Chapter 5, part 2
Jake was huddled behind a duranium block, holding his rocket launcher. Holo was right next to him, and he knew that they could not hide behind this block forever.
“This looks like the end for Team UFP!” announced Dallas.
“Heamatitus advances towards Jake and Holo, preparing to finish them off,” said Juanita.
“Such a pity, I rather liked Team UFP,” said Dallas sadly.
“I’ll distract him,” said Holo. “And you fire a rocket at him.”
“I’m down to my last round,” said Jake, and he felt Holo’s order was somewhat pointless.
“We go down fighting,” said Holo, sounding almost brave and determined, “and not cowering behind some duranium block!”
Jake could not agree more, he had seen first Nog and then Ezri go down, and those two had not been hiding behind cover. “Let’s do it!” he said grimly.
Holo ran to Jake’s right, and Jake went around the left of the block. There was Heamatitus advancing towards him. Jake readied his rocket launcher and was about to fire, when Heamatitus suddenly turned leftwards, his walker's left leg been dragged along, aiming for Holo.
Jake took his chances and fired the rocket, aiming for the centre of the machine’s back. The rocket missed the back of machine, and instead directly hit one of the shoulder mounted plasma guns. It exploded and for a moment the top half of Heamatitus’ machine was enveloped in a yellow and orange fireball.
When the explosion had cleared, Jake was astounded to see a huge gash running along the top of the machine’s shoulder, and the top of the right arm twisted and mangled. He had got lucky and realised with that hit he had done considerably more damage then even he could have imagined.
“My God that was a good shot!” exclaimed Dallas who sounded thunderstruck.
“And Heamatitus is now in serious trouble!” observed Juanita.
Dallas was shaking his head in disbelieve. “What an unbelievable turnaround in fortune!”
The exoskeleton walker's legs were stationary, but the torso was jerking slightly from side to side. Suddenly the hands gripping the swords slackened, and the swords fell to the ground with an almighty clatter. Then the left knee buckled, and this time the machine leant backwards. It seemed Heamatitus had lost control of the exoskeleton walker.
Jake watched as the machine toppled backwards, making a colossal crunch against the floor.
Ezri stirred, and though she felt the very life taken from her body, she was still somehow alive. She saw Holo looking down at her, and for a moment she wondered what had happened.
“Where’s Heamatitus?” was the first thing she said.
“Jake and I managed to disable his exoskeleton machine,” replied Holo. “You had a close brush with death, but Nog gave you an injection of nanites. Without that injection you would have probably died.”
Turning her head to one side, she saw the machine strewn across the ground, lying flat on its back.
Seeing this gave Ezri the strength to get up, and with some assistance from Holo, she got onto her feet. She was still in pain, but she could just move her limbs. Looking around she spotted Nog, he seemed just as wounded as her. “Thanks for saving me,” she said gratefully.
Nog simply gave her a nod, and in that moment Ezri realized that Nog would give his life to protect her.
She started moving towards the exoskeleton machine, and as she did so she became aware of the crowd’s cheering. The cheers grew even louder as she walked, and she wondered if this match had ended. “Is Heamatitus dead?” she asked Holo.
“No,” said Holo, with a shake of his head. “He’s still in his exoskeleton machine, Jake is guarding him.”
“Who’s going to kill him?” asked Nog, and he sounded a little disgusted by this.
“I will,” said Ezri wearily.
“I could do it,” said Holo, who sounded even more devoid of humanoid emotion.
“No,” said Ezri firmly. “When you’re programming deactivates, you will feel the consequences of killing Heamatitus… I don’t want any of you bearing that burden.”
“Couldn’t we spare his life?” suggested Nog hopefully.
“The crowd want him dead Nog!” said Ezri angrily, she could not understand why Nog did not grasp this. “The commentators went him dead, as do Apocalypse. This match will only end when Heamatitus has been slain!”
“Are you really going to kill him?”
“I have no choice!” said Ezri bitterly, though she wished she did have a choice.
Dallas looked highly animated now that the match was coming to an end. “This will be one exterminator match that will be talked about for years to come! A truly dramatic comeback from Team UFP!”
Juanita though gave Dallas a questioning look. “And now all that remains is for Heamatitus to be killed. Who do you think Dallas will kill him?”
“It hast to be Ezri...” replied Dallas confidently.
Finally Ezri came to the stricken exoskeleton machine, and saw Jake standing over the top of the machine.
She walked over to where Heamatitus was, and then walked on top of his machine. Walking over the burnt and battered armour, surrounding Heamatitus’s body, Ezri came to a stop with her feet right at the tip of the armour. Just below her was Heamatitus, and the upper part of his body was visible. He had clearly tried to get out of his machine, but his injuries had stopped him.
Ezri looked down at the bloodied and burnt Heamatitus, parts of his face were blackened and charred from the burns. But what really struck Ezri, were those calm eyes. They seemed to be urging her to kill him.
The crowd had grown even louder, and they were now chanting ‘Kill! Kill!’ at the tops of their voices.
Slowly and miserably Ezri pulled out her phaser rifle, but she did not aim it.
“You should get this over with quick you know,” came Heamatitus’ throaty and weak voice. “The mob doesn’t like waiting for the final blow to come…”
“I don’t want to kill you,” said Ezri softly.
