by Gordon Houghton
Copyright 2010 Gordon Houghton
for all the many friends I've made online
CHAPTER 1: SOUL CALIBUR
The power. The control. The lightness of the weapon in my hand. I soar across the valley and land with the softest of footfalls. No one hears me. No one sees me until it’s too late. I am the Angel of Death descending upon my enemies.
I run, a frenzy of running, my fingers twitching over the twin triggers; I leap across a narrow stream and wait. But there’s no one else here, not even him. They’re hiding. They’re afraid. I hear panicked gunfire in the distance and smile, wondering if the killing has already begun. I glide toward the sound on feet of air — and I am in the zone now. My whole being shrinks to hands that bond with the buttons they press, eyes that see only a landscape of rocks, trees and crags. I am absorbed by this world, it wraps me in wonder, it’s like being a child again, nothing else matters. And I surrender myself gladly. I am at ease here, in this place of birdsong and water and death.
One of my opponents has made the kill. I know it’s him, I don’t need to bring up the stats. He always follows the same pattern: he wipes out the others, then he comes for me. It’s a way of demonstrating his superiority; worse than that, it disturbs my concentration. Instant reflexes, minor muscle adjustments and the ability to learn and analyse your enemy’s behaviour are vital to a killer’s armoury; but without a cool, efficient mind, they’re useless. I sense the inevitability of defeat… But perhaps this time will be different, this time I’ll win. If I can attack when he’s distracted, or find a secure place to deliver the one shot that will defeat him — the fatal head wound — I can be the last man standing after all.