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The Survival of Corliss Sinclair
Orielle held the Lyte Gun lazily in her hand, her hand-mirrors not slick with sweat as her opponent’s were. An easy smile played across her lips as she effortlessly blocked another shot made by her adversary, reflected away by a casual flick of the small mirror strapped tightly to the palm of her hand. She didn't bother shooting any rays of her own, because she could just as easily use the other players’ shots against them. Nobody was as good a shot as her. If she were to shoot, the game would be over too quickly. There wouldn't be any fun. Orielle took great pleasure in her rival's sticky, sweaty efforts.
The crowd shrieked with approval as the rebounded light struck the opponent squarely between the eyes. Orielle laughed outright, lowering her Lyte gun and giving a vain flip of her black Cleopatra-cut hair.
"Has she no mercy?" The echoing voice of Hanz the Gamecaster boomed happily throughout the Lyte Games Coliseum. He was also happy about her win. She was the only thing that the country could count on to be invincible. The crowd rolled with cheers and rippled with the waving of hands and the pumping of fists. Orielle gave the cameras her most winning, confident smile, and her image was projected onto four large hover screens, showing everyone the face of their idol.
Orielle lifted her Lyte Gun to her lips and kissed the barrel, leaving behind a sixth lipstick mark. One kiss for every win. She needed ten kisses to claim the Cup. The people went wild at the sixth sight of Orielle's trademark kiss. Four more kisses to go, and the crowd would become louder with each one.
Orielle watched with amusement as the paramedics scooped up her rival and carried him away, where they would treat him for burns. The Lyte wasn't meant to kill, of course. Only to incapacitate and to entertain. And entertain it did. Security could barely manage the pulsing swarm of spectators who were all buzzing with excitement.
They roared even louder when Gyros the Great stepped menacingly in the gaming arena. He sauntered forward, stopping when the two players were separated by about one hundred paces. Even from a distance, Orielle could see how tense his jaw was. How coiled his body was. Like a cobra about to strike. But cobras didn't have foreheads, and Gyros' forehead was cinched in dread. He didn't want to lose, but he knew it was inevitable.
Hanz's voice echoed over the vast loudspeaker, counting down the seconds. The crowd counted with him, and Orielle raised her gun steadily. Gyros did the same. She bent her knees slightly, ready to dive in either direction. The countdown ended, and the horn blared.
Orielle anticipated Gyros's every shot. The moment the horn sounded, he sent three beams flying at her, giving her a split second to make a decision. She ducked, dodging left and letting two shots sail by her. She deflected the third with her hand mirror, and sent her own shot flying his way. He dove, but his burliness proved too cumbersome to move. His body had barely impacted the floor before Orielle’s shot connected with his thigh. He grunted, but rolled to his feet and shot again. He missed. He shot off five in a row, in all different directions. Normally, he won his battles with this move, as his opponents had nowhere to dodge without being hit, but Orielle was a different story.
After another fifteen minutes of Lyte battle, Gyros no longer had the energy to dodge properly, and sank to his knees in defeat. Orielle’s graced the delightedly screaming audience with one last blow, a shot that burned Gyros squarely in the center of his broad chest. The paramedics scooped him, and the crowd got to witness Orielle’s seventh kiss. Her gun had room for only three more.
“Look how easily she takes down the three time Champ!” Hanz bellowed enthusiastically. The crowd ruthlessly jeered the name of their past Champion in favor of their new one. Everyone knew she would win the competition. Orielle was their treasured, talented rookie that had a fierce competitive streak and an eye for a target. She was finally someone that everyone could love.
Orielle flew effortlessly through next two battles. Not once was she struck by the Lyte, but hers never missed their marks. By her ninth defeat, her hand-mirrors were sizzling from the heat of her repetitive deflections. She was having so much fun she even allowed herself to break a sweat. The noise of the crowd reverberated through her bones.
After she conquered her last and final opponent, she threw her fists into the air and let out a whoop of triumph. Her fans screamed with delight, and the golden, bejeweled Cup was thrust into her arms. She held it proudly, high above her head.
As I indulged myself with my most treasured memory, I spread out my sleeping bag and set up camp. I wiped my dirty forehead with the back of my hand and tucked a stray piece of gray-blonde hair behind my ear. Memories of the Lyte battles in the Coliseum were the only thing that kept me going, traveling day after day. After personally seeing the Coliseum, collapsed and destroyed, I knew the battles would never be resurrected. I didn’t even know if Orielle had survived the attack. But somewhere, a country was thriving on America’s destruction.
It happened on the day of America’s 500th birthday, and the entire population was partying.
I guess being the unpopular, anti-partying school nerd paid off, because I was the only one of my family who stayed home to study that day. I never guessed summer college algebra would save my life, but it did.
So, now I was left with only a bag of necessities, a sleeping bag, and my very best memories. And my name. I would always have my name. I am and always will be Corliss Sinclair.
And this will be the story of America’s demise. But it will also be the story of my new beginning.
This will be the story of the survival of Corliss Sinclair.