Chapter Seventeen: Showdown

The next day Rona was called to the principal’s office.

“Did you think you would get away with it?” asked Principal Goodman.

“Let’s pretend I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Rona, looking around at all of the faces in the office with her. To her right sat Coach Yval and Andy Mowry. To her left was one of the nurses from the day before and Coach Lawler. In front of her was Principal Goodman. And he looked furious. The redness in his face had gone all the way up to the top of his balding head.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” said the principal.

“I just wish I knew what you were talking about. Can I get a hint? Or maybe a multiple choice?” said Rona with a shrug.

“I will not tolerate drug use of any kind at my school,” said the principal.

“Good,” said Rona, nodding in agreement. “I’m with ya’. Just say ‘no,’ man.”

“That includes steroids,” said the principal.

“Steroids? You mean like a baseball player?” asked Rona.

“Without the homeruns,” Coach Yval chimed in.

“You think I’m smoking the steroids?” asked Rona.

“You know damn well you don’t ‘smoke’ steroids. You inject ‘em in the butt. Or orally,” said Coach Yval. Everyone turned to stare at Coach Yval “What? Read a book, people!”

“What on earth would give you the impression that I’m using the steroids?” asked Rona.

The principal looked over at the nurse.

“You’re heartbeat was…irregular, yesterday. That kind of thing could be caused by steroid use. I’m just saying that we should test you. It’s for safety reasons,” said the nurse.

“So my heartbeat was irregular? So what? I was sick yesterday,” said Rona with a shrug.

The principal looked over at Andy Mowry. Coach Yval put his hand on Andy’s shoulder. Andy hadn’t looked up the entire time. He sat fiddling with his fingers in his lap.

“Go on. Tell them what you told me,” said Coach Yval.

Mowry looked up at Rona, and then quickly back down to his lap.

“He said you were stronger than a man!” said Coach Yval.

“So what? I work out,” said Rona.

“I’m sure you do ‘work out.’ I’m sure you do yoga. And maintain a healthy diet of spinach, broccoli and Stanozolol! Look at this boy! He ain’t never gonna’ be right again! Look at him! He’s ruined!” said Coach Yval.

“That’s enough, Coach,” said the principal. “The whole class saw what you did to Andy in the gym, that day. There’s no way that a girl could beat a healthy boy like–”

Coach Lawler cleared her throat.

“Oh, don’t get all self-righteous,” said Coach Yval. “Your man cheated!”

“She did not!” said Coach Lawler.

“She’s on the juice!” shouted Coach Yval.

“She is not! Those are allegations and they’re not true, right, Rona?” said Coach Lawler, her and Coach Yval now standing nose to nose.

“And where’s her birth certificate, anyway? I bet she’s never had a problem buying beer!”

“She’s just a kid!”

“She’s damn near thirty!”

“She doesn’t buy beer!”

“Yeah, just steroids, right?”

“Okay, enough!” said the principal. “The only way to settle this is to have Rona take the test.”

With that, the nurse placed a cup on the desk.

“Oh really? You’re gonna’ test me for misconduct? What about chastising these two bozos for staging a wrestling match between two students in order to settle their own, personal feud?” said Rona, motioning toward the coaches. “Or better yet, how about getting a nurse that doesn’t jump to conclusions after meeting with a patient for five minutes,” she said motioning to the nurse. “And this kid, clearly needs therapy,” said Rona, motioning toward Mowry. “And I’m no legal expert, but I’m pretty sure that I’m supposed to have a parent or guardian present before I take any kind of test! This is a lawsuit waiting to happen! Are you running a school or a zoo?”

“If you have nothing to hide, then take the test,” said the principal pushing the cup towards Rona.

“Maybe I will!” said Rona snatching the cup from the desk. She peeked in the cup and then made a puzzled face. “There’s nothing in this cup.”

Rona found herself on community service for the remainder of the day. It wasn’t her refusal to take the test that landed her in trouble. It was the language she had used when refusing.

