Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Finnegan Sue was a pit fighter.

She wrapped leather around her knuckles, mindful of her nails, and ran her sharpened tongue around her poisonous needled mouth. She sung a tune while she prepped. Her horrible lisp made a mockery of the lyrics she whispered to herself as the counter in the top left of her field of vision counted down to Go Time.

Outside, the announcer’s spiel was cresting.

Too many chapters of her life were prefaced with the phrase “…and in this corner.”

Before tonight, Finnegan Sue had never been a main event.

Two kinds of fighters got headlined:

There were connected fighters with flashy, expensive augmentations entered into and bred for the top tiers. They had short careers. They had nowhere to fall to. Every fight was to the death up there and political maneuvering shed as much blood off the arena floor as on it.

And then there were fighters like Finnegan Sue. Heavy with scars, right moments and hundredth-of-a-second survivals. Long, unexceptional careers of death. Fights to first blood, fights to humiliation, fights to first break, and sometimes, fights to the death. The path of their careers was a slow, steady incline.

Finnegan Sue was nearing the end of her career. A win at this level as an independent and she could retire. All she had to do was kill this next fighter.

Sue checked the levels of her speed. She stretched the armoured tendons in her wide neck. The drugs were coursing through her now just as sure as they were coursing through her opponent.

The announcer was getting around to it.

“…the Russian ripcord, winter’s dog of war, the Siberian she-devil, the gutpunch from the gulag, Moscow’s murdering Maria, I give you….FINNEGAN SUE!!”

The crowd went wild and the doors opened.

Finnegan Sue flexed, breathed in, and ran to the light. She leapt into the arena in a forward roll that ended in a kneeling crouch with her nails fanned to hide her face.

After a respectful pause, she stood up straight, cueing the announcer to get on with it.

“And in THIS corner….” he started rattling on about the person Sue had to kill.

She tried to tune out what the announcer said at this point in every match. She liked seeing her opponent with fresh eyes. She had heard hints that her opponent had started out as a male and was not Free. He was a German.

For no reason at all, Sue thought of her long-dead mother. It was surprising and unsettling to think such a thought before a fight.

Sue hoped it wasn’t an omen.

The doors of the other side of the arena opened.

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