14 Chapter 14

I swallowed huge gulps of air and tried to get my breathing under control.

Around me, I heard a sudden roar of a cheering crowd. 10 huge fog lights came on next, banishing the darkness around me, and it became obvious I was in some sort of metal Octagon with blood-stained floors and all manner of weapons hanging on the far wall.

I immediately summoned Ebony and Ivory and waited on my opponent with bated breath.

Speaking of the devil, he emerged from the shadow cast by the fog light. He was a strapping young man with dark cat ears of all things and a tail swishing behind him. He wore a black leotard and had bandages wrapped around his hands and bare feet.

I knew an experienced fighter when I saw one and laughed at the irony. I'd been itching to test my mettle, and now I got my wish, though it was under the most inconvenient circumstances.

"He's quicker than a cheetah and more ferocious than a Lion, I give you, Night Kat," a familiar voice boomed on the loudspeaker. 

It was Toad's.

The crowd cheered and hooted, their excitement deafening.

"And his challenger is a dead man walking. Able to heal from any wound and summon weapons of mass destruction, I give you, Arsenal."

The boos were overwhelming, and I let them roll over me. I was used to the hate with my MMA background. I had to claw my way to the very top. I'd done it in my past life, and I could do it again here in Marvel. 

"You're going to die," the man said, his voice barely above a whisper. He cracked his neck. "I'd say it's nothing personal, but it won't make much of a difference, would it?"

"No, it would not," I said, firing Ebony and Ivory simultaneously. Each bullet took half of an energy point from their respective pools, so I could manage it for a bit before I had to stop. Unsurprisingly, Night Cat seemed to dodge them all, zipping closer and closer, all the while.

When he came close enough to swipe at me, I disappeared my gun and juked under the strike, coming in with a kidney shot that took the cat by surprise, but it didn't rattle him enough, nor did it slow down the sudden twist of his torso and the subsequent claw strike that shaved a strip off my forearm.

Quick footwork allowed me to gain some distance while I assumed a relaxed stance, with my shoulder low and my legs wide.

Congratulations: You've recalled Kickboxing: Adept

"You're quick," Night Cat said as he licked the blood running down his claws.

"And you talk too much."

He moved again, but this time I was ready for him. I dodged a flurry of hand swipes and raised my leg to dodge a particular bold leg sweep, but I didn't go for a kick to the leg like he'd be expecting.

With a shit-eating grin, I pulled out my desert pistol and fired at him. 

Night Kat, with his bullshit flexibility and a sudden burst of speed, took the shot in his forearm instead of his head, but I pressed the opening anyways.

I guess an instant headshot would be asking for too much.

Still, it did prove a theory I'd been formulating. He wasn't faster than a speeding bullet. He was just faster than me and could generally predict how I would respond and move. He probably has some perception-based mutation to round off his claws, flexibility, and obvious strength.

He hissed at me like an actual cat after I shot him, and he lunged at me, but I beat him back with my new baseball bat.

The thing snapped under the intense force, and Night Kat went flying.

The crowd gasped, and I could feel the momentum swinging. I fired one more shot at my dessert eagle to finish off the feline fucker, but he zipped up to his feet and dashed to the side faster than I could react. I kept firing until he disappeared into the darkness beyond the fog lights.

"In an unbelievable turn of events, Arsenal sent Night Kat running. This is the first time in a long time we've seen somebody wound the feline hunter. What will he do next? Will he give up to Greenhorn and forfeit the match and his winnings, or will he strike like cornered beast?"

The weapons came flying so fast that I barely reacted. First, it was a sword, which I narrowly dodged. Then, it was a knife that stole a bit of my trap muscle and finally came a spear, which I had to summon Rebellion to parry.

I sent it flying off into the distance, and an overwhelming sense of confidence and excitement filled me. It was in my hands—the Rebellion. And its metal grip felt cool and familiar to the touch. Immediately, I knew how to use it.

Congratulations: You've recalled Swordsmanship: Adept

A dozen more weapons followed, each admittedly poorly parried, but parried nonetheless.

"What is this?" I heard the anger sip into Toad's voice. "Arsenal as pulled out a sword of all things. And he seems to know a thing or two about using it. Will this be enough to defeat Night Kat? I seriously doubt it."

As if on cue, Night Kat came bounding from my flank at incredible speeds, but there was no fear in my eyes. I moved, executing a feint, and parried the slash that followed. I pushed him away with my long blade, turning and twisting it for a quick horizontal cut, which Kat evaded easily by flipping back.

I closed the distance, pressing him with strikes, trying my best not to telegraph my attacks, and slowly, my form became less wild, and I shifted to his left side where his bleeding forearm lay limp. By the tenth swing, I had him backpedaling and surprised him with a particularly nasty kick to the gut that folded him. 

I riddled him with bullets even as he went down, yet he miraculously managed to dodge more than a few, but Ebony and Ivory never needed reloading, and I was far from spent.

I didn't stop until I had more than five bullets in him, and he was writhing on the floor in pain.

Kat tried to get up, but I put a demonic bullet into his thigh with Ebony.

"Got nothing to say now!" I roared; the volume of my voice surprising even me. It's been dealing with one clusterfuck after another. SHIELD, now Toad, and now a fucking Duel.

Honestly, I wanted nothing more than to put a bullet in this fucker and call it a day, but I had a much bigger problem on my hand. Toad had said we were broadcasting live. And that meant the cat was out of the bag, I needed to get gone fast, and Night Kat was my ticket out of here.

"Please don't." the feline mutant finally begged.

"It's nothing personal," I sneered, throwing his words back at him as I pressed the gun to his skull. The dread seeped into his face in slow motion, and he shut his eyes, waiting for death.

"Don't!" I heard Toad announce from the speaker.

"Or you'll what?"

It was obvious Kat was his top earner, and he was a remarkable mutant too. For all his speed and skill, he didn't fare too well against bullets and someone who had better reach than him. Simple logic, Really.

"Here's what going to happen," I said, yanking up Kat on his legs even as he groaned. "You're going to fucking let me out of here, or your precious mutant over here gets a bullet in the head."

"Why do you think I'll ever make that trade?" Toad asked.

"Don't bother playing dumb," I snapped. "You already showed your hand. I know this is some front to recruit mutants into your asshat organization, and I know Night Kat over here is, at the very least, a prospect or a member. You were counting on him winning, and he was never supposed to kill me. So, what will it be? Will you lose one mutant at a chance to capture the other, or will you let him live for a chance to catch me at another date?"

"How about neither?" I heard a voice speak into my mind, and my entire body froze. The voice sounded grandfatherly and old yet oddly familiar.

Professor X?

(A/N: Sorry for the late delivery. I had some work to catch up on, but the good news is that the delay allowed me to finish 5 advanced chapters on my Patreon and post it. That's right. It's officially live. Search for patreon.com/Artandcreativewriting Not very imaginative, I know, but it is what it is. Read up to Chapter 19 Right now. More content to follow soon. And trust me the story only gets better from here on out. )

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