She had given them all a very graphic suggestion on what they could do with their cup.

She refused to get out of the van to help pick up trash with the other students once they had gotten to the park.

“Do you want to come outside yet?” asked Miss Tilley, sweetly through the open window of the van.

Rona ignored her.

“I don’t blame you. Look on the bright side, at least it’s Friday,” said Miss Tilley with a smile. “Mind if I join you?” Rona shrugged. Miss Tilly climbed into the van and sat next to Rona. “I understand. I think it’s wrong what they’re doing to you. You should report them.”

“How is it that you are everywhere?” asked Rona.

Miss Tilley laughed. “It seems that way doesn’t it. I’m a substitute teacher. I fill in where I’m needed. When they don’t have anything for me, then they stick me on this community service monitoring job. It pays the bills, for now, but I’m hoping for a fulltime position when one opens up.”

“What do you teach?” asked Rona.

“Chemistry, biology and literature! I could get a job at another school, but this is my alma mater and my dream is to teach here,” said Miss Tilley with a shrug. She looked at Rona and smiled. “I’ll bet you’re really popular back at your old school.”

“Oh yeah. I’m like a movie star there.”

“I believe you,” said Miss Tilley with a chuckle. “You’re really mature for your age. And you’re really beautiful. You’re going to make tons of friends here, I just know it!”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Anytime. If you ever want to talk, I’m here.”

“It was nice talking to you, Miss Tilley” said Rona, extending a hand.

“You too, Rona,” said Miss Tilley, taking Rona’s hand in both of hers and shaking it graciously.

She was human.

A bit of an oddball, but human.

Miss Tilley left Rona alone in the van. She stared out of the window at the other kids. Off in the distance her eyes caught sight of what looked like a hooded figure in the park. Rona sat bolt upright, but it was gone in an instant. She settled back down. She leaned back in her chair. There it was again! This time, Rona was sure she’d seen it. An Infernal, in broad daylight? Were they getting bolder?

Rona climbed out of the van. She walked in the direction that she’d seen the figure. She kept her pace, deliberate. Not too fast, not too slow. Once again she saw the hood pop out from behind the bathroom building. When he saw Rona coming towards him, he took off running. Rona gave chase. It was clear to Rona that the Infernal had intended to be chased. He was leading her deeper into the park where there were less people. The Infernal rounded the corner of a stone building, and Rona followed. Once she’d turned the corner, the Infernal was gone. Rona searched the area. There was a large duck pond not too far away with some people lounging about on the other side. But no sign of the Infernal. Rona put her back to the wall and moved cautiously. She peeked around the other corner of the building. There was no one there. She continued to creep around each corner until she’d lapped the building completely.

“Hello, Rona,” said the leader.

Rona glanced up and saw the leader standing on the roof of the building. “You know my name, but I still don’t know yours.”

“Perhaps there will be time for introductions later. For now, I have a proposition to make you,” said the leader.

“What do you want?” said Rona.

“To kill you.”

“Mmm. You sure know how to get a girl excited. Do you want to come down here or should I come up there?”

“Not here. Not now. Tonight. At Sloan Lake. Let’s finish it.”

“I hate waiting,” said Rona. She leaped onto the top of the building. Just as she landed the leader disappeared in a puff of smoke.

“Tonight at Sloan Lake. Dusk,” the voice of the leader echoed after he’d vanished.

 

Virgil opened the front door. “Where have you been?”

“Community service,” said Rona, as she walked into the house.

“Want a pop?” asked Virgil as he made his way to the kitchen with Rona close behind. “I was freaking out. I thought you got kidnapped again.”

“Trust me, that’s something I won’t be doing every day,” said Rona, propping herself up to sit onto the counter. “I ran into one of our friends from the Infernal.”

“Really? Did you vanquish him—exercise him—whatever?” asked Virgil, before burying his head in the refrigerator.

“No,” said Rona. “He wants to meet with me tonight at Sloan Lake and settle the score.”

