The Alpha Fights
"Dalton! Dalton!" Logan called out, wishing his exoskeleton would move a bit faster. It desperately needed a tune up, but he had been busy over the last week trying to get more good publicity for the transgenic cause. "I've been here for fifteen minutes and I haven't seen anyone around! Where is everyone?"
Logan was not as observant as the younger transgenics that inhabited Terminal City, but he was pretty sure Dalton flinched a little before he spoke.
"You didn't know about the fights?" he asked, continuing to walk out of their command building and into the slightly cleaner streets. Logan noticed that TC was starting to look more like a city and less like a dump with every passing visit, but his mind was quick to catch on the end of Dalton's sentence.
"Fights? What fights?" Logan asked, his mind instantly going towards several worse case scenarios. Had the rioting masses gotten through the gates? Were the transhumans trying to take control from Max and the other X-series? Was Max hurt?
"Relax," Dalton muttered, keeping his head down. Logan's head was still spinning. "We organized it; we're calling them the Alpha Fights." Logan was about to open his mouth and ask what 'alpha fights' were, but Dalton, like all transgenics, was quick on the draw.
"We're here, there's really no use explaining, you'll see."
With that, Dalton opened a set of double doors Logan had never entered before, and waved the older man ahead of him.
The building was not extremely different from the other buildings of Terminal City. It was dirty, run down, and was missing a couple places in the ceiling that showed there was another floor above. However, as Logan walked further into the building, two things became very apparent. The first was that almost the entire population of Terminal City was comfortably within the walls of this building, and the second was that everyone was gathered around a large, railed, cut out section of the floor that looked down onto the bottom level of the building.
Looking around, Logan noticed that he lost track of Dalton among the crowd, but could vaguely see the young black woman he knew to be Max's best friend and made a beeline for her.
"Cindy?" he asked once he was close enough for her to hear, and was surprised when she wheeled around and had a large sum of money clenched in her hands.
"Logan! Whatchu doin' here?" she asked, quickly turned back to face out over the railing.
Logan was quick to grab a spot beside her, though the railing space was becoming cramped very quickly. From his spot he could see Mole standing on the bottom floor on top of thin blue mats that had been lined up together. The space gave him a quick flash back to high school gym class on wrestling days, but he turned his attention back to Cindy.
"What's going on here?", were the first words out of his mouth, closely followed by, "Where's Max?"
"Boo's gettin' ready for her match!" Cindy said, the black afro puffs that made her hair bounced slightly as she turned to face him. He really wanted to warn her that it was probably unsafe to learn her hip against the railing, it didn't exactly look stable, but she seemed to be on a verbal roll and he was not a fan of being out of the loop. "You showed up at a good time," she continued, waving the large stack of bills in her hand vaguely to the floor below. "We're on the final leg of the matches, you wanna place a bet?"
Still confused, Logan could feel his brows draw together. "Place a bet on what?" he asked, knowing his voice was slightly higher than he may have liked it to be. "What are these matches? Why is Max in one? What is going on here?"
"We're proving our dominance to each other and solidifying the ranks."
Logan almost jumped out of his skin. The voice was deep, booming, and came from right behind him. Swinging around, he came to meet a wide expanse of red cotton stretched over a large chest, broad shoulders, and a thick neck. He didn't need to look up to know who he was talking to, since Cindy's voice called out "Zane!" in a chastising manner, and he had the instant feeling his startled state would be made fun of later by transgenics that were not a fan of him for weeks to come. When Logan did feel collected enough to look up at the taller man, he saw that the smile he wore was surrounded by blonde stubble, and the tilt it was held in was indulgent.
"You must be Maxie's friend, the journalist." he said, pulling his hand from his jean pocket and offering it to Logan. His arms were corded with muscle, instantly reminding Logan that he was not the biggest man around here, exoskeleton provided super strength or not. He took his hand amicably, and gave him a firm grip.
"My names Logan," he said, offering a small smile. "You must be one of Max's brothers. Zane, Cindy said?"
"You got me." Zane said, his pearly whites making an appearance. He nodded his head towards what Logan could only assume was being used as an arena, and gave a short chuckle. "And Cindy was right, you are just in time."
Logan turned around again to see that Mole was calling everyone's attention by raising a hand in the air. A lull rolled through the room, all the talking ceasing and all movement stopping. Hundreds of eyes turned to the desert model transgenic, and when he was sure everyone was listening to him, he began to speak.
"This past week has been very eventful, if not strenuous," he began, the cigar he was known for temporarily absent from his mouth. "We've done a lot of work setting up the ranks of both transhumans and X-Series, and it will end with this final battle for the positions of our Commanding Officer and Second." At this point, Mole paused and let the whispers travel through the crowd. Logan didn't bother listening to the whispers, he was too busy being shocked that Mole was still talking and hadn't grunted or lit up another cigar yet. "With the end of this fight, we will all band together under the command and guidance of the winner, and when the winner is busy, the loser, who will become the second, will act in their stead. These two have been chosen for these positions because they are the most alpha of all the X-Series, the strongest, quickest, and smartest. This fight will be adhered to by all, as it is being witnessed by all. Our first contender is our Alpha male," and here, Logan noticed that Mole was actually smirking, "Manticore's perfect solider and our very own Princess, Alec McDowell, X5-494!"
At Mole's proclamation, the entire building erupted in cheers. Logan could barely hear his own thoughts as Alec strode onto the mats from his left, his usual swagger present in every step. He wore the same shorts he did during his cage fighting stage, as well as several bruises on his legs, chest and arms. He struck his fist into the air three times, sending the crowd wild, cracked his neck, and then blew a kiss directly to Cindy. She laughed and gave him the finger.
