An Old Piece for Review

This is the opening of a book I started around 10 years ago.  It would have been something similar to Hunger Games, though a bit more gruesome.  I don’t know if it’s worth picking it up again and would appreciate it if someone could give it a thumbs up or down.

 

ClaraClara’s heels scraped a long trail through permafrost and gravel as she slid feet-first down the bank. She didn’t care that it made her easy to track. They had her in sight anyway. Her short breaths misted and hung like captured ghosts, held in suspension by the still morning air.

The stream below had been disturbed at some time in the past and its mud-clouded, refrozen surface now resembled slabs of cracked pig iron; hard and brittle. But the ice had developed a pitted, ribbed texture that gave her enough traction to sprint across. Clara wouldn’t be able to sprint much more – she was exhausted. But she daren’t slow down.

She had a Dark Mass pursuing her–two Dark Masses in fact, though they functioned as a single unit. The Klein Twins were notoriously persistent and, true to their reputation, they were still there, still on her heels. Close on her heels.

‘Is someone receiving?’ she gasped. ‘Acknowledge, over.’

But her radio was dead. The cold must have done that. Ice crystals had got into it, or something inside had cracked when the cold made the parts contract. Didn’t matter why. She was cut off and that meant she was screwed. Clara sucked in another breath and winced at the rawness in her throat.

It wasn’t fair. She was just a Backstop for the Wing-Defence. What they’d earn from her would hardly be worth the effort, not to them. The Klein Twins were tough enough to take on the big boys from her team, earn some real points. Why would they come after her? The points they’d gain from capturing her might not be high, but they’d come out of her points bank, and she had barely enough already.

Maybe they were doing this just for fun? Please don’t let this be just for fun! Because she knew their fun would only really start once they’d caught her.

Clara glowered at the cam that had come down to hover next to her. She was on air now. Someone had noticed the chase. Great! That meant she’d lose even more points and her team would give her grief when she…if she got back to Home Base tonight.

At least she was nowhere near the cages. If they got her into the Dark Mass cage, they’d be able to keep her there–at least until the leader board was updated. Which could be anything up to a week. A week in which any member of the Dark Mass team could have access to her. But the cages were ten klicks from here. Even the Klein Twins wouldn’t bother with that.

The bank on the far side of the stream was steeper and the camera followed her as she struggled up it. She was flagging by the time she neared the top. Clara heard a crack and glanced around. A harsh, angry voice let a stream of obscenity out into the frigid air.

Hell. Now he’s pissed off, too!

The figure below also had a camera hovering around him, watching his progress. He hadn’t made it across the brook as cleanly as she had. He was heavier; his foot had gone through the ice. Not that his foot would feel the cold–he didn’t have one any more, on either leg. He didn’t have legs for that matter. Just pieces of metal.

Metal machinery that didn’t get tired, and would keep pursuing her till she dropped.

While she paused to take a quick look at him, the man raised his head and stared back at her. His left eye was gone, too. In its place was a red bulb, bulging with circuitry and sensors. It glared at her evilly and she saw his lips twitch, amused by her horrified expression.

The man she was looking at was Kristian Klein. The fact that he used his real name, not a pseudonym, told everyone he was a mean bastard. Clara had never seen either of the Klein Twins in the flesh before, but she’d heard of them. Everyone had. They were the pride of the Dark Mass team; legendary bad boys of the Circuit. They were both slower than she was, but they didn’t need to be fast to do their job, just dogged. Dogged and aggressive enough to hunt down and capture or eliminate key members of the opposing team. So why were they after her? She could hardly be called a key member of the Cobalt Streaks, could she?

She flinched as Kristian sent a beam from his red eye and passed a scan over her. The broad ray bathed her in scintillating light for a second, but it didn’t hurt. She hadn’t expected it to, so why had she flinched? Because it had felt too much like he was touching her? The beam could see through her armour, through her clothes, even through her flesh.

As the man started forward again, she turned in terror and finished climbing the bank. She heard his mocking voice as she disappeared over the edge.

‘Wait up, little Cobalt Streak… I’ve got something for you.’

Clara shuddered.

She had another klick to go before she reached the nearest haven. Another kilometre before she was safe. She might outrun them, but it was now unlikely. She’d been trying to evade them for over an hour, and her energy was gone. And they were already close.

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