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.As far as I know thattradition hasn't been invoked in more than a century-but it does exist."Gitana was coming nearer, still ranting."If the gadji sow wants my man, she can have him only over myown bleeding corpse.Or I will have him over hers."Yvette looked quickly around the table, but was met with looks of stony impassivity.She was notpopular here, and no one was about to so much as lift a finger in her behalf.Regardless of whether thetradition was obsolete or not, they sensed that Yvette was somehow a threat to their old establishedways, and they would feel no great loss at her death.She would have preferred to avoid this fight.She had no real complaint against this Gitana, whoever shewas, and Yvette risked her life often enough in the service of her Emperor to feel no need to test herselfin private grudge matches.But there were other factors involved here-and her beloved Pias was chiefamong them.Although she was not certain of all the social ramifications, she knew that backing downhere would shame not only herself but Pias in the eyes of his family and friends.This homecoming hadalready been enough of a disaster for him; she didn't want to add to it. Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abclit.htmlGrabbing the hilt of the knife from the tabletop, she pulled the blade free and stood up from her place."Idon't like fighting," she said evenly."But I will fight to protect me and mine."In front of her, Gitana gave a smug grin.Behind her, Yvette could detect Pias's anguish.He obviouslydidn't want her to fight any more than she did, but, like her, he recognized the necessity for this match."Be careful, Eve," he whispered."She's good."Yvette had already surmised that simply from the manner in which Gitana moved as she approached.Her blade was held point upward for a quick slash or jab, her stance was a slight crouch that would lether spring quickly forward or to either side, depending on circumstance.Her gaze was fixed squarely onYvette; she would let nothing distract her from her goal of victory.Yvette was not surprised to see thesesigns of expertise; it only stood to reason that Gitana would challenge her opponent to a form of combatin which she herself was an expert.It's known as hedging your bets, Yvette thought cynically.Yvette moved away from the table toward an open area of the room where she'd have more space tomaneuver.Gitana turned slightly and continued coming after her.Around them, the room had growndeathly quiet in anticipation of the blood sport that was to ensue.The two women circled one another warily, spiraling inward toward the center of a small imaginarycircle.Each was looking for-some weakness in the other's defense, and each was having a hard timefinding one.Yvette was patient, however; she hadn't wanted to have this fight, anyway.She could affordto wait all night if necessary for the right moment to move, and she refused to strike first.Gitana was not blessed with her opponent's patience.After circling for almost two minutes, she grewtired of the waiting game and decided to force Yvette's hand.With a sudden lunge, her knife lashed outat the DesPlainian's eyes.Yvette was ready for the move.She had spotted the tiny muscle tensions that preceded the strike, andcould predict almost the instant it would come.As Gitana's blade came sweeping toward her face, shetook a slight step back with her right foot and lifted her left arm to block her opponent's motion.Gitana's move, though, was a feint; even as Yvette was reacting to the supposed threat to her eyes,Gitana's hand was drawing back and her-left leg was lifting for a vicious kick to Yvette's midsection.Noteven Yvette's reflexes were fast enough to completely ward off the effects of the blow; the best she could Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abclit.htmldo was start to fall backward as she saw the foot approach.The kick did not land as hard as Gitana hadintended, but it did have enough force behind it to knock Yvette to the floor.On a high-gravity world like Newforest, with a surface gravity two and a half times that of Earth, any fallwas a serious accident.Even ten or twenty generations had not completely acclimated the inhabitants tosuch brutal conditions.While their bones were thicker and, to some extent, tougher, they were stillbasically the same calcium compounds that had evolved over millions of years on Earth.They could-anddid- still break when allowed to fall victim to the crushing force of high-grav.The only thing that kept the fight from being over then and there was Yvette's circus training.Gitana'skick had pushed her off balance.There was no way to prevent the impending fall from happening, butshe did know ways to keep it from being disastrous.Using her skills as an accomplished acrobat, shetucked her body up in a compact ball that allowed her to land on the softer portions of her anatomy,cushioning the impact on her more fragile bones.At the same time, she utilized the momentum impartedto her by Gitana's kick to let her roll backward.In one fluid motion she had fallen, rolled and sprung toher feet again, prepared to do battle once more.I've been underestimating her and overestimating myself, Yvette criticized severely.I've been so used toworking on low-grav worlds these past few years, and so used to fighting people whose reflexes aren't asfast as my own, that coming back to a high-grav planet requires an adjustment.Gitana has lived inhigh-grav all her life, and she's more used to it right now than I am.Her reflexes are every bit as fast asmine.I'll have to watch that.The only advantage she could count on now, she knew, was her extra training as a circus performer andher greater experience in life-or-death situations.There was a great deal to be said in favor of suchexperience, but it could not completely compensate for overconfidence.Gitana was upset that her trick had not worked.The feint and kick was the prime tactic in her repertoire,and she had hoped to use it to end this fight quickly.Now they were in for a more protracted battle.Gitana was still confident of her ability to win, but she had gained at least a slight measure of respect forher antagonist.She made another feint, but this time Yvette did not respond to it.Gitana pulled back, and the twowomen began circling one another again.Yvette felt a little more secure now; having analyzed heropponent, she knew that the other's major weakness was her impatience.She wanted to make somethinghappen fast, and that, Yvette knew, could be Gitana's undoing.Things would happen quickly enough, tobe sure; but it would be a calculated quickness on Yvette's part, not a quickness born of impetuosity. Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abclit.htmlGitana made a slight body feint with her left shoulder, then lunged savagely into an attack.It was no feintthis time; her knife was slashing for real as her hand ripped downward in a sweeping motion.But Yvette was no longer there.She had moved into the feint instead of away from it, so that her bodywas closer than Gitana had anticipated it would be [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]