Winds of Change

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Fiona crept back toward the shadows of the cabin, shaking. If she ran toward the creek.... As she observed Gabriella neatly countering the big Kin’keska’s strikes as effortlessly as if they were dancing, Fiona knew she couldn’t run and – well. (say it just say it.) She couldn’t just desert her friends. She witnessed Derrick bow like a branch in the wind under the strength of another Kin’keska’s attack. Her heart in her throat, she watched, sure that this would be a slaughter. She couldn’t handle more death, more blood....

But Derrick suddenly stood up straighter and struck out at his opponent, forcing him backward. Derrick was fighting back, and Andrew – Andrew was in the midst of combat with yet another brightly clad, shrieking Kin’keska, rolling about in the grass, waging his own war against her. That’s it, Fiona thought decisively. She sprinted around the cabin to the weapons shed and threw the door open. Where was her staff? There, behind the door! Her heart pounding, Fiona hefted it and ran back to where her friends were fighting for their lives. Wasn’t this why she had trained in tae kwon do all those years? Yet now armed, she wasn’t sure what to do, where to go.... Her attention was summoned back to Andrew, who was struggling to prevent – a knife! – from slashing down at his face.

Fiona didn’t hesitate. She joined the melee and first thought to use her staff to hit the woman in the face. But as the woman’s arm rose into the air over Andrew’s back, Fiona kicked it out of her hand without thinking. Andrew glanced up at her and flashed a grateful expression before he punched the Kin’keska woman in the jaw twice, knocking her senseless. Funny, an idle part of her thought, seeing Andrew whaling on someone like that. He was hardly the type. She then watched with horror as he plunged the woman’s knife into her chest with both hands.

“Behind you!” Andrew had vaulted to his feet.

And then Fiona was tackled from behind. Her sudden coalition with the earth knocked breath from her lungs as she scraped her chin on her pole. She wrestled around, gasping for breath, until she could see her assailant.

Another Kin’keska woman was screeching at her, pummeling Fiona. Grunting, she propelled the woman off of her with her legs and staggered upright to her feet, eyeing her attacker warily for weaknesses. The woman’s arm lifted slowly, her hand a tight fist clenching something that gleamed in the sun. Staring at the rapidly approaching figure in scarlet skirts and brightly colored sashes, Fiona thought, She’s got a knife – a knife! And then Fiona saw the techniques she needed to execute to defend herself in her mind clearly as if they were being performed for her.

Fiona caught the Kin’keska woman hard beneath the chin with her right heel. The woman’s head rocked back and Fiona seized the opportunity to take her attacker’s legs out from beneath her. She immediately grabbed her Kin’keska opponent’s arm and twisted it roughly behind her back. Her knee in the small of the Kin’keska’s back, Fiona knelt precariously on top of her attacker, gripping the woman’s arm on the pressure points until the knife shook in the woman’s hand. The woman shrieked unintelligibly as she kicked and struggled.

In the confusion of trying to understand what the woman was yelling and trying to prevent her from getting loose, Fiona wasn’t quick enough to snatch the knife hilt when her opponent dropped it. The woman’s other hand fumbled for and found the knife before Fiona could shift her stance to grasp for it. The woman continued to struggle and yell, her free arm flailing. As Fiona fought to maintain control, she saw the knife slash across her lower arm, just above her inner wrist. She felt nothing, although she caught a glimpse of bright blood spilling onto her skin.

That instant of surprise was all the opportunity the thrashing Kin’keska woman needed to free herself. (no!) Fiona scrambled back in the dirt as the woman righted herself. Just as the Kin’keska slipped back into her attack stance, knife in her weaker hand this time, Fiona noted with a grim sense of pride, a flash of blue whirled past and then the butt of Fiona’s staff hit her attacker in the small of the back. Fiona, still scrambling to stand up, watched the woman’s brown eyes widen in surprise, then pain as she sank to her knees and crumpled in an unmoving slump at Fiona’s feet.

Fiona let out a long breath and felt her knees go weak with relief. She turned to thank Andrew, but the world seemed to tilt suddenly, rushing blurrily toward her in a purple hue. She felt hands clutching her. Another Kin’keska?

“Fiona? Oh my God! Fiona!”

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