The room was filled with this tension that seemed to make the air heavy, each breath filled her lungs with this weight. Her heart beat slow and steady, despite the impending battle before her.
She wondered if the calm came from knowing this could be her moment. The one she had longed for so desperately as a child, fighting tooth and nail for mere survival. This could be the moment she finally saw him, fell into his embrace and let him whisk her away.
After all these years constantly fighting a battle she would never truly be able to win, this could be the moment she finally glimpsed her savior.
Her eyes searched Aleksandr.
She had managed to best him as a child, a desperate animal in a cage willing to do anything and everything possible to free itself. She was as much that little girl today as she was then, and the need to escape was just as critical.
Remaining at Refuge was not an option, succumbing to the torturous routine and demands of Aleksandr once again would be a fate worth than anything else she could imagine. Whether she won or lost, she would not stay here, she told herself.
Swallowing hard, she squared her shoulders and widened her stance. Aleksandr was giddy, like a child on Christmas morning unable to wait for his parents to come downstairs before he started tearing through the decorative papers of his gifts. His obsession with her was evident, and it was his weakness.
Time was everything, she reminded herself.
Hunter was slightly injured. He seemed to limp favouring his left leg, and she could tell by the way he had hunched over when he began to walk away from her, there was damage to his ribs. The car was not far from here, it would take her less than ten minutes to reach it, but she was in top physical health.
With his slow and struggled stride, it would take him at least twice that amount of time. Not to mention he would have to search, the exact location of the vehicle unknown to him.
She estimated he would be in the car in around 30 minutes. She had to make her fight with Aleksandr last at least that long.
The orphans at Refuge were intrigued. Even those with the strongest willpower would abandon their search for Hunter to see a fight between Aleksandr and the one who had held the rank of number one for so long. He would be able to get to the car with minimal obstacles.
Aleksandr smirked at her. “There was a small amount of doubt that abducting that boy would be enough to bring you back here. I was sure you would put in the effort to rescue him back in America, but to think you would come all this way, back to Refuge. There were doubts. I must say I am thrilled.” He rubbed at his bare knuckles as he looked at her. “You are taking this whole redemption thing rather seriously… to risk your life to save someone who means so little.”
She said nothing.
Raising a brow at her, he took a step forward. He was sure to leave his braced knee behind him as he slowly raised his fists.
The challenge was out there, and he waited for her to accept it. There was none here in Refuge that would rush into combat against Aleksandr. His very voice made most shutter with fear as they wondered their fate.
She already knew her fate, and she welcomed it as she rushed towards him.
Her fist strike missed, his head dropping forward and rotating around her swinging fist. She effortlessly dodged his counter, dropping her arms down to block the blow aimed at her abdomen. Kicking her foot out, she tried to connect with his knee.
Despite his obvious handicap, he was fast. He was out of the way of her foot quickly, his own foot coming up in an effort to hook hers and throw her off-balance.
She was ready.
Laughing, he watched her take a few steps back. They eyes one another like wild beasts fighting to the death. “Glad to see all my efforts were wasted over the years of your absence.”
She lifted her fists to him.
He took two slow steps forward before he flew across the gap between them. Her hand caught his fist, throwing it back before she curved her belly away from him, narrowly avoiding another swing. Kicking at his shin, he stepped back and she saw her opportunity. Bringing her hands up, she slammed her palms hard into his chest before throwing her fist into his jaw.
It connected and Aleksandr took a stumbled step back.
An audible gasp could be heard echoing throughout the room. Their spectators were in awe, suddenly aware of her rank and why he had been so unwilling to retire it to another.
Spitting on the ground beside them, he smiled at her. “Excellent.” Looking back towards the darkness, he called for the one he knew would be waiting there. “Twee.”
A machete flew through the air towards them and Aleksandr caught the handle. No sooner had he caught it, the blade left his hand and shimmered in the light as it flipped through the air towards her. Catching it, she watched as he caught an identical blade.
She had landed the first blow and raised the stakes. Aleksandr was a man who admired weaponry, and he favoured the blade. She would have to tread carefully here. In her mind she was counting, visualizing where Hunter was as he made his way through Refuge towards the car.
Holding the handle, she swung it around several times. She would wait for him to make the first mood. He was more of a threat to her now, and she still had twenty-six minutes to kill.
Aleksandr pressed the tip of the blade to the cement ground, drawing a slow circle around himself as the sound sang through the room.
She readied herself.
Rushing towards her, the blade swiped through the air. She could feel the blade slice through the air as it swiped so close to her cheek she could almost feel the sting of it. Her own blade shot out, aimed at his gut. His knee shot up, the blade sparking against the metal of his brace as he swiped the blade again.
It ripped through the thin fabric of her shirt across her chest. She didn’t feel the air kiss her hot flesh, knowing it hadn’t gotten her skin. She didn’t retreat, instead, she pushed forward.
Aleksandr curved his head back at the sharp edge of her blade skimmed the air before his neck and chin. His blade coming down to stop hers.
There was a flurry of sparks as their blades hit one another.
She stepped on his blade as it hit the floor.
Lightning cracked behind her eye as his fist connected with her cheekbone. The pain was electrifying. Another fist hit her hard in her abdomen, knocking her back off his blade.
Bringing the blade up, it cut through the expensive leather of his knee brace. The brace opened slightly, hanging as it was still held together by the two straps below his knee.
His eyes flashed angry for a moment before they lighted with excitement. “This. This is what I have been waiting for!” He undid the two remaining leather straps and let the brace fall to the floor. Putting his weight in his bad knee, he tested it. Accepting it’s strength, he tossed the blade from hand to hand.