by Hydrargentium

In the aftermath, I found myself leaning against the wall next to the tall one, the one with the long, dark hair. She was fiddling with her goggles, some kind of high-tech affair, probably with range finding and a bunch of other HUD stuff. I was staring half-blankly at the first-responders, watching them do the clean-up, but mostly going over things in my head: how the adjustment to my gloves had thrown off my timing, how I seemed to have completely forgotten how to fight in a crowd, and how maybe I should tone down the fancier moves I’d practiced until I had them better. And how wired up I’d been — if I was going to do this again, I was going to have to remember to relax.

“You were pretty good in there.”

Snap. I was back to the here and now. I tilted my head toward her so I could be heard over the sirens and heavy equipment without having to shout so much.

“You think so?”

If you could cross-reference my grin with the picture in the dictionary next to the word ‘sardonic’, you’d find it a pretty close match.

“Sure. I really liked what you did with the low energy pulses. I’m going to have to try some of that myself.”

I shook my head. “Mm. I’m not so pleased. A lot of things that did not go the way I wanted them to.”

I looked away, eyeing a big mech suit as it began clearing debris from the road. When I looked back at her, she was still paying attention to me.

“I haven’t been in active in public, out on the street like this, in about fifteen years.”

Her eyes actually widened, surprisingly vivid despite the specs.

“Wow. That’s great! That’s so neat that you could come out!”