Lexx leaned toward Claudia, trying to keep her fingers from snagging his clothes again.  “Claudia, this is how it is.  Now, please.  Don’t interfere.”  He whispered, pushing her away with less force than before.  She frowned, but listened, walking toward Saign and her team.

The Kourwine in Saign’s group stepped up to her and began talking.  He felt it would be best to keep her distracted so she wouldn’t end up getting hurt in the oncoming battle.  Besides, he was bored and chatting about current events with one of his own kind was a rarity.  It intrigued him that she really hated the game.

“I’m Koanei, why don’t you come over here and talk,”  He invited Claudia politely, offering his hand.

Claudia stared at him a moment, glancing back at Lexx, then at Saign.  Her contact with indentured players was limited to Lexx and two others who were already captured.  Their masters had pretty much forbidden them to speak to anyone without permission.  Saign’s attention was on Lexx.

“If you don’t want to, I understand,”  Koanei continued speaking.

“Saign won’t mind?”

“We are free to do as we like with our time outside of the arena, within reason,”  The Kourwine gave Claudia a charming smile, breaking his serious expression.

“I assume you’re going to match me with Acadiu?” Lexx drug the toe of his shoe in the dirt, kicking up a little pile of dust.  “He could never take me in the practice matches.”  It was time to play and Lexx’s demeanor shifted.  It was hard for him to retain his composure when Claudia was holding onto him.  He stood confidently, uplifting his wings in a slight umbrella.  ‘I don’t want to fight him,…’  Lexx knew it would be Acadiu.  There was no question.  He would know Lexx best, mentally as well as physically.

“Lexx,…”  Acadiu shook his head and approached the Rishan, “I see you’ve developed a bit of arrogance.”  Lexx was a little surprised by how different Acadiu moved.  He was every bit as confident of his abilities as Lexx was and every movement was deliberately calculated to show off the fact that he did not have any visible weaknesses.  He was as tall as Lexx and muscular, with the long well defined limbs of his kind.  Acadiu let his robe slide off his shoulders and fall to the ground as he walked, “Time has a way of changing things.  I’m not the same person I was back at the Academy.  You know how bonding to the master dice changes us.  I have a more recent dice than you do.”

Lexx looked away a moment, remembering and feeling a strong sense of sadness growing within him.  He could still see Acadiu as he remembered him.  ‘I still think of him as that impossibly thin and fragile Sairah,… stubborn and determined past common sense.  He saw his way out as going to the arenas,… and it looks like he made it, but I don’t want that life.’  Lexx’s thoughts shifted to a more serious thought, ‘How will he fight?’