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How we think the fight will go
How Stacia Kane, creator of Chess Putnam, thinks the match will go:
Chess had hit the steps at the front of her building—a former Catholic church, converted to apartments after haunted Week and the fall of religions—when her tattoos started to tingle. Magic. Someone was doing magic, and close enough to her that she felt it, could almost smell it.
Someone powerful. This wasn’t an average person testing out spells from a guide they bought in a store. This was someone trained, someone strong.
Someone who was watching her.
She reached into her pocket and closed her fingers around the handle of her switchblade. Yeah, if someone was going to try using magic against her the knife might not be the best weapon to try first, but it was probably what she’d try at the end. Might as well skip the middleman, so to speak.
The burning, stinging feeling as the magic-infused ink on her arms, shoulders, and chest reacted to whatever spell was happening around her intensified. Okay, where was he—it was definitely a man—and what did he want?
Damn it, she didn’t know what he wanted, but she; just wanted to go to bed.
Instead she stood there on the broken sidewalk, tense and waiting. Whoever it was, whatever they were doing, she’d find out soon enough.
And sure enough, she did. He slipped out from behind one of the walls bracketing the steps, wearing some sort of poncho or something, his feet silent on the concrete. The streetlight in front of her building was broken but the one halfway down worked well enough for her to see his face, the half-smile plastered across it. Like lurking around waiting for lone women to show up was funny or something.
Then again, it probably was to him. Because he was probably psychotic. Great. A psycho with magic, just what she needed.
What kind of spell was he doing, anyway? She couldn’t tell; all she knew was he was doing something, and that the smoke drifted across the twenty feet or so separating them smelled oddly of metal. What was he burning?
That thought barely had time to finish forming before it hit her. Something hit her, she didn’t know what; all she knew was that her mind—never the most pleasant of places to be anyway—filled with horror and pain, filled with memories, and the sharp smell of the metal-smoke filled her nose and made her choke. No, shit, all that—all those thoughts in her head, all those thoughts she tried so hard to forget, those thoughts she tried to hide under a thick blanket of pills and powders and whatever else she could get her hands on, anything to quiet the screams in her soul enough that she could get through the day…all of them roared back, and she felt her knees give beneath her and hit the hard ground and couldn’t even care, because her head was about to explode.
What was he doing, how was he doing that? He was in her head somehow, rummaging around like she was hiding a prize in her brainstem and he just had to grab it. He was in her head inspecting everything, looking at her weaknesses with smug, sick satisfaction, and hatred rose in her chest so thick she thought if she opened her mouth it would fly out like vomit. Another one. Another person who thought she existed for their amusement, who thought they could toy with her, play games with her, treat her like a toy. Fuck him.
Her bag moved at her side. Lifted from the ground, threw itself forward, the thick rough strap burning her skin as it tore itself off her body. The red haze before her eyes cleared just enough that she saw it fly across the empty pavement and land in front of him. How did he—how had he done that? Magic didn’t work against objects like that, magic wasn’t like some special-effects movie where people could move shit with their minds.
His smile hadn’t faded. Didn’t fade as the bag opened, as her sack of iron filings rose from it to hover a few feet off the ground. As she watched the sack opened, too; the filings rose from it in a black cloud. What the hell? What was he?
He was a thief, apparently, because he ducked under the thick mist of iron and started digging around in her bag, lifting things and inspecting them, shoving some of them under that stupid poncho-thing he wore. Was he kidding? He’d done that to her, invaded her head, just to steal fifty bucks and some magic supplies?
Even as she thought it he slammed into her mind again. More memories, more pain, more twisting agony as her head filled with images, fists aimed at her face, heavy bodies holding hers down.
Her attacker stood up. “Thank you. I suppose it isn’t much, but it’s something.”
He started to turn away from her, still with that satisfied smirk on his irritating face, clearly done with the whole thing. Secure in his victory, as he left her there on the sidewalk with her head screaming and tears running down her face, her muscles shaking from the images that still refused to stop.
But if he thought showing her a few mind-movies of her past was going to debilitate her he needed to think again. He clearly had no idea who he was dealing with; hell, if she hadn’t learned how to function with all that garbage in her head she’d never get anything done at all, would she? He wasn’t showing her anything she didn’t already know, wasn’t making her feel any worse than she already did because that just wasn’t possible.
So she pushed past them. She reached into them, embraced them, took from them what she needed: her rage, her hatred, emotions so strong and thick she thought they might choke her. She turned those into power, and pushed herself off the ground.
