Today we continue with part ten of book 4. Hope you enjoy!
Briiana strolled into the city’s second largest and newest black market, one of many that sprang up with the rest of the chaos. It was her first IN-COG-NITO mission. Gone was the comfort of her uniform and the company of her fellow Champions. She chose the black-market for two simple reasons; one was that it seemed like an obvious place to find a thug or two and secondly, in all the craziness of the last few weeks she had completely forgotten her 18th birthday. “Why not kill two birds with one Leopard punch, right?” she thought to herself. As she strolled along the alleyway eating a chocolate-mint ice cream cone (the only kind she will eat) scanning the makeshift stalls she was drawn to collection of weapons splayed out on some overturned boxes. For a minute or so she was unimpressed, then just as she was about to walk away, she spotted a tiny tactical knife, curved, with no handle but a space for a knuckle.
“Oh, you noticed that little guy, huh?” the stocky, bald owner remarked, “I only got a few of them in, and this is the last one. It’s insane how much damage something so small can do – kind of like you I would guess! You can either take care of yourself or your just plain nuts, young girl like you walking around here by yourself.”
Briiana looked up at the dishevelled stall owner. He was a grizzled mess of a man who looked like he had seen a battle or two in his time yet had softness in his eyes that reminded her of her father. To get what she wanted, and at the right price, she knew that batting her eyes at him wasn’t going to work so she played it cool. She shrugged and looked away at something else to appear uninterested, “It’s alright, but the knuckle hole is way too big, it’ll break my finger, and then I’d have to break yours.”
His booming laugh earned uneasy glances from those passing by, “Ah ha ha ha!! I think I like you little girl! Come on I will give you a good price because of that!”
“Or is it because of a lack of quality in your products?” she asked impertinently. They both knew this wasn’t the case; otherwise she wouldn’t have been standing at his booth. Truthfully, he seemed like he was one of the most honest dealers in the alley and didn’t seem to take any crap from anyone. Briiana figured he had some sort of military and mercenary back ground and she liked that about him.
“Look, you’d be awesome with this knife, so I’ll throw in some Para cord to wrap around that part so it’s snug on your little fingers. By the way I am Silas” said the man with a have curled smile.
“Hmmmm…” she protested as she reached for the knife. As her fingertips made contact with the cold steel, another hand brusquely grabbed for it. She pinned the hand and spun around landing a backfist on the side of the man’s jaw. The man didn’t flinch; he just smiled down at her. Briiana found herself catching her breath as she saw the man for the first time. His muscular frame, long blonde hair, and piercing blue eyes were mesmerizing and his eerie, calm demeanor intrigued her. Between her conversation with the dealer and her ice cream, she hadn’t noticed this stranger noticing her, doubling back when he had been walking past. He had gone there to “meet” someone about a man, but after he had taken care of him he decided that he may as well shop while he was there.
“Hey Silas,” the man gave her an appraising glance then appeared to dismiss her, “I need another one of these tactical knives, three boxes of ammo and a loop of wood-cutting wire.”
“You got it, Mike. Finally a serious buyer who doesn’t mess around.” He raised both eyebrows at Briiana before turning to some boxes, muttering about how Mike goes through that wire faster than someone who actually uses it for wood.
“Hey! I was going to buy that knife before you pushed in and grabbed it! Not cool!” Briiana yelled at him.
He laughed: “Sounds like you were wasting his time. Let me guess; you were trying to haggle so you could afford it with your babysitting money?”
She felt her signature rage boil up and she dropped what remained of her ice cream cone. Mike only had time to register the fire in her eyes before he saw her fist strike headed his way. He was barely able to dodge it but felt the breeze from its speed and caught a glimpse of the paw-style fist.
“Leopard style, huh? You know, Wing Chun would look a lot better on you.” He teased.
