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Axel vs. Liska: The Match (part 2)
Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:05pm

The third floor was a smoldering ruin, as Axel had expertly destroyed every single wall up there without harming the primary supports. Nodding in satisfaction, Axel proceeded over to the hole leading to the second floor and dropped down. He landed in a crouch, spinning quickly to take in the area. He was in the middle of a four-way intersection, each corridor extending to the outer perimeter of the building, and with additional branching corridors leading off the four primaries. Not a good place to land, Axel realized--Liska could pop out of any one of those corridors and plant a slug right in the base of his head. He doubted a single shot would penetrate his armor, but it probably would stun him if she scored a direct shot to the head. He brought his shield in tight and moved down the corridor to his right, looking for a more defensible position so he could begin demolishing this floor as well.

Liska shouldered her shotgun and began patrolling the first floor, committing it to memory and specifically seeking out advantageous positions for an ambush. She was growing more uneasy as she cleared the various halls and rooms, due in large part to the horrible commotion taking place above. It had been five minutes since the start of the match, and she had yet to engage Axel in active combat. And yet it sounded like Armageddon had broken out on the rooftop and was creeping its way slowly downward. Chunks of plaster rained down on her from above as another blast echoed, the few interior lights flickering ominously. Whatever the Russian was doing up there, she doubted it bode well for her. Liska realized suddenly that although she had a plan against Axel, the veteran commander likely had a plan against her as well.

A green and blue shape dropped down ten feet to her right. Liska's eyes went wide in sudden shock--she had somehow completely forgotten to re-check the second floor access! She whirled and fired the shotgun, the metal slug pinging off Axel's shield as the experienced merc brought it to bear. Liska backpedaled, firing another slug, which Axel again deflected with the shield. His shield easily covered half his body, and with his eyes tracking the motion of her shotgun through the transparent shield, Liska knew she had no hope of actually getting a shot past it. She continued stepping backwards, aiming down and firing a shot at Axel's foot, but as expected the shield was in line to block the slug easily. The Russian's arm cannon morphed away into a hand, and he drew his saber--the weapon Liska both hoped and dreaded seeing. A fourth slug, a fourth deflection. Liska reached a side corridor and disengaged, running full speed away from the stalking mercenary.

Axel likewise broke into a run, but the lithe young Liska easily outstepped him. She had already made several passes of the first floor and committed its layout to memory; this, coupled with her own advantage in speed, allowed her to lose the Russian in a maze of twisting passages. She stopped with her back against one wall, panting heavily, shaking ever so slightly. For some reason, this particular battle was far more terrifying to her than anything she had experienced. Maybe it was the thought of going up against one of her own, or maybe it was the eerily haunting way in which Axel was methodically cutting off her escape routes... That was it, she realized. The havoc Axel had wreaked on the top floors--he had destroyed the cover. This floor was her last and only hope of--

The wall erupted beside her and she dove away from it with a shriek. Liska whirled, just in time to see Axel's gauntleted fist retract through the opening. She raised her shotgun and fired a slug through the wall, hearing a grunt from the other side. Then heavy footfalls receded away, leading to... Liska glanced down the corridor, knowing the only possible way from which Axel would come. Sure enough, the Russian rounded the corner, and Liska fired a sixth slug. That one actually missed entirely, zipping a fraction of an inch past Axel and disappearing through a wall. The Russian charged towards her, and the auburn haired girl quickly fired off a seventh. Running backwards as quickly as she dared, Liska squeezed her trigger an eighth time, Eyes wide, she glanced down at her gun in disbelief. The Russian smirked behind his blast visor--a misfire was all the opportunity he needed. His shield swung to the side as he closed the distance, his stun saber started to come down...

Liska's last two rounds weren't slugs, but shotshells. She had intentionally removed the primer for the eighth...but the last shell was intact. The misfire--and her reaction to it--had been naught but a ruse. Pumping her shotgun one last time and firing a desperate shot upwards, the pellets spread out and peppered Axel's upraised hand. Though they failed to penetrate his armored gauntlet, his variable saber was not so lucky. One single pellet struck the focus lens an caused it to spiderweb, dispersing the energy into a fine green mist. Axel's arm slashed downward, the vapor spraying over them both harmlessly.

Axel looked at his weapon in momentary surprise, giving Liska the time she needed to make a break for it. Axel groaned in aggravation, stowing the ruined weapon away and forming a cannon, then beginning the chase anew. Liska used her knowledge of the floor to again outdistance the Russian, knowing she needed to buy herself a few seconds in order to reload her weapon. Walls all around her began to explode in showers of drywall and aluminum as Axel's green plasma shots started their demolition process anew. Out of options and nearly out of time, Liska darted to the second floor access hole, and hauled herself up, trying to get to the rooftop so she could safely use her explosives.

It didn't take long for Axel to realize Liska had abandoned the first floor, but he made a point to destroy all of the interior walls anyway. Looking around at the smoking ruins and confirming Liska's absence, he started climbing up after her. He hauled himself up to the second floor without incident, and then up to the third. He grinned, knowing she had to be on the rooftop. He realized she would probably try to use her explosives up there, since the uncontained blasts would be less likely to bring down the building. And he also realized that if the floor were to collapse, gravity would give Liska no choice but to come to him...

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