Virgil laughed from inside of the refrigerator. “What makes him think you’d be dumb enough to go for something like that?”

Rona didn’t say anything.

Virgil emerged from the fridge with two ice-cold pops. He tossed one to Rona before popping the top on his. He hoisted himself up to sit on the kitchen table.

“You’re not considering it, are you?” asked Virgil, freezing himself mid drink to ask the question.

“Well, yeah I kinda was,” said Rona, before taking a sip of soda.

“Rona, haven’t you ever seen a movie? When the bad guy says: ‘Lets meet’ you’re not supposed to go. It’s a trap. It always is.”

“Well, I kicked his ass twice already. I don’t see what would be different this time. Besides, I’ll get there early, before they have a chance to set anything up. It’ll be me that springs the trap.”

“I don’t know. He’s got to have something up his sleeve. You said it, yourself, demons don’t play by the rules.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll think of something.”

“You’re the expert,” said Virgil, before taking a swig of pop.

“I am,” said Rona, before following suit.

Virgil stopped drinking and thought about something for a moment. “If you get killed, do I get a new guardian?”

Rona narrowed her eyes at him.

“What? It’s a legitimate question,” said Virgil.

A key twisted in the door and Virgil’s mom, Pam, and little sister, Celeste, walked in carrying groceries. She made a face when she saw Rona and Virgil.

“You two—down!” she said.

Virgil and Rona both hopped down from their respective perches.

“That’s unsanitary,” said Virgil’s mother. “You both know better.”

“Sorry, Mom.”

“Sorry, Mrs. McFeeney.”

“Hello, Miss Rona. Good to see you,” said Pam with a smile, as she placed the groceries down on the table. “Are you staying for dinner tonight.”

“No, I’m going to take off in a minute,” said Rona, playing with Celeste’s pigtails as the little girl hugged her around the waist.

“And she may not be coming back, either,” said Virgil.

Rona punched him in the arm and he grimaced in pain.

Pam shot them both a puzzled look. “Okay.”

“Walk me to the door, Virgil. Please,” said Rona. Virgil obliged. The two of them walked out onto the porch.

“So, what am I supposed to do while you’re gone?” asked Virgil.

“Stay inside and don’t let anyone in.”

“If one of those demons really wants in, there won’t be anything I can do to stop him.”

“Your home has a threshold. A demon can’t cross it without being invited.”

“Oh. Kind of like a vampire.”

“Exactly,” said Rona. “You’ll be safe here. I’ll swing by and check on you later.”

Rona stopped by the house. She put on the uniform that Angelica had made for her and told Brittany and Ashley that she was going to play soccer and wouldn’t be home for dinner. She arrived at Sloan Lake just before dusk. It was a decent sized lake. Aside from a few joggers and people walking their dogs it wasn’t too busy. Rona didn’t know where she was supposed to meet the Infernal. She guessed it would be a place off in the shadows so that they wouldn’t be seen. She found a more secluded part of the lake, rich with trees. She climbed a nearby tree and hid out of sight. She watched the sun begin its slow drift into the horizon as she waited for the Infernal to arrive. She kept her eyes tuned for any change in the environment. By Rona’s count, it had taken more than a couple of hours for the sun to fade completely away. It was past dusk now.

The Infernal were late.

Maybe they got caught in traffic, thought Rona. She amused herself, laughing at the image of the hood figures carpooling together, and shouting at nearby drivers as they sat at a red light. That helped pass the time for a while. The park wasn’t well lit, and Rona was beginning to find it hard to see. She reached out with all of her other senses, hoping to catch wind of something. Eventually, she began to hear something off in the distance. It was coming closer.

Chanting.

As the chanting drew closer, Rona poised herself to spring at a moment’s notice. She held position, not making a sound. The chanting was close enough now that Rona could hear the chorus of voices blending together as one. Then, on cue, they stopped.

“You can come down from the trees now. We’ve arrived,” said the Leader.

