“You didn’t have to do that!” The kid shouted, and tried to brush the tears from his eyes, but mostly succeeded in smearing whatever she’d sprayed on him.
By that time, Larry was within reach—just a couple steps down.
The kid muttered something, and as he pulled one hand away from his face, Larry saw that the kid had made a fist.
It wasn’t much of a punch. He swung wildly, missing by more than a foot.
Cheryl stepped backwards, moving unsteadily up the stairs, away from the punch. The high heels and mini-skirt didn’t do her any favors.
Larry grabbed the kid’s forearm from behind as the kid recovered from his swing, and then grabbed the kid’s bicep with his left hand.
The teen struggled, trying to pull his arm away, and when that didn’t work, let his legs go slack.
Larry didn’t fall over. He held the kid up.
“Keep pulling that kind of shit, and I’m going to let you take me down. You’ll hit the concrete, and I’m going to land on top of you. Believe me, it’s gonna hurt.”
The kid turned his head, and looked up at Larry, eyes still watering. “Fuck you.”
From behind Larry came a thud, followed by solid footfalls as something ran up the stairs. Larry turned to find a guy in powered armor standing a couple steps down from him. The armor looked like polished silver—he could almost see his reflection—except for the black diamond with the words “Metafight Games Security” mid-way up the armor’s chest piece.
Alexis had moved out of the aisle, and into one of the rows to let the security guy by.
“Pass him over to me,” the security guy said, holding his arms out.
Larry passed him over while the kid said, “I’m not going to forget this. Don’t think I’m going to forget this! Do you know who I am? I’m a fucking super-villain. You remember that. Remember that when I come after your ass—“
The security guy covered the kid’s mouth with his hand, quickly followed by a squirt of quickly hardening goo from a small tube that extended out of his forearm.
Nodding to Larry, the guy said, “I needed him to shut up. Thanks, by the way.”
The security guy began to turn away when Cheryl’s voice cut into the conversation. “Where were you, Tom? You’re supposed to be watching for this.”
Tom sighed. “I’m also supposed to be watching people training in the arena.”
“The people in the arena have powers or armor. I’ve got nothing.” She stood a few rows up, staring down at Tom with obvious frustration. “This isn’t the first time.”
“You did pretty well, anyway,” Tom said.
Cheryl’s jaw dropped, and he kept on talking. “Look, I’m not saying it’s okay. I’ll stay up here while you’re here. It won’t happen again.”
“It better not,” she said.
“It won’t,” he said, and walked off with the kid.
Cheryl watched him go, and then turned to Larry. “Thanks for the everything. It’s nice to know I’m not completely alone.”
Larry shrugged, “Glad to help, but it looks like you barely needed me. Your mace took most of the fight out of him.”
She smiled briefly, “You’d better hope not. You’re fighting him tomorrow.”
Larry turned to see Tom carrying the kid away. “That was Rook?”
“The one and only. Kick his ass for me, okay?”
“You bet.” He looked toward where Tom was carrying Rook through one of the arena’s exits, noticing something else. Tom’s armor’s joints were designed the same way as Armory’s.
That meant Armory wasn’t just designing suits for people who competed, he was working for Metafight Games somehow.
He turned back around, “Hey, who makes armor for your security guys?”
Cheryl raised an eyebrow. “I’m not involved in that end of the operation. Do you need something?”
“No, I just saw something interesting about the design, and if the designer’s around, I’d like to talk to him.”
Cheryl glanced toward Tom, and said, “I can ask around.”
“That’d be great,” he said.
“I’ll talk to you later then,” she said. “Right now I need to complain to my boss.”
She walked up the steps toward an exit.
Alexis cleared his throat, and said, “Let’s talk over there.” He pointed to his left. When Larry said, “Sure,” he guided them two sections over.
When they sat down, they were alone in the section.
Alexis said, “Are you here for Armory?”
Larry nodded. “It looks like he’s started selling armor to pretty much anybody. We’re going to have some problems if he starts mass producing it for supervillains. How’d you know about him?” Seeing the expression on Alexis’ face, he said, “Oh, damn.”
Alexis gave a pained look. “I’m not simply here to compete. The government of Cuba is interested in his suits.”
Larry shook his head. “This is going to get complicated.”