Finally, Arjuna and Lossepharr showed off their targeting skills beginning with small handheld volt cannons, before moving to full-size sling volt cannons. Lossepharr, still angry at losing to Dennethom, struggled to keep pace with Arjuna. Arjuna could sense his frustration coming out in waves. Being stabbed earlier was an ugly reminder that she needed to keep her focus, and so she chose to ignore him. Instead she concentrated on her breathing, allowing her hands to automatically do the work necessary to target the little floating Ballistic Orbital Bot.
She thought she could hear Lossepharr chuckling at her, and after a delay in her brain, she registered the insinuation he had made that she couldn’t handle a weapon as large as an SVC. She merely smiled and continued to work refusing to engage his petty rivalry. She could see that her shots were remaining dead centre while his were becoming increasingly erratic the further away the target was placed. Eventually, while she set up for the next floating B.O.B., she became aware of the applause from the audience. Looking up she noticed that her cousin had tossed aside his weapon claiming that the sight was faulty.
Seated in the stands, Katha listened closely to Quani as he related all the details of the tourney. He was disappointed to hear of Lossepharr’s issues with his weapon and made a mental note to have a word with Mehar Renecke. Lossepharr is the son of a Boentu leader, he shouldn’t go into a tourney with a faulty weapon.
Quani for his part was growing weary of the tournament. Every time the crowd cheered, his leader would lean in close and ask questions. “Is it Lossepharr? Did he hit the target? How accurate was the shot?” Quani could see the eager expression in his leader’s face. Katha so wanted to hear that his sons were making him proud. Which they were, up until Lossepharr had stalked off the field. But even Quani noticed just how much the crowd seemed to adore the children of Chran.
When Katha would ask him if the cheers were for his own sons, Quani was tempted to lie and say “yes.” But he knew it would make matters worse. He just wished the tournament would hurry up and finish. In Quani’s opinion it encouraged far too much rivalry between the two families.
As Arjuna finished her final volley, which were mere dots in the distance, the crowd went ballistic. Getting to her feet and facing the audience she felt a surge of pride that she had never known before. More than mere pride, it was a moment of clarity. The pure knowledge that she was doing precisely what she had been born to do.
Silently, she thanked her father, Chran, and her grandmother, Tari, for guiding her even now, in the after life. Politely she took a bow, dimly aware that her name was now being chanted in the stands. Any moment now Mehar Renecke would blow the whistle to end the tournament. Arjuna cringed at the idea of meeting all those visiting dignitaries. Battlefields she could do, but small talk was not her forte.
The whistle did not come. Instead, a loud, clear contralto voice called out “Wait!” Arjuna did not recognize the voice and so she peered out into the crowds, trying to determine who had been so rude as to interrupt her big moment. Instantly she spotted the speaker, a tall figure of a Boentu woman, not much older than Arjuna herself. She was being roughly held back by several Boentu Guardians.
“I believe tradition dictates that participants of the tourney can be challenged,” the woman was saying, still struggling against the guards. “I challenge Arjuna, daughter of Chran and Yasana!”