"Our second contender," Mole began, and the building was instantly silent again. The change almost threw Logan off balance. "is our Alpha female. She outsmarted every other female in this very arena, and threw Manticore for a spin at the age of ten. At one point we called her a traitor, at another a fool, but now we know her for the hard-ass bitch of a leader she can be. Fighting for the number one spot, we have the very bane of all our enemies existence, Maxine Guevara, X5-452!"
If the crowd screamed louder for Max, Logan would never know. The booming chant of "452! 452!" coming from Zane behind him, Cindy beside him, and throughout the warehouse turned gym turned arena was just as deafening as it had been for Alec, but three seconds into the screaming Logan saw her, and was instantly drawn in.
He had always thought of Max as beautiful, but he didn't remember when he had forgotten how purely sensual she could appear. Her hips swayed as she stepped onto the mats from his right, feet and knuckles covered in white tape, shorts black and tight, sports bra to match, and her long dark hair swinging in a high ponytail. Her shins and legs were also bruised, but her olive skin almost hid them, though it did nothing for her purple hip, scratched back, and split lip. But still she smiled, rolled her shoulders, and placed her feet about shoulders width apart. It was when she cocked her hip to the side and crossed her arms that Mole began to speak again, his voice commanding silence among the ranks instantly.
"This fight will follow the rules set out for all of the previous fights, and will be ended when one of you calls for mercy. Understood?"
"Understood." Alec and Max spoke the word together, their voices combining and bouncing off of the walls around them.
When Mole took two steps back, removing himself from the thin blue mats and placing himself on the cold, grey concrete floor, Logan recognized the waves of energy that rolled through the room. Before the pulse, he was never a sports fanatic, but he had gone to a few sporting events. It was from those times that he recognized the anticipation and excitement that saturated the air around him.
Then they began.
He didn't hear Mole say the words, instead he saw the way the muscles in Alec's chest and arms tensed, saw the way Max shifted her weight to her back foot. The electricity flowing from one person to another energized him, raised his blood pressure and testosterone, and kept his eyes and mind on the two people in the middle of the room.
Max was the first to attack, one punch, then two, a kick, all blocked, but he was proud. Max always made the first move, always aimed to come out on top. Alec attacked back, two kicks, step the right, punch. Max blocked, they sprung apart, and began to circle each other.
As much as Logan enjoyed writing, reporting, investigating, and journalism in general, he had never really paid attention to all of the articles and documentaries on animals. He was more of a change seeking man; he went after problems and happenings in his environment, and he made his home better for everyone he shared it with. In this moment, he wished he had paid attention to the animal world outside of his two-legged perspective. The fluidity that the two transgenics moved with was not human in the least. They were on two legs, but the way they purposefully placed the balls of their feet on the mat, the way they twisted and repositioned legs, knees and hips in order to keep their circling synchronized, steady and natural looking was almost surreal.
The iron railing cutting into his palms was nothing compared to the shock of when they jumped at each other, limb hitting limb.
They blurred and blurred until Alec had Max on the mat. She was face down, right arm twisted and held behind her back, left stretched out and held down. Alec had his knee in the middle of her back, but then her right leg was twisting and lifting, and catching Alec in the throat. He was thrown off and she rolled, sprung, and then they were at it again, blurring around the mat.
Logan wasn't aware how long the fighting went on. They pinned each other several times, but the pinned always found a way out, and then away they went again. Throughout it all everyone was silent. The only noise in the entire building was the sound of flesh hitting flesh, grunts, groans, and the literal growls coming from below. It wasn't until Alec grabbed both of Max's forearms, twisted, and as if she was nothing more than a feather filled pillow, threw her. Max twisted and turned, and hit the concrete pillar on her hands and knees, upside down facing the blue mats. There was a gasp that flew through the crowd as Max curled in on herself, fell to the floor, and landed on her feet in a low crouch. Slowly, she raised her head, dark hair falling around her face, left arm stretching out in front of her, fingers gripping concrete, and in that moment, Logan saw the animal in her. The lion, panther, jungle cat, whatever it was, it was there. Alec turned to fully face her, feet shoulder width apart, back straight, head high, but Logan noticed his hands. His fingers uncurled from their previously clenched state, straightened, and then flexed. In his mind's eye they were claw tipped paws, and suddenly he saw the lion, panther, jungle cat, whatever it was, in him as well.
When they flew at each other, the fight was quick. Somehow, he and the crowd knew this was the end, and before he could blink, Alec was on his back. Max straddled him, left hand holding his wrist to the mat, right thumb directly over his Adam's apple, hand gripping his throat, teeth bared and a mere inch from said throat. Both transgenics were breathing heavily, but still no one in the crowed made a noise, waiting for the inevitable.
Logan watched Alec breathe, his mouth tilting up in his trademark smirk. "Hey, Maxie?" he said, voice low, breathy, almost like a purr.
"Yeah?" was all she replied, that in itself being more of a pant than a word.
The noise that erupted above the two transgenics, around Logan, was louder than the cheers the crowd had bestowed the fighters in the beginning. Feet stomped, hands clapped, and voices cheered as Max pulled herself up from Alec, stood, and held out a hand to him. He took it, his larger hand almost swallowing hers, and stood. Their eyes never broke contact.
The next several minutes were a blur for Logan. The noise was immense, and suddenly he started to feel claustrophobic, almost as if the crowd was too much. Too much stomping, too much clapping, too many cheers of "Max! Max!" and too many cheers of "Alec! Alec!".
Turning, he sighted the door, and left.
I'm not sure how many people are still reading in this domain, but if there is anyone, I'm thinking about making more shorts like this into a cohesive, eventually MA, story. Review if you liked it.