Will Lisbeth Salander continue her winning streak in the battle against Gabriel Allon for the Mysteries & Thrillers bracket championship, or will she fail to advance to the Final Four in this year’s Lit Madness?
Lisbeth, having hacked the Game’s computer system, is enjoying the new sense of security and control she feels over her surroundings. Things are going her way. She’s never been one to build many close interpersonal relationships, and frankly, now that the crowd has thinned out a little in the arena, she feels much more at ease. There’s no pressure to bond with people you’ll probably end up trying to kill.
She begins to think about her next move, and remembers that she’s pretty sure she’s read Gabriel’s name somewhere before. The second column from the left on A1 of the December 9, 1991 edition ofThe New York Times, to be exact.
Ever since Allon realized his latest match-up was against the scrawny hacker with piercings and a dragon tattoo peeking out of her tattered Goth clothes, he knew that she dealt in information. He’s been scanning the arena warily for her, but he doesn’t think to look up until he hears her voice from all around him.
WINNER: Suddenly, the skies flicker, the gray clouds replaced by larger-than-life photos: The burnt-out husk of his car, the family portrait the newspaper ran showing him and his wife and son before the bomb destroyed everything. Allon struggles to maintain his calm, but there’s no way to block out the images now. As he’s scrambling for cover, Lisbeth appears behind him with a syringe and jams it into his neck. She takes some pity on him and makes the death quick, rather than drawing it out with a homemade tattoo. This man has suffered enough.
It’s down to the wire in the Sci-Fi & Fantasy bracket in this year’s Lit Madness. Aslan and Shadow Moon will battle it out to determine who will make it to the Final Four!
Narnia has been peaceful for many years, yet Aslan is always prepared for the return of evil. Fighting battles, defeating dictators, winning wars, and dealing with dissenting believers is all a part of his job; the Game hardly phases him. His land has been through eternal winters and suffered false prophets; the arena barely compares. He does miss the quiet, however, and the summer breezes, and the children’s laughter. But the Game is winding down, and he’ll be home soon enough.
Shadow Moon is starting to feel pretty alone in the arena, which is reminding him of how lost he felt upon returning home from prison after the death of his wife and best friend. In the past, finding a purpose has helped him cope with these feelings: last time he joined forces with Mr. Wednesday and focused his efforts on protecting him. All there is to focus on in the arena is death and more death, and Shadow is starting to find his surroundings incredibly depressing, but he’s not ready to give up yet.
WINNER: Shadow’s out of magic coins, and Laura is no longer around to help him. When he finds Aslan down by the water, he remains stoic and unafraid. “You know I usually like cats,” he comments with a smirk. Aslan chuckles, “You don’t like me, then?” With a shrug, Shadow cracks his knuckles and replies, “I rarely like anyone trying to kill me.”
Golden eyes glint in the setting sun before Aslan lunges. Shadow quickly ducks and rolls out of the way, springing quickly to his feet. Glad for the challenge, Aslan rolls his shoulders and goes to attack again—swiping and connecting his claws with Shadow’s thigh. The man winces but manages to get a punch in, amusing the lion. The fight is nearly playful, each enjoying having a challenging brute force to spar against, but as the night goes on, they grow impatient. Shadow’s rapidly losing blood from where Aslan’s cut him. He staggers and stands once more, not as agile as he once was. Aslan circles him slowly and patiently. When Shadow leaps towards him, Aslan meets him halfway with jaws wide open.