Carpathia III: Episode 117: A Friend's Request


Volcano, Yseri, Volcanic Colosseum

First it was disbelief, and then denial. Toma grabbed his ear, nervously rubbing the tip. Unable to comprehend what he was seeing, he shakily raised his finger and pointed at Hanif. He had to shout to reach Hanif over the din of the crowd.

Toma: Y... you? What are you doing here?

Hanif looked away before slowly plodding toward Toma. Clenching his fists, Toma remained where he was as tears started sliding down his cheeks.

Hanif: I'm sorry that I deceived you. I arranged this and made sure you didn't find out.

Toma, still standing where he was, termbling, was awash in emotions and he didn't know what to do with any of them. Sadness. Anger. Betrayal.

Toma: You're sorry?!? Is this what you've been planning all this time? Being nice to set me up for a nice, easy Red match for you?

Toma buried his face in his hands. Meanwhile, the crowd was getting restless and began to chant. "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

Hanif: No, Toma. What I told you before is still true. I am going to make sure my protégé is on the winning side.

It took time for Toma's mind to digest this new information. Slowly, he removed his hands from his face and gazed up at Hanif quizzically.

Hanif: I'm tired, Toma. I want to leave this world at the hands of someone I trust.

Toma took a step back, shaking his head, unsure if this new revelation was any better than what he'd originally thought. The crowd was still chanting, though neither of them paid any attention to their impatience.

Toma: No! I won't!

Hanif cracked his knuckles and pulled his fist behind his head.

Hanif: Then I will make you!

Hanif swung powerfully at Toma, who deftly dodged by leaping backward. There was no chance, however, for even a slight pause, as Hanif followed his punch with a kick, which Toma dodged again. On and on, this dance continued, resulting in a show of Hanif essentially chasing Toma around the arena. The crowd registered their displeasure with a chorus of loud boos.

Hanif: Fight me!

Toma: No!

Hanif became even more aggressive, giving Toma no chance for any sort of respite. Finally came a fierce punch that Toma could only block. Though he put up his arms in time to deflect the blow, it was still powerfull enough to knock him backward into the arena wall. Hanif bounded forward, fist raised and aimed directly at Toma's head. Toma ducked just before Hanif's blow connected and he slid between Hanif's legs. Instinctively, Toma flipped on his back and kicked hard at the backs of Hanif's knees. Hanif fell head first into the arena wall.

Toma knew he could have ended the fight there, but his instinct faded, hesitating as he realized what he was about to do. Hanif stood, wiping blood from his brow. The crowd now cheered, pleased that a real fight was taking place.

Hanif: Very good! When you finish me, just make sure you do it quick!

Hanif swung his fist at Toma again and Toma leaped backward once more.

Toma: There has to be another way!

Toma ducked and dodged another vicious flurry of attacks. If he'd wanted, Hanif could have defeated Toma easily, but he always stopped short of harming him.

Hanif: There is no other way!

Toma's sadness now started to give way to anger. Of course there was another way, he thought.

Toma: If you want to die so badly, just hang yourself!

Toma kicked at Hanif hard, but the distance between them ensured that he only connected lightly. Hanif slid back only slightly.

Hanif: I want to choose the way of my death!

Toma: That's selfish!

Hanif once again adopted a fighting stance, parting his legs and bending his knees.

Hanif: There are no friends in the arena! It's kill or be killed! If you won't do it, then I'll kill you and find someone who will!

Toma needed time to think, but Hanif attacked again, forcing him to focus on dodging. Toma, Knowing he had a significant speed advantage over Hanif launched himself toward the arena wall on all fours. As he approached the wall, he turned sideways and kicked his feet against the wall, launching himself toward the other side of the arena. Hanif tried pathetically to chase Toma around the arena, but he was far too slow to keep up. Momentarily out of danger, Toma had time to consider what he would do next.

There was no good solution.

If I kill Hanif, he gets what he selfishly wants and I live.
If I don't, I die and Hanif does not get what he wants.

Toma made his decision and watched Hanif carefully for the right moment, kicking himself from the wall at strategic points in order to position himself as close as possible. Finally, Toma found himself within striking distance. Kicking away from the wall for the final time, Toma launched himself like a missile toward Hanif's face. Just before Toma tucked his leg, preparing to kick, he could swear he briefly saw a smile on Hanif's face.

With the force of his momentum, Toma released his foot and it connected square on Hanif's jaw. There was a loud crack as Hanif's head swiveled on his neck far more then it could ever do naturally. Toma tucked himself into a ball and rolled when he hit the ground. When he finally came to a stop, he could see Hanif laying on the floor of the arena, dead.

Panting heavily, Toma slowly got to his feet and pulled his left ear down in front of his face, rubbing it. It was hot, as was the other, and he could now feel the heat dissipating rapidly. Slowly, he made his way over to Hanif. Standing over his body, the rage for the position that Hanif put him in began to dissipate and, in its place, was sympathy. Tears began to roll down his cheeks and he didn't even hear the thunderous roar of approval from the crowd around him.

Toma: I am so sorry. I hope you find peace, wherever you are.

Toma didn't react as Ringmaster grabbed his wrist and held it high into the air. The crowd responded even more enthusiastically than before.

Ringmaster: We have a winner!


Commissioned art in this episode from:
Miyumon
Thatwildmary

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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