The third guy yelped, realizing that he was the last, as Carter came right at him and dealt a blow with his crossbow.
“You hit people with the crossbow?” said Zack.
“I'm worried I might hurt him badly,” said Carter.
“Huh?” Zack asked.
“Damn, he's bleeding!” Weston appeared out of the shadows where he'd knocked out the missing guy, holding one of this two knives. There was a little blood on the blade.
“Where did you cut him at?” asked Astrid.
“Don't worry, it wasn't fatal,” said Weston. “I had to study human anatomy for ninja skills, to strike nerve-points. And as for where I cut him, I accidently got him in the wrist when I wanted to knock away the guns. It gave him a thin cut.”
He frowned at Zack. “Isn't that just for the Core Gladiators? My knives can't cut normal Gladiators!”
Zack frowned. “That's true. So why and how did our weapons cut them?”
“If there are people who can Gladiate with the risk of injuring themselves, it would be Rank Gladiators,” said Astrid. “Not us.”
After a moment of silence, Zack turned back to the stairs. “Okay, let's hurry up.”
* * *
Sky slumped over against the table.
“Mikey's called to say he's shut out,” said Madison, lowing a phone from her ear.
“Okay,” said Sky slowly. “Say . . . what if I quit the Synchron Organization and – no, forget it.”
“What?” Madison asked.
“Just this strange feeling that's starting to stir up in me. I don't know . . . like – I feel like going back to Gladiating . . .”
Madison stared at him. “Sky? You said that you've been feeling this way since this morning?”
“Since I walked into the Synchron Organization, yes. I . . . no, no more Gladiating for now.” Sky threw himself back against his chair.
“Um – have you ever felt this way before?” Madison asked tentatively.
“What do you mean?” Sky felt uneasy. Madison was like a doctor. One who knew all the right questions to diagnose a problem. This was one of the reasons she was the chief programmer of the first team in Gladiators, anyway. Another reason was that he trusted her to do her work well.
“What do you fell like? Right now?”
“Gladiating. I'm . . . surging with power. Although for no reason. It guess its related to Gladiators, too. There's strange force in this building as well.” He frowned. “Okay, that sounded weird.”
“You talk like you're the Whisperer,” said Madison with a frown. “You can't pick up on another Gladiator's energy unless you're one of the three Core Gladiators, and it's only the Whisperer who can feel people.”
Sky huffed. “Yeah, that's true.” He glanced at the door. When the building had been taken over by Blackray, the hacker, the door of his office had been brought down.
Now, the two of them were trapped in the office.
Madison, noting his glance, said, “You can blow the doors open, too, right? You're powerful enough to do that with your Gladiator powers.”
“I have a really bad feeling about that,” said Sky. “I mean, I think if I blasted through that door, I'll definitely continue to destroy the rest of this building.” He frowned. “Okay, I actually feel doing that right now.”
“How long ago since you felt it?” she asked. “You said you felt it before.”
That made him think. “Um . . . three . . . four . . . five – years?” He gripped his chair. “Five – years ago. Back then . . . this is-”
At that moment, the two of them realized it.
“That's it,” said Madison with a gasp. “Of course it is!”
“So . . . that's why the Core isn't destroyed yet,” said Sky. He smiled weakly. “We have all three.”