Rona smacked her teeth before leaping down from the trees. How did he always know where she was hiding? She landed in a crouched position, one hand on the ground.

“You’re so feline in your motion. Such grace. Such power. You’re quite beautiful,” said the Leader.

Rona rose to her full height. She cracked her knuckles, stretched out her arms, then her neck, then her jaw. “Okay, let the beatings commence.”

“Before we commence with the, uh, ahem, ‘beatings’ I have a surprise,” said the Leader.

“I hate surprises.”

“I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine, from out of town.”

His shadow cast down from behind Rona before she saw him. She whirled around and found herself face-to-face—well, face-to-navel!—with a giant. Rona rolled to her right, putting some space between her and this new foe, while being conscious to keep him and the hoods on the same side. She eyed the giant, stunned that something so enormous had managed to sneak up behind her. The first thing she noticed was his massive chest, rippled muscles boasting a functional strength built for destruction. Long, powerful arms, twice as thick as a grown man’s legs, branched out from his tree trunk torso, with two sledgehammer fists hanging from each of them. It came as no surprise to Rona that he wore no shirt since she doubted there were shirts big enough to fit him. The britches he wore were from a bygone era, a harsher era, when the strongest of the strong killed competed for the carcasses of the weak. This guy looked like he never lost. Rona tried to hide her astonishment.

He didn’t seem nearly as impressed with her.

“Rona, meet Goliath. Goliath—Rona,” said the Leader, motioning back and forth between Rona and Goliath.

“You’re a summoner. You can summon things from the netherworld,” said Rona, with sudden realization, but never taking her eyes off of Goliath. For first time, she noticed the horns that sprouted from his head as he stared down at her with green, pupil-less eyes that betrayed no emotion.

“That’s riiigghht. Did you think you could defeat me, fool? Did you think this a game? Now, I have other matters to attend. I’ll leave you two some time to get to know each other. Play nice” said the leader. He and the other Infernal took their leave.

“This is your adversary, Pitroth?” asked Goliath with a dismissive shrug.

Pitroth. So the “leader” had a name—and a stupid name at that—Rona took note of it.

“Okay, Goliath, since you weren’t satisfied with dying the first time, let’s make this death permanent,” said Rona, taking up a fighting stance; slightly crouched, hands at her chin.

Laughter boomed from Goliath’s chest. “You are every bit the brash little warrior that Pitroth described. And you’re quite a bit older than your appearance suggests. Let us engage in honorable combat.”

He bowed.

“Whatever,” said Rona. “If David was able to beat you, then–”

“Never speak his name!” thundered Goliath. “He was not an honorable warrior!”

“It seems I hit a nerve!” said Rona with a laugh. “Well, I’m a lot stronger than David and I hit harder.”

“Let us see how great of a warrior you truly are, female,” said Goliath.

Goliath charged Rona with terrifying speed. She attempted to dodge to the side but was still caught with a glancing blow from one of Goliath’s massive hands. The blow was enough to send her tumbling to the ground. She gathered herself just in time to dodge one of Goliath’s monstrous feet as he attempted to stomp on her. The foot left an imprint a few inches deep, where Rona had just been. Rona leaped up and landed a punch square on Goliath’s jaw. He retaliated immediately, stepping forward and punching her in the face with his enormous fist. The impact sent Rona rolling over backwards until she was lying face first on the ground, in a daze. Goliath walked over and grabbed her by the nape of her neck. She squealed in pain as Goliath’s hand clamped down on her.

“You’re not so tough,” said Goliath, slowly lifting Rona by the nape of her neck. In a swift and furtive movement, Rona grabbed a nearby rock. She lifted it with both hands and brought it down hard on Goliath’s forehead. He dropped Rona and fell onto his backside.

A stone to the forehead, that should do it, thought Rona. She watched as Goliath rose to one knee, holding his forehead in pain.

Then he began to laugh.