He turned back around. The cloud of iron filings flew at her; she had just enough time to close her eyes, hold her breath, before she felt them like a thousand glass raindrops piercing her skin. It hurt. But not enough to stop her.
His hands raised, his poncho moved. Probably getting ready to do some other metal-magic thing. Chess didn’t care. She was almost on him, almost there, she tugged her knife from her pocket and punched the button to flick out the blade, and her body hit his and they both fell to the cement.
Another wave of memories, of horror. Another choking blast of that stinging smoke, and her tattoos roared as his power slammed into hers. She ignored all of it. He fought beneath her, pushed himself up—he was stronger than he looked—and punched her in the face.
The world shook for a second, but only a second. Was that the best he could do? She’d dealt with much worse than that.
Something sharp sliced into her arm. No time to look or see what it was, not even when it was joined by a second thing, a third, and she felt hot blood drooling down her skin. How was he stabbing her, when his arms weren’t free?
Who cared? Not her. All she cared about was getting this done, teaching this smug-looking jerk that nobody, nobody, invaded her head, invaded her body, used her for amusement. Not any more, not ever again.
She punched him back with her left hand, readied herself to attack with her knife with her right, when it flew out of her hand just like he’d snatched it away from her. Damn it. He seemed to have some sort of weird power over metals—and brains, apparently.
Okay, but which metals? Iron, and steel. What other weapons did she have, what could she use?
He’d left her pillbox. It was metal—silver. What did that mean?
And would she have time to find out. His fingers closed around her throat; he leaned over, pushing her back down. Choking her. Red and green spots exploded before her eyes; she kicked at him, punched and slapped at him.
Her lungs screamed for air. Her brain screamed from the memories. Her vision shook and jangled but she saw her bag, the strap only a few inches away; she just needed to get to it, surely she had something in there she could use, something she could hurt him with. At that point she didn’t even care about killing him—well, no, that was a lie, she wanted to kill him a whole lot—but she wanted to hurt him, too, wanted him to feel it.
She forced herself to relax. She didn’t even need to play dead, she just needed to go limp for a second, just long enough for him to shift his grip, to loosen it. Just long enough for him to feel confident.
It happened. The fingers around her throat relaxed, not much but enough, and that was all Chess needed. She lunged to the side and yanked the strap of her bag, lifting her arm so it swung through the air and hit him on the side of the head.
It didn’t really hurt him. She didn’t really expect it to. She just wanted to distract him, and it worked. Worked for long enough for her to slam the heel of her hand into his nose, hard and fast, and that gave her enough time to push him off of her and sit up, already digging in her bag. There had to be something she could use, anything she could—
Her hand closed around her pillbox. Heavy silver, pure silver. He’d left it, he hadn’t taken it, and given his apparent metal mojo that had to mean something. So she clenched it in her fist and brought her hand up—he’d pulled a shiny blade from somewhere, and she let him drive it into her arm because she didn’t have time to stop him—and slammed it into his head with every bit of strength she could muster.
Pain. Pain from the knife in her left arm, pain jangling up her right from the impact. Her pillbox had sharp corners, intricate filigree on the sides; the corner had broken the skin, and she watched the blood pouring down the side of his face with hot, vengeful glee.
And then she hit him again. And again. He stabbed at her with the knife but she ducked out of the way this time, and it was easy because his movements were slowing and she kept hitting him until he toppled over. Her arms hurt, her body hurt, her fingers were slick with blood and gore, but she kept going.
Feeble hands pushed at hers, trying to stop her next blow, but she ignored them. He made one last attempt to—well, not to beat her, she guessed, since the rapidly-spreading pool of blood and the way his face started to look like a dented-in fender kind of indicated that wasn’t going to happen—but to mess with her, to get his own back. One more push into her head, one more rummage in her memories.
One more time with the pillbox, square in the face, and she was done. She dug through his clothes, taking back what he’d stolen from her and shoving it all back into her bag, and stood up. It was coins sticking out of her arm, she realized; he’d somehow managed to fling them at her, or use his mind to throw them or something, which made sense given the whole iron-filings-cloud thing.
She stood over him, looked down. His breath rattled in his chest, a horrible sucking kind of sound that would have bothered her if she hadn’t been so pissed off.
“Nobody gets in my head,” she said, and left him there to die.
Predicted Winner: Chess Putnam
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 15th, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
Kelsier image courtesy of Ben McSweeney. Chess Putnam image courtesy of Del Rey Books
Don’t forget–we’re always looking for fans’ depictions of these characters. Check out the details here
Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”