It might’ve been a surprise to see the rocks still standing after all the combat that had taken place around them, but Hector didn’t spare it any thought as he climbed to his feet again. His sunken-in chest was regenerating, crushed lungs in the midst of reforming.
Harper flashed closer but stopped not long after exiting the cage. His head turned to the side, glazed eyes looking away from Hector.
That was bad.
A spiked ball materialized in Hector’s hand, and he tried to shout and get Harper's attention, but his lungs couldn’t hold breath just yet. So he just threw it with full force.
Harper vanished just before the ball reached him. In a blink, he reappeared next to Hector, already with a hand around the young man’s throat, fingers digging through the iron coating and into Hector’s flesh.
The spikes came out, skewering Harper’s hand and forearm. Hector was briefly free, until Harper’s other arm connected with the side of his helm. Again, the armor shattered, and Hector went flying, toppling across hard stone with a broken neck.
He struggled to stand back up this time, his body not wanting to listen to him. Vital nerves below his brain stem needed time to repair. He could barely move, but he could at least see Harper. He knew that a single beam of light through his skull could’ve already ended this fight. And yet it hadn’t.
Hector felt his lungs working again. “You’re still holding back,” he said.
The words didn’t seem to register. Harper just looked away again.
“No! Focus on me!”
If Harper leapt away now, there would be no catching him. There would be no saving anyone. More innocent lives destroyed. More failure.
Hector understood these things. And he refused to let them happen.
Defeating Harper, that was impossible. But delaying him? Surely, that could be done. If this stupid body would just move. Always breaking when he needed it most. If he couldn’t move, he couldn’t materialize anything. Except, perhaps, coating himself. In spikes.
That would have to do.