Fighting Styles

A science fiction story in Red Scythe by Gary Bloom

Characters: Tudor Lom, Ruddell Sled, Hyde Fellows

Tudor Lom took a punch to the face, and another to the gut. By this point his left eye was swelling shut. This part of the asteroid belt was tougher to navigate. He hoped he'd be able to see. That was, of course, if he got out.

Routine deliveries were cash. This was standard stuff. His client had some sort of episode, however, and attacked him. No one else seemed capable of, or interested in, stopping the muscle-bound miner.

Ferric Storm worked to teach all of the Red Scythe proper hand-to-hand combat techniques. Tudor hadn't paid too much attention. He was suffering worse punishment than his instructor would dole out. Another ham-fisted swing ripped through the air as Lom ducked.

Falling to his knees, the pilot happened upon an idea. Surging forward with every shred of strength, Tudor buried his crown in his assailant's groin. He followed up with a sharp elbow to the knee. The raging customer crumpled, whimpering. Standing up slowly, Tudor stomped on the already injured knee twice, for good measure.

"Playing a little dirty, there, aren't you"

Lom looked over at the short old woman. She had her arms crossed, and a scowl on her lips.

"Really..." he struggled for a response. "So, you people were content to just sit there and watch me get beaten to a pulp, and I'm playing dirty."

"We're used to his issues. It's your fault, moron," she spat back. "You should've been prepared."

"Just like you'd be prepared if Hardbarger came down here to stomp him into a stain."

"Oh please, you aren't that important!"

"No, I'm not important. Thing is, his money is super important. Replacing a pilot, and a ship, and the money you didn't pay for this delivery, amounts to lost money for Hardbarger. That makes him violent."

"Ah, right. Violent." She turned to one of the slimmer, younger men. "Pay the man and get him the hell out of here."

Sitting in the mess back at Red Scythe headquarters Tudor was recounting the story. Around him, his fellow pilots were chuckling.

"So you just nailed him in the junk," Hyde guffawed, that's classic.

"Way to man up Lom," Sled shook his head, a smirk on his face.

"You know," Ferric Storm commented, walking over from his table, "if you want, I could run you through some drills again. If you pay attention this time, you might not have that pretty shiner."

"Nah, thanks, I'm good kicking people in the junk."