“Resourceful; using your environment to strike blows.” He sprang at Rona launching a series of punches. Rona dodged most of the heavy ones and countered with a few of her own. “Using your superior speed against a more powerful adversary; very good,” said Goliath. Goliath caught one of Rona’s kicks in one hand and backhanded her with the other. The blow spun Rona halfway around and she collapsed down on all-fours. Goliath kicked her in the stomach as if she were a soccer ball. The air escaped Rona before she could scream. The kick sent her flying through the air and crashing down into the dirt, rolling and tumbling on the ground before coming to a complete stop several feet from where she’d landed. She lay on the ground in pain, holding her stomach, unable to move.

“Come on, get up. I know you have more fight in you than this, Warrior Female,” said Goliath. Rona groaned in pain as he kicked her again. “Rise to your feet, Warrior Female! Do not succumb to the pain. I am enjoying this contest!”

Rona wasn’t.

“Very well, then. You have fought valiantly. I shall afford you an honorable death,” said Goliath. He grabbed a fistful of Rona’s hair and dragged her across the ground. Rona couldn’t muster the energy for a proper struggle as Goliath dragged her through the dirt. Her clothes scraped and tore as he dragged her over rocks and concrete. There was a moment of relief as they came to a stop. Rona could smell the water and hear the ducks quacking. She attempted one last time to pry Goliath’s fingers from her hair. He lifted her up slightly and then slammed her face into Sloan Lake. Rona kicked and thrashed wildly. Bubbles formed as she screamed under water.

“This is a painless death. Relax. Allow it to take you,” said Goliath soothingly. “Let the fire go out, Warrior Female. You have earned the right to die with honor. Take pleasure in it.”

Rona could feel her breath leaving her. The water was beginning to enter her lungs, and for a moment—just a moment—she thought about allowing it to happen. An end to pain and suffering. A chance to move from this world once and for all. Rona’s long life flashed before her eyes as if she were just a passive observer. She saw it all: The Charge. The sword. The 300 souls. The monks. The wandering. Belfagor. Oliver’s death. Harmony’s rage. The loving eyes of Elimu. The fights. The battles. The wars. Grandma’s pancakes. High school. Virgil.

998 years in 8.99 seconds.

Rona reached around under the water until her hand clasped onto a piece broken glass. She reached up and found Goliath’s forearm with one hand then jammed the glass into his arm with the other. He cried out in pain and released her. Rona pulled her head up from the lake. She coughed up water and gasped for air. As soon as she could muster the strength, she attempted to swim further into the lake, but Goliath grabbed her leg. He yanked her from the water and threw her through the air. She crashed to the ground with a thud. She turned to see Goliath still struggling to get the glass out of his forearm. She had jammed it in so deep that his giant fingers were having trouble pulling it out.

Rona crawled to her feet. She half ran, half limped through the park, attempting to put as much distance between her and Goliath as possible. Every part of her body hurt. She could feel swelling forming over her eye. Blood ran freely from her nose. She tasted iron on her tongue. Her legs barely responded to commands as she made her way down the street. A couple of concerned onlookers rushed to her aid. “Back up!” snapped Rona. The people obeyed, allowing Rona to limp along unmolested. Only when she felt she had put enough distance between her and Goliath, did she stop for a breath. She wiped the blood from her nose and rubbed at her eye. Her breathing was labored and she found herself needing to close her eyes and focus in order to control it. She opened her eyes and looked around. She didn’t see Goliath anywhere. She placed her hand on the ground, closed her eyes and concentrated. She could feel the movements of thousands of different people in the area; each step indistinguishable from the next. Like a bee hive their movements buzzed, shaking the ground ever so slightly with each step. Cars and trucks, people and dogs, bikes and the occasional horse, all of them stirring; no rhythm or pattern to their movements. It was happening in every direction, all around Rona. She concentrated a little harder, trying to zero in. And then she felt it. Long strides, made by big feet, attached to a massive body, approaching fast. Goliath. He was tracking her. At that moment, Rona felt something she hadn’t felt in a very long time: fear. She had to keep moving. She dragged herself to her feet and limped along as quickly as she could.