“Oh, I know Wing Chun as well.” She struck out with her back elbow, aiming for his jaw. He managed to block her strike, but instantly she came back with another, and another, until they were fighting close-quarters with strike after strike. Every block was followed immediately by another strike from Briiana, with an inhuman energy. Mike couldn’t keep blocking forever, so he struck back several times. She blocked as well as evaded, using her speed and agility. Both came to the realization that they weren’t striking with full force, and this fight between them had actually become a beautiful dance between their competing styles. Their eyes were locked the entire time. As much as Briiana wanted to hit this stranger for taking the knife, she was exhilarated by the challenge he was posing her, and an attraction she hadn’t felt before was building, causing her to hold back a bit on knocking his teeth out.
She brought up her right knee in a forward strike, but Mike somehow caught her thigh with his massive hands and pulled her close. He could smell the chocolate-mint on her breath and for some reason wanted to kiss her. “Tell me your name, and maybe I’ll let go.” Mike almost whispered, not really wanting to let go, not really sure about what he was doing.
“Briiana” she responded. She didn’t mind telling him her name, but she was confused by her conflicting desires for him to kiss her and to finally land a hit. As their faces slowly gravitated towards each other, the heat they felt coming off of each other’s skin increased adding to the adrenaline laced confusion then they heard the undeniable sound of a shotgun being cocked behind them.
“Mike! What the hell?” Silas yelled, “Whatever you clowns are up to, I don’t need it in front of my wares. Kill each other in a different alley and the winner can buy the stupid knife.” Even at his advanced age, he was not to be messed with.
“You know what?” Mike said in a low voice, never breaking eye contact with Briiana, “I’ll still buy it, but give it to Leopard fist here so she doesn’t have to dip into her ice cream budget.”
The intensity of the moment may have been broken, but as they slowly came apart, their heart rates didn’t slow down and they continued to lock eyes until Mike reached into his pocket for some crumpled, dirty bills and slowly placed them on the counter in front of Silas, who lowered the gun and shook his head with a sigh. “Whatever, dude. Here’s the bag, everything is in there, do what you want with it.”
Mike took out the knife (now sheathed) and stepped forward to take her right hand. He placed it in her hand, closing her fingers around the black canvas. Both of their hands lingered like that for what seemed twice as long as it really was and a magnetic pull was once again drawing them intimately close, but Mike was already late. “Well Briiana, who knows? Maybe next time we run into each other you’ll be using this knife on me. Or rather, trying to.” His eyes laughed more than his mouth did, but she just stared after him as he turned and walked away, not looking back.
For once in her life she was speechless. She shouldn’t have accepted the knife from a stranger, yet she did. It was only then that she noticed the chain swinging from his belt loop, and realized that he’d had a gun. Briiana remembered an old adage she had heard, something about bringing a knife to a gun fight and smiled to herself.
“Hey!” Silas yelled again, snapping her out of her reverie, “Do you want anything else or can I clean up that ice cream you’re stepping in? You are taking up valuable space girl?” Whatever had just occurred between them, he didn’t want any part of it, and their strange, sexy fighting had scared away other customers.
Flustered, she muttered: “Umm, no thank you Silas, I have to get on with my day. I have to…never mind” and ran off in the opposite direction of Mike. She was annoyed to realize her cheeks had been flushed for a while even after the fight. But then again, so were his…
(To be continued…)
That’s it for now! The next story will be published soon. We will keep posting stories every week leading up to the anticipated Project-X announcement.
If you’re interested in reading the individual background life summaries or viewing updated artwork of our Champions and Villains, then please follow the links here: Champions and Villains. The main story that ties all the characters together in Project-X will be updated at the following link as stories are published: Story-line.
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DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. NAMES, CHARACTERS, BUSINESSES, PLACES, EVENTS, AND INCIDENTS ARE EITHER THE PRODUCTS OF THE AUTHOR’S IMAGINATION OR USED IN A FICTITIOUS MANNER. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ACTUAL PERSONS, LIVING OR DEAD, OR ACTUAL EVENTS IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL.