It was only instinct that kept Sarah from getting knocked flat when she stepped into the bounds of the hand to hand combat. The fighting here was one part bar brawl, one part wrestling and one part martial arts. At least Sarah had a good foundation in martial arts. It was that training, plus her two weeks of practice, that allowed her to move through the combat with ease.
She knocked Allen to the ground twice. The first time she hadn’t even realized it was him. The second time, however, he’d nearly gotten her first. Sarah herself had seen the ground three times already, but with a quick roll, something none of the others seemed to be able to do, she’d be back on her feet. After her fourth knock down, she was tapped out by a Sergeant..
“Get a drink and ration Hopeful,” he told her, “then go back to the sword fighting area.”
“Failed yet?” Bennett asked as he passed her on the way to the ration and water table.
“Oh no,” Sarah replied cheerily, “I’m just getting warmed up.”
Feeling her adrenaline starting to disappear, Sarah quickly marched herself back to the combat zone. Smile upon her face and sword drawn she jumped in to help Marcus who was being set upon, unfairly in her opinion, by two scouts.
“This is my fight Smith,” he growled at her.
Sarah blocked a blow that would have disarmed him. “Suit yourself, but we are on the same team.”
Marcus turned to cut her out of the fight, which was fine, because she suddenly found herself facing two Scouts. She resisted the urge to shout, ‘Why can’t we just all get along!’ as she dealt with two swords coming at her at once. There was no time for thought, as a flurry of blades came at her. It was only action and reaction, parry and thrust, block and dodge. Her mind zoned and her body became a blur of activity. She was only vaguely aware of what was going on, her mind wrapped in the effort of survival.
“SMITH!” a familiar voice broke through her zone and Sarah froze.
A hand tapped her shoulder and she turned to see Jay. The two scouts she had been fighting, which were different than the ones that had first set upon her, looked impressed.
“Get yourself a ration and a drink Smith, then go to archery,” Jason told her as they walked out of the field.
Sarah felt a wave of exhaustion flow over her as she grabbed a canteen. “I didn’t hurt anyone did I?” she asked quietly as soon as she had swallowed the water.
“No,” Jason smiled, “but you did find your warrior way again.” He clapped her on the back before heading off around the barracks. “Good luck in archery,” he called over his shoulder.
Sarah groaned. Even after two weeks of practice, she had not improved much. Given how hard she’d just worked her arms, she suspected she’d do worse than when they had tested her. Watching the archers while nibbling on her ration bar her spirits sunk even further. Seven Hopefuls to fourteen Scouts again and the Scouts looked like they were being pains in the buttocks. Some of them were sparing behind the archers while others spared right in front. And Mathew, she noticed, was jostling them.
Wait I thought I opted out of archery, why am I still doing it? Sarah thought out pleadingly to Jason.
His response came back haltingly as if he was concentrating on something else. Everyone is tested on it; however your passing will not depend upon it.
Right, she let Jason do whatever it was he was doing. Fighting it felt like though she couldn’t see him in either the combat or hand to hand zones. A yell of pain directed her back to the archery area. It looked like Hopeful Jeremy had stung himself with the bow string. Taking a deep breath and one last swig of water Sarah pulled herself up straight.
“Here goes nothing,” she muttered as she went to the archery line.