Chapter 175

Violet couldn’t really fly. It would be more accurate to say she floated, decreasing her density until she was able to stay aloft on air currents. Upping her speed or changing direction was just a matter of increasing a small part of her body’s density and casting it in the direction she wanted to travel. For example, she could punch to the left while making the nail on her index finger heavier for half of a second, resulting in her whole body being moved forcibly. This technique, while effective, was also very strange to see in action: Violet’s navigation mimicked the jerking of an epileptic squid. That said, it worked.

Alice dashed to the side as Violet whooshed by, hand clutched into a fist that would have no doubt become much heavier right before impacting Alice. Violet kicked backwards and reversed trajectory, reorienting herself and coming around for another attack. So far Alice had managed to dodge effectively - she had more practice thinking in three-dimensions than her opponent - however, she also knew she was in very real trouble if Violet should manage to land a blow. She could increase the gravity around Violet, but that was difficult given the girl’s constant movement. Not to mention that Alice didn’t know how much of that force Violet could ignore by becoming less dense. The one thing she did know was that she was only going to have the element of surprise once, and then it was gone.

“You’re quick,” Violet said, pausing her formerly ceaseless barrage to catch her breath. “To be honest, I’m a little impressed. I thought you’d have tried to escape by now.”

“Now why would I do that?”

“Because you don’t have any way to win. Your power only lets you fly, and now that I’ve come into your world, it’s just a matter of time before I catch you.”

“I suppose it’s just not in me to walk away from a fight.”

“It most certainly is, and you’re neither stupid nor overly prideful. So that means you think you’ve got a shot at winning this.” Violet’s smile was wide, showing too many teeth for it to be taken as a friendly gesture. “You’ve been sandbagging.”

“I’d prefer to say that I just haven’t had the chance to showcase my talents,” Alice replied.

“Then consider this your opening night. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good tussle, so bring it on. Let’s see what you can really do.”

This time it was Alice who surged forward, utilizing her superior speed and maneuverability to come down on Violet, dropping a fist directly toward her throat. She almost pulled it off; however, what Alice had in flying practice, Violet had in battle experience. She rolled to the side at the last moment, sending Alice’s punch into her shoulder. The blonde girl was momentarily thrown off kilter, and Violet used that opportunity to wrap both arms around her torso. As soon her grip was firm, Violet turned up her own density, sending them downward and dragging Alice out of the sky.

“Good effort,” Violet said as their pace began to increase. “A little quicker and you might have gotten me.”

“It isn’t over yet,” Alice snapped. “I’m betting this landing hurts you, too.” She focused on decreasing their gravity, slowing the descent as much as possible. She still had a plan, but it required Violet to be much denser.

“You’d be surprised how tough I am when I get heavy.” Violet was impressed the blonde could haul this much weight. She turned up her own ability, making herself even heavier. They began to fall faster, and Violet cranked it up even more. She would be sure to cushion Alice from the blow, but it should be enough to keep the girl grounded for some while.

Alice didn’t reply this time; her attention was on the approaching tree tops. She had to time this perfectly: otherwise Violet would just shift back again. Her mind grew empty as she focused on the gravity that enveloped them. Alice had already done more in practice than just excuse herself from its hold or turn up the knob on others: she’d also changed the very direction it pulled in. It hadn’t been easy, and she’d never tried something this delicate before. They passed the first tip of a tree and there was no more time for debate or doubt.

It was showtime.

Violet’s arms were ripped away from Alice’s body as an unseen force yanked them in opposite directions. At the same time, she felt her own rate of descent increase dramatically. This wasn’t just losing the counterforce of the flier: she was moving much too swiftly for that to be the case. As Alice bobbed overhead, a quickly shrinking point in Violet’s line of sight, it all came together.

“Gravity. You sandbagging bitch,” she muttered. The next sound was the tremendous crash of a college-aged girl whose weight was currently in the hundreds of tons smashing into the ground. It caved into a crater of impressive size, uprooting a few trees and sending who knows how many rocks flying. She’d have likely fallen much farther if not for the special material Lander’s walls, and more importantly floors, were made from.

A less dense item would have been damaged beyond repair. As it was, Violet felt like she’d gotten her bell rung pretty noticeably. It would take her a few minutes to shake it all off, but she wasn’t out of the fight yet. She looked up from her giant crater and saw Alice still floating above her. It was hard to see at such a distance, but Violet noticed the floating form seemed to be making motions with its arms. She had just enough time to wonder what on earth that girl was doing before she noticed the rumbling sound that was filling her ears.

Trees, rubble, and other sizable debris began careening over the lip of the crater, crashing down the slope to land at the lowest point, directly on top of Violet. Violet felt the burdens fall on top of her, not heavy enough to do any damage but certainly making her inevitable escape more difficult. She could lower her density enough to become insubstantial, but that meant a brief moment where she’d be normal and pinned under an ever-increasing mountain of crap. Her only other option was to weaken each hunk of debris piece by piece until she was able to get out.

Well, she had told Alice to bring it. Violet made a note to congratulate her friend when this was all said and done. Assuming she made it out before the start of summer vacation, of course.