Hanshagul Provincial Coast
Jugnwanian Hasan, Yazhou
1 Yubol 2228 1450 Hours
Dox emerged from the Ornith, her face twisted at the lagoon’s foul stench. Since setting down on the deserted beach, the young marix had been unusually silent. Sofita was long acclimated to the globe’s different waters but adjusting to her young charge’s temperament proved a challenge.
Dox acknowledged quickly. “Yes, Komad?”
“Is there an issue between us?”
“Doesn’t matter, Komad,”
“Did my thoughts on the Primary anger you?”
“I’m an operative in World Oceans,” Dox declared, her eyes on the swampy shoreline. “I don’t feel. I just follow orders.”
When Dox shoulder-checked her as she passed, Sofita spun around to confront her.
“Come on,” she raised her fists. “Let’s slap it out.”
Dox slowly turned to face her. “I don’t think that’s wise, Komad,”
“You’re telling an hizak what’s wise?”
Dox put her hands on her hips.
“That’s not what I meant, Komad.”
“I know,” Sofita began dancing in a fighting stance. “If you only had a marix for a Komad, then your fists would be up right now.”
“That’s not it—”
“—then get over here!”
“Komad,” she sighed. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I’m a Kul,” she warned. “You couldn’t hurt me if you tried.”
“This is stupid!” Dox spat.
Sofita taunted her. “You afraid?”
“Of you?” laughed Dox.
“I killed to win my Final Trial,” Sofita hopped closer. “You barely survived yours, even with your face planted in the snow through most of it!”
Dox hands curled into fists.
“That’s not what happened!”
“Don’t fall on your way over here, Toob!”
Dox’s jaw tensed. “You’ve got the Shell, Komad.”
Sofita circled her, fists still ready. “I don’t need to power up to take you out, you Pure-Gen fuck!”
Shocked, Dox mouthed the word, fuck, and then charged.
Sofita dodged with a sidestep and struck the Donmat’s lower back, but the tall marix whirled around with a right hook aimed at Sofita’s head. She blocked the punch with her arm up and then jabbed a fist into the taller marix’s ribcage.
Doubled over only a second, the Donmat scrambled and tried to tackle her legs, but Sofita hopped up, vaulted off her back and landed a boot to the marix’s lower back, sending her face down into the sand.
“You better now?” Sofita panted.
Dox lay unresponsive, but unlike her Final Trial, this was a ruse.
Knowing what to expect next, Sofita moved in alongside the fallen bruiser, relaxing as Dox hooked an arm around the back of her knees. Swept off her feet, she landed hard on her backswell.
“I’m better now, Komad!” Dox declared, on her feet and clapping her hands together once before striding victoriously to the Ornith.
“We’re ahead of schedule,” Sofita tucked her knees and rolled onto her feet. “I’d like to remain that way.”
The Donmat reemerged with a bare hand.
“Where’s your blaster, Dox?”
“You think we’ll need them?” she asked.,
“How are we going to cut through the jungle?”
Dox sheepishly bobbed her head and pulled a blaster onto her hand.
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