Tales of Gunmages and Cyber-gladiators

Garnet blinked awake slowly, woken by the distant cheer of a loud crowd as he lay on his back. He looked up at the green sky, a trio of pink whales floating in the distance. As his senses returned he remembered. Last night he played the Busted Lode tavern: earning drinks for trick shots, some cards. He remembers winning, but then he always remembers it that way. The miners loved the booze, gambling and debauchery that can only be had just outside the influence of the major mining concerns. They were a rowdy sort but mostly friendly.

He shook his head and felt the brass rune bullets across his chest, and ornate pistols at his hip. Whoever dragged him here left his weapons. Sitting up and looking around he saw the crowd ringed in raised stands, looking down at him in the centre. Then it fell into place as he saw ten cyber-gladiators running towards him.

He sprang to his feet in an instant, guns in hand and already firing his first shot. It struck the lead gladiator in the chest: the power killing him instantly and hurling his ragdoll corpse back into the pack, knocking them down like skittles. One kept his feet, leaping over the flying bodies and slamming a Fusion Halberd downwards, metallic arm driving with all his might. Garnet stepped sideways, spinning backwards to gain distance. The halberd slammed into the ground, then quickly reversed to point at the gun mage. The other pistol went off: richocheting off the shoulderpad. In a trail of blue the wayward shot turned to hit one of the rear fighters in the back of the head. Garnet’s hands worked in a blur: spiking his mechanika for speed as he slammed a new cartridge into the chamber. The gladiator’s next thrust of the spear came upwards at Garnet’s head, he ducked under and fired the second pistol into the gladiator’s exposed fleshy chest with an explosion of gore out the back.

Garnet kept moving backwards to reload his guns, seeing the group had regained their feet and were spreading out in front, more wary of rushing as a pack. He heard the reassuring thrum of his arc receiver, the glow rushing to empower his pistols. An arc mast was visible above the crowd: the arena had prepared for theurges to put on a show. Without this he was just a skilled sharpshooter: and hitting an apple at 50 paces can only get you so far.

Happy with their spacing, the gladiators rushed from all directions. Garnet’s arms pointed to his sides as he span and the world seemed to slow. The first 2 booms struck opposite corners with an ear-splitting explosion, leaving rags of charred flesh and burnt cybernetics in both directions. Garnet’s arms waved in a blur, reloading as he spun to shoot again, albeit with his power burnt out. The third shot struck a man in the face. The fourth hit another man’s chest but bounced off an internal metal plate, knocking him over bleeding but alive. All 4 shots in an instant, the crowd could only see 2 explosions, one headshot and one wounded, but three gladiators still coming.

Garnet backflipped through a charred corpse to put one charger out of range, as a net from the first blow sweeping past him. The next strike came from the other side, with a backhand slap of a Kinetic Claw. Garnet’s upper arm was struck by the piston-enhanced strike, the gunmage grunting in pain as he leapt into a roll. He tumbled to his feet clumsily, his arm hung broken by his side, only barely gripping his beloved gun. The clawed gladiator kept rushing forwards in the frenzy, Garnet’s adrenaline pushed him to a run, with one arm, no bullets in the chamber, and no arc he could not fight. Sprinting to the opposite side of the arena, he heard the boos of the crowd: no matter, he never came here to entertain them. 

Garnet sprinted to the walls where his agility served him well – gaining pace to kick up with the first step, land the second foot higher, and push away over the thrusting pincer grip of his foe. Looking towards the ground, the glow return to his guns, and he used his momentum to lash out at the next cyber warrior. The pistol swung club style into a metal skull – the empowered blunt force crushing the neck under it. Desperately Garnet’s good arm threw its gun backwards, slamming Pinchy the clawman half into the wall. Pausing briefly he grabbed the second weapon from his limp arm, tossed it into the air and pushed a new cartridge in before catching it. The last 2 were advancing on him: he aimed the gun aimed between them and fired. The bright blue trail of the bullet seemed to move in slow motion. Garnet pushed his will through it: the brass shot split in half sending a shard through each attacker’s chest.

His power was exhausted and he was panting for breath through the pain of a broken arm. He reloaded his gun more slowly against his chest and advanced on one of the downed men. The slumped brute was bleeding and breathing heavily, but still alive. Garnet melodramatically looked up at the crowd, as if they should decide the slave’s fate. But quickly remembered he didn’t care: the gun went off and the battle was over. Holstering one gun he walked to retrieve the other. As he packed up a pair of heavily armoured guards approached to calmly but firmly escort him away. He followed them, unsure of his future.

Looking back toward the sands: a metal faced, many armed hulk inspected the corpses, picking out a few choice mechanika. He shuddered as he realised that the same monster was going to fix his arm later.

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