Erix just kept pressing him back, pushing him around to a degree even Striker had never managed. Before his opponent could strike again, Max drew his backup laser sword, the one he found in the Harken Building. He had meant to hold it back as a reserve weapon, but he now understood that if he didn’t change his tactics, he wouldn’t need a backup anyway.
“You didn’t tell me you had another sword.” Erix grinned.
All Max could come up with was, “You never asked. And what about yours?”
“Fair enough,” he conceded.
Max tried to use one blade to block, the other to counter. In his mind, he heard Robert quip, Having two swords isn’t always an advantage, and now he was fast learning— the hard way— what his father meant. Found himself remembering his childhood friend, Lance, how he seemed to be a natural at two-weapon fighting. On one hand, an expert had a deadly edge with two swords— and Erix clearly had trained to be adept with twin blades— but on the other hand, for a novice at it, two weapons could quickly become a burden, as Erix was already figuring out Max’s simple patterns.
Much to his chagrin, it didn’t come as any great surprise when Erix finally tweaked the left sword out of his grip.
But Erix wasn’t finished, striking with the other blade, as Max barely sidestepped, feeling the tingle of the energy blade as it swept a bare inch past his face in his opponent’s near-miss.
“Don’t you feel the rush?” Erix laughed. “Your life could end any minute. Try to enjoy it while it lasts!”
With that, Erix jumped back in, as Max found himself pushed back to Square One. Then his back up against the wall. Was still off-balance as Erix drove his blade home.
It was only on reflex that Max somehow steadied himself by bracing one foot against the wall behind him. His abrupt halt allowed him to avoid Erix’s blade by a hair’s breadth. It all happened in a fraction of a second, but time seemed to slow down for Max as he kicked off the wall, nailing his adversary’s right hand while the blade was still buried in the wall.
Max then snapped his foot back across, hitting Erix in the chest, sending him staggering back as he fumbled his weapon.
Certain this would be his last chance, Max took the offensive, pressing Erix back. Now Erix had only his left-hand sword, and Max intended to take full advantage of it. Doing all he could to keep him from switching hands.
This kept up for a short while before it began to dawn on Max that something was terribly wrong, as Erix continued to hold out.
“Not a bad idea, Max,” Erix remarked, “but I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, too. Starting with the fact that I’m ambidextrous!”
“Amba-what?” Though Max already didn’t like the sound of it.
“Dumbass! I can use both hands with equal skill!”
To prove it, Erix immediately took back the initiative, throwing Max off-balance as he tried to contend with the opposite hand to what he was used to.
In desperation, Max lashed out at the next opening he could find. Only to discover a split-second later, to his horror, that it was only a feint. Even as he tried vainly to sidestep, Erix tripped him, sending him sprawling against the deck railing, hard enough to topple him.
Max barely grabbed the railing as he went over. The pull on his shoulders nearly wrenching his grip loose. He looked down for an anxious moment at the jagged rocks and crashing waves below.
Then back up at the ruthless grin on Erix’s face as he peered down at him.
“It’s been fun!” Erix told him, laughing as he stepped on Max’s hand, breaking his grip, and nearly breaking his fingers while he was at it. “But all good fights must come to an end!”
He then stomped on Max’s remaining hand, but Max barely caught himself with his other, numb, hand.
“Shades…” Max’s voice was almost too cracked to be heard, from the strain alone, he knew the next stomp would be the last. “Forgive me…”
“Fall!” Erix lifted his boot to strike again—
When he was struck upside the head with a length of chain. Before he could regain his balance, that same length of chain wrapped around his arm, dragging him back. He only got a brief glimpse of Shades as he was hauled over with the very chain that once bound him, and Shades kneed him— hard— in the solar plexus.
As Erix doubled over, Shades reached out, removing his sunglasses from Erix’s face, then kicked him aside.
Putting his shades back on, he warily eyed his foe as he keeled over. A dangerous animal he didn’t dare turn his back on. Was shocked to realize that he was actually contemplating killing him once and for all.
Seeing that Max couldn’t hold on much longer made up Shades’ mind for him, and he turned from his dark thoughts to help him.