“There’s nothing out there that’ll wait until you’re ready,” said Teyata.
Brad detected movement and instinctively raised his arm. As if simultaneously, he felt his arm swatted aside and a stinging pain across his chest.
“Better,” said Teyata, “But you were told not to block until you were ready.”
Her hand snaked out, as Brad turned his head, receiving light scratches across his cheek.
“You could just do this without the claws,” Brad lamented.
“Pain is the best teacher.”
Teyata lashed out again…
“Fast- forward!” cried Lisa, speeding up the process.
For an hour a day, Brad attempted to dodge Teyata, becoming more fluid, until he twisted almost on top of himself to avoid her.
Teyata paced warily outside of the circle with tail twitching as Brad followed her movements, shifting only minutely.
“Alright, you’re as fast as you’re going to get,” said Teyata.
Brad had to agree. Although he avoided most of her attacks, Teyata had the superior speed of a manine no human being could ever hope to match.
“You can block now. Get your claws.”
Brad sensed the shift of air behind him and rolled accordingly away from Teyata’s unannounced slash. He thrust his hand in the pack, clutching two daggers and flung the pack at her face. It had the desired affect of distracting her. She swatted the pack aside as Brad snapped his wrists, discarding the dagger sheaths.
His right hand burred to block Teyata’s next slash, ending in a clacking of her claws against the steel edge.
“That’s good,” Teyata commended. “But you took time to get your claws ready. You’re going to have to work out a way to always have them with you.”
They circled each other…
With a series of twists, blocks, and rolls Brad stemmed Teyata’s attacks. She stopped, bent over for breath as Brad waited eagerly with daggers in each hand.
“That’s enough blocking. In fact, that’s enough sparring for today.”
“Do I learn to attack tomorrow?”
“Are you confident enough with your claws?”
“No,” Brad said honestly.
“When you think you’re ready; we’ll spar again,” Teyata said, walking away.
“Where are you going?”
Teyata shrugged. “To read.”
What else would she do? he told himself.
He took up his pack of weapons and slipped them over one shoulder as he made his way back inside the shopping centre. He needed something to holster everything he had so as to make them ready to hand. Leather crafting seemed the obvious choice.
Lisa fast- forwarded his wanderings over the centre, ending at Lenny’s leatherworks shop. He played the holographic disc on leathercrafting, getting a general idea of tools and stitching. Determined to cut as less as possible he took three long broad belts from the display stand. With an awl and leather thong he began work, lashing them together.
Lisa sped up the process, watching the harness take shape. Brad re- adjusted, and dismantled sections several times after his final fitting. A gasp escaped Lisa as she saw him wearing the same Y – framed harness of the skeleton on her examination table.
A series of eight dagger hilts jutted from their sheaths running down the Y straps on his broad chest. Four hatchets sat in holsters; one on each thigh, and one on either hip. A row of leather loops ran all the way around his belt. He began to thrust the grenades within. When he had finished, he snatched a dagger in each hand. With an annoyed shake of his head; he put them back and attempted to draw them faster.