slashing wildly this way and that with incredible speed. Ekajra managed to stay ahead of Kage, but it was hard to move in the sand. Kage continued his relentless assault, and Ekajra couldn’t find on opening.

Kage began to speed up even more, and all Ekajra could do was keep dodging, jumping back farther and farther. He felt a presence behind him, but ignored it, focusing on the crazed cybernetic echidna rapidly coming at him with a high-powered laser blade. He kept backing up, the presence getting closer, until he felt stone against the backs of his legs. Kage paused for a moment, then made a quick thrust with his sword.

Ekajra bent backwards, and fell over the pillar behind him. He landed on his back, but got up quickly, holding on to the pillar. He strained against it, and managed to slowly pull it out of the ground. He held it over his head, then spun in a small circle, throwing the pillar forward.

Kage merely stood there, watching as the pillar flew. Then, with incredible speed, he brought his sword straight up, seconds before the pillar hit him. The sword slashed straight through the rock pillar, and the two halves fell behind him, crumbling as they crashed into the dust. A giant cloud of sand and dust came up as Kage smirked. “Hmph, if you want any hope of surviving, you’ll want to do better than that, traitor!”


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