“I’m just one person,” explained Heamatitus, “and why does one more dead person matter to you?”
“It matters because I don’t want to kill someone out of cold blood!” hissed Ezri.
“If you don’t kill me, then we all die!” snarled Heamatitus, and he looked beside himself with frustration and rage. “Just pull the trigger and be done with it!”
“I won’t,” said Ezri simply.
“Listen give me a respectable death,” urged Heamatitus, he seemed to be pleading with Ezri. “The match is over, my time is over, and I won’t shy away from death.”
Still Ezri hesitated, despite Heamatitus urging her to kill him.
“What’s this?” mentioned Dallas, sounding deeply disapproving. “It seems Ezri is reluctant to kill Heamatitus!”
Juanita still seemed to be smarting about Heamatitus’ defeat. But she appeared eager to talk down Team UFP, and with barely suppressed glee she said, “I have constantly maintained that it was a bad idea training Starfleet officers into gladiators. They lack the ruthlessness and drive to take another life!”
Ezri could hear the crowd’s cheers start to wane, and realised that if the crowd started booing, her team’s collars could be activated. She raised her rifle and aimed it straight at Heamatitus’ head. The crowd’s cheers increased considerably, as did the chanting.
But Ezri ignored all of that, she was looking into the face of Heamatitus, who looked remarkably composed as he was so close to death. Finally some cold and ruthless part of Ezri overrode her objections, and she felt her hand squeeze the trigger.
A yellow round discharged from her rifle, and struck Heamatitus squarely in the forehead, he was dead instantly.
“That's it!” shouted Juanita, over the roar of the crowd. “One our of most experienced gladiators has been slaughtered by the hands of Team UFP!”
Ezri watched the blood pour out of the inch wide wound, and she felt absolutely disgusted with herself. Even though Heamatitus had nearly killed her, she would have much preferred killing him while actually fighting.
Killing while fighting made sense to her, as she was defending herself to stay alive. But killing a humanoid who was defenceless, just because she had to kill him, felt like murder to Ezri. If this were any other situation, Heamatitus would not have been killed in cold blood.
She jumped off the exoskeleton machine, and walked over to Holo (whose Apocalypse programming had deactivated), Jake and Nog. The crowd were cheering like she had never heard them cheer before, but she did not care about the crowd. In an angered motion she chucked her phaser rifle to the floor, and looked around at the ground.
“Is this what you wanted?” she shouted in the direction of the arena's stands, though she knew no one in the crowd would hear her. “To see me blast Heamatitus’ brains out?”
Her legs were now walking of their accord, and she removed her helmet, and chucked that to the floor as well. Ezri needed to breathe and she felt so detached that she did not even see the platform Dallas and Juanita were on, float downwards. She did not even see Dallas and Juanita step off the platform and onto the ground.
“And to top it off,” said Dallas excitedly, “here is the man, sorry, woman of the match! Ezri Dax!”
Juanita pressed a microphone close to Ezri’s mouth. “How do feel winning your first exterminator match!”
Ezri though slapped aside the microphone, she was not going to answer any of Juanita’s or Dallas’ stupid questions.
“Woah!” exclaimed Dallas. “This is one gladiator who is really pissed off!”
Dallas looked super cocky, and he stepped in front of Ezri, blocking her path. “But tell me what did it feel like killing Heamatitus?”
“Get out of my way,” said Ezri slowly, her every syllable sounding dangerous.
However Dallas did not seem to realise the danger, and he thrust his microphone close to Ezri’s mouth. “Come on don’t be shy,” taunted Dallas, “there’s nothing to be afraid of-”
That was the last thing Dallas said, because Ezri launched towards him, sending a fist straight to that stupid, cocky and leering mouth of his. She felt a whole tonne of Dallas’ teeth dislodge, but she was so angry she did not stop there. With her other fist she punched Dallas hard in the stomach, and he doubled over. She then pulled her forearms together, her hands clenched as one, and brought them down hard on the top of Dallas’ back.
She felt some of the vertebrae in Dallas’ spine break, but still she could not stop. With her left hand she grabbed onto the collar of Dallas’ orange shirt to hold him. While her right hand, curled in a fist, smashed hard against Dallas’ face. Finally she let go of Dallas, and with one well aimed kick, aimed her boot straight at Dallas’ groin. She heard a faint crack, and that must have been Dallas’ pelvis bone shattering.
Dallas fell to the floor hard, his face a bloody mess. He was whimpering in pain, and looking at Ezri with the utmost terror.
Juanita had taken half a dozen steps away from Ezri, afraid that Ezri would pound her to a bloody pulp, or possibly kill her.
Ezri though had vented out her anger, and though she had battered Dallas, it was nowhere near enough to kill him. It was what Dallas deserved, for constantly gloating at other gladiator’s pain, and for being such an arrogant bastard.
She walked away from Dallas, picked up her helmet and rifle, and returned back to her team. They all look stunned by what she had done, but she did not care what they thought of her. The crowd were cheering even louder, clearly excited by Ezri’s flattening of Dallas, and Ezri was relieved to see an Apocalypse transport ship land on the platform.
She wanted nothing more than to leave this arena, away from the cheering crowds, and from the death and destruction. Her only consolation was that neither Jake, Holo or Nog had to feel what she feeling at the moment; guilt and self-disgust.