37

“You know, we could try sparring as well.” Cinder said.

“No, we couldn’t, I would stab you,” Gaslight replied.

The two of them were in an observation room; that afforded a good view of the practice rooms. Using the same clear metal of the exterior of the skyscraper for one of the walls, Shatter and Koi could be watched as they pounded the hell out of each other. The room was empty except for several monitors to give multiple angles of the action, and auditorium style seating.

It was hard to tell who was winning. Shatter’s exterior was covered in cracks, bits of him had flaked off, and all of his fingers were in pieces. None of that even slowed him down. He could remain in top fighting form until he couldn’t, based on how much power he had.

Koi was different she was durable by human standards, but not by the standards Shatter had been built. She was taking damage from every strike she landed. Unlike Shatter she healed that damage within minutes, so she was alternating between extremely aggressive and defensive.

Of course, while Shatter was wearing his injuries as a badge of pride, an image that no matter what was done to him he could still keep going. Gaslight who was the most image oriented of the team knew how well this would treat him. Koi wasn’t visibly injured, except for some blood on her chin were she had split her lip. Most of her issues were impact related.

“Koi is going to win isn’t she?” Cinder asked.

“Yeah, maybe another ten minutes. Fifteen at best.” Gaslight replied.

“How much longer?” Cinder asked.

“I just answered that,” Gaslight said, looking over at Cinder. He was watching much more intently than his normal cavalier attitude allowed for.

“How much longer will Koi be able to beat Shatter?” Cinder replied not looking away from the fight.

“A couple more months before he can win with any regularity. They will probably be about even for another three or four. Then yeah, she won’t be able to win anymore.” Gaslight said.

“Is that going to happen to me too?” Cinder asked. Gaslight looked at him curiously. “Koi is a B+ ranked fighter; The only A-ranked people with strength as their only power are like Ares. There for different reasons. There is no one on the Ultra list with strength as their primary attribute.”

“You power isn’t strength; you have one of the most versatile powers out there,” Gaslight said. “What brought this on, you’re more introspective than normal.”

“You killed Jack.”

“No, I didn’t.” Gaslight protested, but Cinder cut her off.

“You might not have landed the final blow but you killed him. Koi got taken out in the lobby; Shatter was locked in the panic room, and I wasn’t even allowed in the building. Koi is a B+ fighter who got taken out instantly, and I wasn’t allowed in the building.” Cinder stopped talking, possibly to give Gaslight an opportunity to say something. She didn’t take it.

“I’m not stupid you know, I do get how strong my powers can be. I also know how easy it is to kill someone, it’s not like the movies. If I pump a room full of knockout gas, I’m more likely to kill everyone in it then knock them out. Hallucinogens have too many issues to count, and many of them are addictive. It’s ironic that lighting shit on fire is one of the less problematic applications of my power.” He stopped talking to take a breath. “The more I study, the more ways I find to kill roomfuls of people, and I can’t control it. Would it be selfish of me to quit? Just use my powers for profit.”

“People will say it is, but no. You don’t owe the world anything. Duty is to yourself, so do what makes it easy to sleep at night.” Gaslight said.

“What about you? You’re not like me and Koi, who have to fight for a place, if you aren’t on the ultra list yet you will be soon. If they’re smart, they will stick you on a plane and never let it land. Shatter too, but it will take longer. Would it be selfish of you to retreat into your personal world and never leave?” Cinder asked.

“I tried that once, to leave everything behind. It didn’t work then, and it probably wouldn’t work now.” Gaslight said.

“Was it because you’re?” Cinder couldn’t finish the question, suddenly feeling self-conscious.

“How did you find out?” Gaslight said. The tone of the room shifted from introspection to awkwardness, but at least from Gaslight it was masking steel.

“You’re always in costume; we couldn’t visit you in the hospital. A few other things, but the big one was I recognized the pills. Does anyone else know?” Cinder asked.

“The agent who brought me in will probably figure it out, Ares, my medical team, my therapist, and Shatter’s mom,” Gaslight said.

“Prysim knows? Fuck that’s got to be rough, how did that happen?” Cinder asked.

“Fuck if I know how it happened, but I said Shatter’s mom, not Prysim. She draws a lot of lines, things her civilian identity won’t do that Prysim will. So while she might know Prysim won’t act on it. I’m safe in that respect.” Gaslight said.

“Fucking hell.”

“Amen.”

The two of them remained in silence watching Shatter and Koi continue to beat each other for a while. Eventually, Shatter slipped up and allowed Koi to get just the right leverage for a throw. He ended up bouncing off the ceiling before causing a loud crunch with his impact on the ground. Koi waits a few more minutes just to make sure Shatter wasn’t getting back up again before approaching.

“Ten minutes almost on the dot, nice guess.” Cinder said.

“It was an informed estimation, not a guess. Are you going to stick around?” Gaslight asked.

“Eh, you’ve got bigger issues than me, I might as well.” Cinder replied.

“But no less valid, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” Gaslight said.

“That sounds like a quote.” Cinder said standing.

“It was, my therapist said it to me. I think it was appropriate. Let’s go give Shatter some moral support; he’ll be hurting after losing again.”

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