The high-pitched sound of the slash was followed by the awful crushing noise of the blade burrowing into flesh and bone.
The first thing I saw was my left arm. I tried to move it away from me, but it wouldn’t budge. I noticed the blood gathering at my elbow and dripping to the ground. I felt a strong push the was accompanied by a deep sense of pain, clearing my head up and making me realize the situation.
I stood right in front of Ruko. I managed to stop her strike by blocking the machete with my arm. She cut me with all her might, but luckily my bones caught the edge, keeping both of us from moving.
She was keenly staring at me from behind her locks, kept together by a thick layer of dirt. I piqued her interest with my actions. This was the second time I prevented her from killing Yeffen, such a thing was inconceivable for her. Usually she murders everyone before they could even react and she can simply carry on without the weight of the act ever catching up to her.
But this situation was different. First, she met a Target who knew her and even made her feel something. And now, the Target was protected by another Target, one that she surely killed not long ago. Nothing was adding up today, she had to end it all quickly and revert back to her previous state of nothingness.
A horizontal slice to the neck with the other knife. I ducked out of the way. Next, sever the left hand then stab through the heart with the freed blade. Before she could set her plan into motion I slammed into her with my right shoulder, removing the machete from my forearm in the process.
I had no means to explain, but I could precisely predict Ruko’s every attack from her muscle movement. Even more amazing, I was able to move with a speed that allowed me to avoid everything in the most optimal way possible.
Ruko was struck by surprise. I evaded her killing blows and even increased our distance without losing ground. Another feeling took root in her soul, a different kind of anger, one that was not directed towards others, but in the direction her own shortcomings. This new emotion felt all too familiar to her somehow.
I saw the next barrage of swings and piercing strikes coming. Without much thinking I was dodging out of the edges’ trajectory while making sure to keep Yeffen behind me at all times. As Ruko was getting more and more frustrated by her attacks missing their target I spotted an opening in her defense. I moved in without giving it any thought and I punched her in the stomach.
The direct hit caused her to cough weakly while stumbling back a few steps, hunching from the pain. I didn’t realize it in the heat of the moment, but I got her in a critical spot with quite a lot of force. She was dazed, having a hard time catching her breath for a while. My mind and body were prompting me to take advantage of the situation and attack her now, incapacitating her before she recovers, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it.
Even though I knew that simply dodging her won’t save anyone I was still hesitant to consciously hurt her. I wanted to have the resolve to ignore my doubts and pass through any boundary to save my allies. The only solution I could think of was to steel myself and make Ruko unable to continue fighting for long enough to escape with everyone, but I couldn’t even guess if such a goal was achievable. For the time being, I could match her in combat, but that was only due to the syringe’s boost, an unknown factor. It was in the realm of possibilities that the effects would soon wear off; if that happened she’d turn me into minced meat the moment I lagged behind for a pace. I had no choice but to act immediately and try to defeat her without thinking about the chances of my plan failing in any way or the guilt I might feel even if I succeed.
I rushed forward. Ruko was still trying to get up after the initial shock, but as soon as she caught onto my intentions she mechanically took up an offensive stance. Once I got into her reach, she threw a horizontal swipe in chest height. Following the first move, she burst into a flurry of attacks, not leaving any time for anything else but evasion.
I figured her strategy was to overwhelm me until I made an error she could capitalize on. A duel of attrition would be the worst possible scenario considering that I couldn’t even guess when my stamina would run out, making it impossible for me to formulate a sound plan. I had to find a way to break out of her unrelenting onslaught…
On the other side of the machetes Ruko was distraught. This battle was an occurrence she thought to be impossible. Someone stood up to her in close range combat, more than that, she was pushed back and was almost forced to be on the defensive. Just the thought of not having complete control over a situation was too frightening for her to even process. She was no longer attacking in optimal patterns, she was solely focusing on finding that one time where I would fail to correctly predict her, granting her the kill she was all too eager to achieve.
From the storm of blades surrounding me, an offhand strike from my left eluded my watch and bit me right in between my ribs. A sudden feeling of satisfaction and relief has filled Ruko. She did it, she killed the Target. Her purpose was fulfilled, she no longer had to care about anything. The oblivion her mind inhabited for so long could once more be her plane all alone. No more questions, no more fear. Her self can be buried along with Yeffen.