Welcome to SFFSat with my excerpt from The Lady is Blue.
When you have finished, please return to read the excerpts from the other authors. Use the button at the end of the post.
Excerpt: Red is for Blood
Lucy was sorting contentedly through her work in the office, when she heard a knock on the door. “Come in!” she called and swiveled round to see Te Suzzaine enter. The Green Atrapako was breathing heavily as if she had run all the way from the Trapie dorm. She leaned against the wall, panting while she gathered breath to speak.
“What is it, Sukla?” Lucy cried in alarm and ran across to the alien.
“Lucy, you must come at once,” gasped the Green. “Sa Kamizan is fighting the Red.” Her eyes were wide and fearful. “He may be killed!”
Lucy slid a charged laser onto her belt, and both females rushed down the corridor to the elevator. “Can you explain what is happening? What can I do?” Lucy asked.
“It is because of your assault. The verdict was no punishment, since you violated our privacy. Blue verdict, Lucy!” she said emphatically while gripping the human’s arm. The elevator arrived and they rode to the ground level.
“What about the fight?” Lucy prompted.
“The duel is an ancient custom to settle disputes. Sa Kamizan made it his personal dispute and challenged the Red who attacked you.” The Green pulled roughly at Lucy’s arm and cried, “He could die because of you!”
“It was his decision,” said Lucy harshly, jerking her arm free. “When is this duel?”
“It may have started already.”
“Let’s hurry!” This time, Lucy grabbed the Green by the hand and ran at a faster speed across the lawns. Sukla found renewed energy and raced alongside.
When they reached the entrance to the Trapie dorm, no one was in sight. This was unusual. Normally, a Red and a Yellow Atrapako stood by the door to examine visitors. Once inside, the two females hurried along silent corridors. Their footsteps echoed from the yellow walls.
“What are their weapons?” Lucy gasped.
“None,” was the reply. “The Red has the advantage of physical adeptness compared to a Blue.” The Green’s voice sounded despairing.
“Sa Kamizan is no weakling and he has the advantage of greater intelligence,” Lucy reassured the Green.
Sukla flung open the door to the recreation room. It was packed solidly with Atrapako of every color. The Green forced her way through the crowd, dragging Lucy along. Lucy was scraped against solid Atrapako bodies several times due to their rapid progress through the crowd. They were all taller than the human, so she could see only scaled bodies on every side. The oily, acrid odor of Atrapako bodies was intense, and Lucy felt queasy with the smell and the nervous tension.
“It has begun,” hissed Sukla as she shoved aside the Atrapako who blocked her passage.
The crowd was unnaturally quiet. Lucy heard the dull thud of blows before the contestants were visible. Finally, they broke through into the central space. The Green pushed Lucy to the front and whispered, “It is your privilege to attend this duel. The fight is over when one surrenders, or is incapacitated.”
The Blue Sa Kamizan and the unnamed Red stood naked in the middle of a cleared area about twenty feet in diameter. The two combatants were circling warily. The arena was separated from the spectators by a wide white line. Lucy stood right at the edge of the line. “Do not cross the white line,” whispered Sukla. “Anyone who enters the circle has joined the fight.”
Lucy could not take her eyes from the combatants. The Red was slightly shorter than Sa Kamizan, but much broader and appeared more muscular. The thought flashed through her mind that she had never considered Sa Kamizan as slim or lacking muscles until today. The Red attacked with clenched fists and Lucy felt the Green flinch behind her as some of the blows landed on Sa Kamizan. The Blue jumped back lightly and warded off most of the attack. Suddenly, his fist thrust out and the Red jerked back momentarily before continuing the assault. Lucy thought she understood. Sa Kamizan was deliberately drawing a rain of blows in order to gauge the fighting style and weaknesses of the Red.
Only now did she fully appreciate the impressive power of the Atrapako physique. A human boxer would have little chance against an Atrapako adversary. And, she noticed it was not just a boxing match. The Atrapako used their sharp claws as well as their hard, scaled fists. The Red struck out straight-handed at Sa Kamizan’s head and blood dripped down his face. Lucy shuddered. She did not want him to be killed or maimed on her behalf. However, he would certainly not approve if she interfered in the fight to his advantage. She fingered the laser fastened at her belt. If Sa Kamizan was in obvious danger she would use her weapon. Perhaps she could make it look accidental.
The fight continued. The Red thrust repeatedly and more blood appeared on Sa Kamizan’s body, although he evaded many blows with agile leaps to the side. Eventually, Lucy realized the Red was also bleeding in several places, but the blood was obscured by the color of his scales. The outcome was still uncertain. The spectators watched as if in a trance. There were occasional gasps from the audience when a particularly heavy blow struck home.
Lucy recognized both opponents were tired and slowing. As the combat span on, the Blue’s stamina was apparent as he nimbly danced around the lumbering Red. Very few blows hit Sa Kamizan now, while he was often successful whenever he struck at the Red. Lucy began to relax and realized she had been holding her breath.
Suddenly the Red kicked out, and there was a loud gasp from the crowd as Sa Kamizan fell. The Red dived towards the Blue. Sa Kamizan stopped his fall with one hand, rolling swiftly aside. Then, the Red lay on the floor and Sa Kamizan had leapt upright.
“Kill him!” the cry arose from scattered members of the audience.
Sa Kamizan ignored the calls and stood silently until the Red clambered to his feet. The battle commenced again. Lucy noted that the Red had lost confidence and was concentrating on defensive tactics. It was too late for him. Sa Kamizan feinted with a kick and then lashed out left-handed. There was a thud as he contacted the Red’s head. The Red swayed, toppled to the ground and lay still.
Lucy sighed in relief. Abruptly, she leapt over the line with a warning yell. Just as the Red hit the floor, two Atrapako raced across the line behind Sa Kamizan. Both wielded long knives. Sa Kamizan was alerted to the new threat and tackled the bulky Red close to him. He was still unaware of Lucy and the second assailant.
Lucy jumped into the center, drawing the attention of the second attacker. She recognized the gangling Blue youth who had insulted Sa Kamizan to her face at the dinner. The Blue rushed towards her, brandishing a wide blade like a meat cleaver. Lucy grinned in fierce concentration, backing away slowly as if terrified. He was very eager to disable a smaller, more vulnerable opponent. Her combat training was superior. An icy calm settled over her as she crouched alertly before the furious Trapie.
Just as she had anticipated, the young Blue swept his blade down with his whole strength. The cleaver slashed toward her head. With an agile sidestep, she avoided the blow and grabbed his arm, jerking down strongly. The thin Blue slammed to the ground and slid across the floor. The knife whirled from his grasp.
Lucy straightened and looked up. Sa Kamizan was staring at her in amazement. He was wild-eyed and panting from exertion. Two Red Atrapako lay on the floor, and he held another sword. The crowd was deathly silent.
Sa Kamizan picked up the second blade. Lucy rotated to scan the circle of faces. No other assailants appeared. Sa Kamizan stepped over the red bodies to Lucy. “Do you have a weapon?” His chest heaved with every breath and Lucy knew he was exhausted.
She drew out her laser. “I’ll demonstrate,” she said fiercely. She swiveled in a half circle, menacing the spectators with her weapon. Then, she raised the laser and sliced through the cord supporting a large banner mounted on one wall. The banner crashed to the ground as several nearby Atrapako jumped out of the way.
Sa Kamizan wielded a knife in each hand. “Hold the gun ready, Lucy.” He draped one large arm casually over her shoulders. “We walk out slowly.”