By popular demand, here is the follow up to ‘How About A Kiss Instead?’, Ethan and Savannah’s first attempt to put their Earthguard training to the test. I hope you like it.
Neither opponent budged an inch as Ethan and Savannah sped towards them. Ethan pulled up two yards short of the taller man, eyes glancing to his right to see Savannah’s body launch feet first into the air. He backed up two steps to avoid the advancing Romanian and watch his partner’s feet thump into Black T-shirt’s chest, toppling his superior build like a solid wall struck by a wrecking ball. Ethan swayed back a few inches allowing gnarled knuckles to swing past his face so close he felt the draught from the tailwind. He sensed, rather than knew, that Savannah was in control of her own situation and forced his mind to focus solely on Tall Guy. This was the hardest part for him: letting go of raw emotion and remaining absolutely calm, letting awareness and clear thinking make the instantaneous decisions.
Time didn’t slow, he knew this, yet he watched the thickset arm seemingly take an age to pass his face and bring the exposed side of the Romanian’s upper body into view. Ethan twisted at the hips, lowered his left hand, curled and swung it, using the return swivel of his body to add might to the blow. He drove his fist into ribs which he felt crack on impact. A deep grunt accompanied an uninterpretable expletive and a huge swipe from Tall Guy’s other arm, which Ethan blocked with his raised right forearm.
“You hit like girl,” spat the Romanian. But the face scrunched tight in pain clearly exuded surprise at Ethan’s fighting prowess. Ethan noted his own surprise at the benefit of lack of emotion during combat for the very first time. Raw emotion and instinct had taken a back seat. He had options and control of the situation. Sure, the training techniques were useful: simple, straightforward, no-nonsense attacks and defences that got the job done fast and clean. But it was the clear mindset that counted most. Clarity made the techniques easy to apply.
A sweaty forehead careered towards Ethan’s face. He swayed back again to avoid the flat bone’s contact with his nose, slapping his hands behind Tall Guy’s head, pushing him down and driving a knee up into his face. More bone acquiesced audibly on contact, and it wasn’t Ethan’s knee.
Ethan stepped back allowing his opponent the chance to give up. There was nothing exhilarating or challenging about hacking down a dying tree. As a bloody face with a crooked nose glared at him, Ethan’s concentration was distracted by a recovered Black T-shirt who was trading blows with Savannah. The contest looked even with Savannah landing kicks and punches with impressive speed while her adversary soaked it up and retaliated with heavier punches to her body. He could help, but he knew she wouldn’t thank him.
Ethan returned his attention to Tall Guy, who rather than giving up was regarding Ethan with damp and shiny eyes, thin lips stretched tight to reveal bloody red teeth. Nostrils flared with every rapid exhalation. The Romanian recovered his breath and seemed to consider his next move. It was a look that wished Ethan dead; a look of abject hatred. Ethan waited, keeping Savannah in the periphery of his vision and his thoughts. Ethan raised his hands as the man hurtled forwards, closing the short distance between them. Perfect focus returned.
Ethan turned his foot sideways and swung his leg low at a fast approaching and rising knee. A louder crack and simultaneous holler of agony indicated serious damage and the fight well and truly over. Tall Guy fell to the mat gripping his deformed knee joint. Ethan approached and looked into defeated eyes before dashing to check on his partner.
The heavier Romanian had driven Savannah back against the mirrored wall. Ethan stood to one side, knowing how easy it would be for him to end the contest with his assistance. He searched Savannah’s face for signs of panic. There were none, but the sweeping blows from Black T-shirt relentlessly pounded into sides protected by her dropped arms. He was strong, fit and determined.
“You are next,” he said without looking at Ethan.
Ethan raised his eyebrows questioningly at Savannah when she caught his gaze. She winked back at him. What the …?
“I wanted you to see this, Justice,” she said, thrusting her palms into Black T-shirt’s chest, pushing him a couple of feet back.
Black T-shirt smirked. “Now you pay, pretty one.” He advanced, jaws clenched, fists raised and ready to finish the job.
Like a ballerina with an aggression disorder, Savannah’s leg rose and snapped straight, her bare heel smashing beneath Black T-shirt’s chin. His eyes glazed over and his legs gave out, no time to register the infinitesimal moment of astonishment that must have crossed his mind. If it had been a boxing match, the medics would have been rushing in. No wail of ambulances here, just a low moan from the mat where Tall Guy hugged his broken knee joint with both hands.
She looked down at the unconscious heap before smiling at Ethan. “Not bad, eh?”
Ethan was impressed but also felt slightly foolish for having doubted her ability. “You waited for me to finish, just so you could show me that?”
“No. I wanted to get some proper practice. I could have taken him out many times over, but what’s the point if you can’t try out new techniques? We might not get many opportunities to test our skills against real opponents.”
“Campbell always says to take them out as quickly as possible. What if I’d lost my fight and you’d been faced with two crazy thugs?”
“I need a doctor,” groaned Tall Guy.
Savannah ignored the interruption. “I never doubted you for a second. You’re the only one that ever doubts your abilities.”
She was right. As always. But this time Ethan hadn’t doubted his ability and given in to instinct. This time he hadn’t even broken into a sweat or felt the ever familiar rush of adrenaline that had allowed him to survive on numerous occasions. What are we becoming?
“I reckon I could have taken them both,” added Savannah.
Ethan didn’t doubt it but couldn’t help thinking that she had enjoyed the experience more than was perfectly healthy. Certainly more than he had. Maybe that’s what it took. She was already more like Agent Johnson than he would ever be. It was the business they were now in: survival and the dispensing of death and pain. Not long ago she would have run from the threat of a verbal confrontation, let alone physical violence. In front of Ethan, arms planted on her sides, lips spread in the beautiful smile of an avenging angel, she looked like she was born to fight to the death.
“What’s up?” she asked, raising a hand and stroking Ethan’s cheek.
“Just hoping that I don’t ever make you mad.”
Savannah’s smile grew and her eyes softened. “I could never hurt you, silly.” She stepped forwards and kissed his lips. “Let’s grab some food, I’m famished.”
As they passed Tall Guy on the way to the intercom, the prone figure rolled away from Savannah’s reach. As crazy as the evasive manoeuvre looked, Ethan didn’t blame him. As Ethan reached for the intercom, the lift doors parted to reveal a slow-clapping Campbell.
“Not bad,” said their trainer. “Not bad at all.”
What other training do you think Ethan and Savannah need before book #4?
Image credit: © Helder Sousa – Fotolia.com