The kid was right, she shouldn’t have come. No. She was going to have come face-to-face with Goliath sooner or later. She shouldn’t have accepted this mission, in the first place. What had she gotten herself into?  Silencing the voices in her head proved impossible as she wobbled down the sidewalk. He’s gaining on you. I hope not. You can’t beat him. I know. He’s going to kill you. You can’t beat him! You are going to fail! You are no warrior! You are a coward! Run, coward, run! Maybe you’ll live a few minutes longer. You will never get back into Heaven! Shut up. Shut Up. Shut Up!

There was no way she was going to be able to outrun him. She would need to make a stand at some point. If she was going to survive this, she had to start thinking like a warrior. You are not a warrior—Shut up! What would a warrior do? Higher ground. Higher ground. High-rise! She made her way toward downtown, attempting to hold herself upright and walk normally. She made it to the heart of LoDo, scanning the area carefully when out from behind a building walked Goliath.

Rona froze in horror.

Goliath smiled at her.

She bolted in the opposite direction, with Goliath in hot pursuit. The construction site was up ahead. Rona leaped over the fence and landed in the courtyard. Goliath followed suit, landing only a few strides behind her. Rona crashed through the door of the building, dodged the construction materials with the nimbleness of a cat. Goliath moved with similar fervor. Rona came across a piece of rebar, picked it up and swung it like a bat, catching Goliath in the temple. The blow sent him into the wall. Rona swung the bar at his knee this time. Goliath’s knee gave when Rona struck it, and he fell to one knee, his back against the wall. Rona swung the rebar over and over. Goliath blocked most of the blows with his forearms. Rona was in a mad fury until Goliath grabbed the end of the bar with his catcher’s mitt-like hands. Rona was unable to shake the bar free. She let it go and picked up another piece of rebar and swung it, catching Goliath on the jaw. She swung it again, but this time, Goliath blocked it with his bar. Sparks flew as the two battled back and forth with their newly acquired weapons. Goliath swung the bar expertly, blocking and parrying most of Rona’s attacks away from his head and body. Whenever Rona blocked one of Goliath’s attacks, the impact was still enough to knock her off balance. Instead she spun and dodge out of the way of Goliath’s rebar attacks, aiming her attacks low, at his knees where he wasn’t as proficient at blocking them.

“Excellent! You have gotten a second wind! You’re hurt and you’re afraid, but you have gathered yourself like a true warrior, and now you fight with more fury than before. I am impressed, Warrior Female,” said Goliath.

“I’m just getting warmed up,” said Rona, stepping just out of range to catch a breather.

“It takes more than being an efficient killer to be a great warrior. You show courage, grit, determination and intelligence. The signs of a true warrior! It is an honor to fight you, Warrior Female. I admire your confidence, even in the face of certain death,” said Goliath.

“David beat you and so can I,” said Rona defiantly.

Goliath’s face contorted with rage. “David was nothing! A speck of dust! A vermin! There is only one rule when warriors fight and David broke that rule. He was a coward and a cheater. And I would have shown him his end had he not exhibited such treachery! Do not speak the coward’s name again. I warn thee, Warrior Female.”

Rona smiled. “Oh Daaaavviiiid!”

Goliath charged, swinging his rebar like a club. Rona dodged his attacks, countering in between. She landed a couple of good ones on Goliath’s jaw, then ducked out of the way before he could respond.

“Oh Davy-boy! Where for art thou Davy-boy!” cried Rona a she dodged the increasingly sloppy attacks of Goliath. Eventually Goliath dropped his rebar. He grabbed Rona’s and spun her around in a circle, releasing her and sending her flying into a wall. She sprung back to her feet and bolted around the corner.

She popped her head out from around the wall. “David,” she said and then took off running.

The balcony that Pitroth had hit with a blast was still a collapsed mess, but the steps leading to the second floor were mostly intact. Rona reached the staircase with Goliath hot on her heels. She sprinted up the steps as fast as she could. Goliath was able to keep pace and Rona had to leap forward to avoid his grasp when he reached out for her. Goliath tore through the staircase, ripping down banisters and taking the steps several at a time. Rather than scrunching himself to fit he was remaking the hallway to fit him.

Rona retraced her steps from the first time she had come to this building, bursting through the door on the same floor, leaping through the window, and onto the ledge. She leaped from the ledge and onto the rooftop of a shorter building nearby, just as Goliath’s hand reached out for her. Wasting no time, Goliath followed, landing a few seconds later.

He looked around.

Anger showed clearly on his face as he searched.

Then Rona sprang from her hiding space and landed a flying kick with both feet to Goliath’s face. It toppled him. He rolled over backwards, before regrouping. By that time, Rona was on him, landing kicks and punches to every available target. She dodged most of his attacks except for a counter right hand that sent her sprawling backwards. She sprang back to her feet just as quickly as she’d fallen. Goliath dusted himself off and laughed. A hearty, booming sound.

“Just when I think I’ve got you figured, you surprise me. Psychological warfare. Attempting to make me angry so that my emotions get the best of me. Well played, Warrior Female,” said Goliath.

Damn, thought Rona. She turned and ran as fast as she could across the rooftop. Goliath pursued. Rona leaped over to the building across the street. Goliath did the same, although he landed a bit more clumsily. There was only one thing Rona had been consistently able to do in this fight, and that was get Goliath to follow her. He was fast—almost as fast as she was. And he had seemingly limitless stamina. But Rona did have one advantage at the moment.

She had done this before.

Albeit, once, but she was confident that she could get Goliath to slip up at some point. She leaped across to the next building and kept running. The next building was a bigger leap. She would need to gather every ounce of strength she had left. Once she reached the edge of the building she jumped at the perfect time landing expertly on the roof of the other building. The timing of Goliath’s jump hadn’t been as perfect. He landed on the roof but struggled to maintain balance on the ledge. Rona took full advantage of the opportunity. She doubled back, and landed a kick to Goliath’s solar plexus. Goliath would likely have shrugged off the blow normally, but while standing off balance, on the ledge of a tall building—it was devastating. He fell backwards and crash landed on the landing several stories below. He gathered himself and made it to his feet, but Rona didn’t give him a chance to recover. She leaped onto Goliath’s back, wrapped her legs around his torso and her arms around his neck. She buried her forehead in the back of his head and squeezed his neck tight, using both arms to apply pressure. Goliath flailed wildly, attempting to grab a hold of her, but she was able to shift her position out of reach. He tried to pry her legs from around his torso, but she held fast. He did manage to grab a loch of her hair, but Rona held tight. She never let up her squeeze. Goliath’s flailing grew weaker and slower, his movements, less focused as he stumbled around on the building. He was walking himself to the edge of the building. Rona leaped from his back, just as Goliath’s legs gave out and he dropped over the edge. Even though they had fallen several stories from the roof, they were still a good ten or twelve stories up. Rona watched as the unconscious Goliath fell every one of them. He landed on the sidewalk with full impact, scaring a couple that was walking by. Rona watched with bated breath. Goliath didn’t move for several seconds. And then he slowly began to stir, sitting up and rubbing his head. He looked up at Rona and smiled.

He smiled!

You can’t beat him—shut up.

“Well done, Warrior Female!” Goliath’s voice boomed.

She could hear him—ten stories up!

“It is your victory, tonight. Celebrate and be hearty! I have enjoyed this. We shall do it again later.”

Goliath turned to the couple, a man and woman, huddled together, staring at him in shock. The man cried out when Goliath looked at him. Goliath shook his head in disgust. “He is a coward. You should leave him,” said Goliath to the woman, and with then he walked away.

Rona crumpled to the floor.

 

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