Laserwatch IV: 24

~ written anime action series | I | II | III |

The following takes place in 24 hours.

Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 14

12:00am An explosion awakens Exen from his slumber. The condo is on fire. Panicking but prepared, on instinct, he checks nightstand. He is already wearing it. Of course, dummy. A backdraft shoots towards him from his door, housing an unrestrained inferno. Exen kicks up his carbon-fiber-laced sheets with his toes, lightweight, bulletproof and flame retardant, they are blocking the flaming debris aimed his direction. Clutching them with his right, he uses this shield to continue protecting against the growing flames as his bare feet slap against the wood in haste. He’s heading towards the window, right arm outstretched. It is reinforced but not laserproof. No time to get anything else, another explosion and this thing might not hold up. 69th story. This should be fun. Exen fires and leaps into the newly shattered glass of the window, wearing the sheet now tied round his neck as a cape. A final, concussive explosion launches him further out into the midnight sky. Flames lick at his back. Exen is wearing his pajamas. Exen is wearing nothing. He is hurtling towards the street below, cape fluttering along the currents. He closes his eyes, taking in the cool oblivion over his body.

1:00am Closer to the ground now, Exen sends a charge into the sheets. Hardening into an exoskeletal framing, he begins to paraglide with them. A good purchase. Exen always considered himself a wise online shopper. He quickly angles his arms up and out from his body to slow him from the fast approaching street. Using the swift currents of the night wind cutting through the tall buildings to his advantage, Exen weaves in and around the buildings, the sheet cape fluttering easily with the movement. Eventually, he finds his destination and heads towards it. He shatters into another building. From there, Exen knows exactly where he needs to go.

2:00am Exen shops for new pants. There’s no one here, strange. He checks the glowing map pillar for his spots. Oh yeah, none of these stores are open. Donning some newly borrowed pants, Exen heads towards the exit. He keeps the carbon fiber sheet cape, despite the odd look, now considering it to be a good luck charm. Firing around the wok himself, he grabs something from the food court before he goes.

3:00am Exen exits the mall. He receives a call, a direct-demand uplink from Central Command. They know of and inform Exen of an international terrorist plot throughout the city. Orchestrated by the Russians, they have already begun deploying widespread counter-measures. Part of their plan, they being the Russians, was to eliminate all special agents capable of responding to their actions in other parts of the city, including himself. They are relieved to hear of his escape. Others, Exen learns, were not so fortunate. Ha! Luck had nothing to do with it. Orders? Stand-by and await further instruction.

4:00am Fuck that. In haste, Exen heads to the peak of the Business Tower 1. The tallest skyscraper in the city, a node of optimal connectivity to the satellites orbiting the Earth. From there, he scans the city for abnormal activity. Using the tech on his wrist, along his body, in his brain, Exen attains as compete a picture as even Central Command’s intelligence can give. Always slow to act. Let’s see about these Russians. Exen believes he can do better, better yet, he knows it. He brings up the laser-HUD and associated map overlay of the full metropolitan area. It displays all known intelligence on Russian operatives and military presence, including the syndicated funding from foreign and domestic financiers. Central Command is sending him cessation requests, threatening to cut off his access to such League resources. Bugger that. Exen ignores them. What they don’t know is that he has hardline access to League servers, it was among the first things he did when he joined up a little over two years ago. Becoming part of the League was never going to undermine upon his personal freedom — that of going anywhere and doing anything, whenever he felt like it. If I have a code at all, it goes something like that. Getting back to his scan, Exen is overwhelmed. Activity levels are off the charts. There is a proverbial bazaar of bustling activity among known terrorist organizations, intelligence agencies from all over the world, his own colleagues from the League, and unknown actors. Chaotic was an understatement, this was the Super Bowl of geopolitical military-industrial complex fuckery. So many were going to die over these next few hours.Tofu-no-kado-ni-atama-wo-butsakete-shinde! So much to sift through. Exen knew the league was likely doing the same, and with many more bodies on it. But he intended to find the source first. He wanted to be the first; he wanted to win. He was probably the only one competent enough to do this in the midst of all this madness. He would focus his actions, be like a… laser in the night, honing in on the real story, the real enemy. The League was big and strong and influential, and these things made them slow and inflexible and malleable to the worst of the world. And he was running out of time. Exen closed his eyes to the internal mindspace of screens at his disposal, entered quarter lotus, and got to work sitting here on top this marvelous city.

5:00am Got ’em. Exen’s red-lined cybernetic eyes open to the cool air above the tumult of a city in heightening crisis. The wind picks up, flicking his bed sheet cloak at his back as he finally stands. He closes his branches of various surveilli with resolve. A team of four. They are the true operatives, carrying out the true mission here. Everything else is sleight of hand, and it’s been working. Police, military, and special forces were caught up in the game. They, the four unconfirmed Ruskies(?), had infiltrated some of the tunnels beneath the city and were moving fast amongst the subterranean network. A surrounding collection of misdirecting attacks along this path had masked their presence to counter-terrorist operators from within the city. Bombing of government buildings, attempted hijacking of public transports, mass murderous mayhem at seemingly random intervals. But not random at all. There was a singular purpose in all of this. Exen could hear the screams and explosive chaos in his uplink. He had long since turned it off. Don’t need those distractions. I can end this, if I focus. Now correlating all the intel gathered, viewing their route and the mass coordination of this effort — it was quite clear what the point of all this really was. There could only be a few objectives worth this amount of time and allocation of resources. And the timing… yes, it was very clear. They were going to assassinate the Primex.

6:00am Letting out a deep breath finally, Exen leaps from the seat of contemplation and into the heat of the conflict. Maximum Effort! He descends onto a course for a date with his destined destination. Exen takes the air currents onwards into the rising sun, and towards the Capital. He once again glides over the cityscape.

7:00am Just out of downtown, Exen is besieged by Apaches in the air around him. Likely stolen, some of our own. No way of knowing which faction these guys are a part of, but they don’t look friendly. They rise up on his flank. He continues to glide on his cape — using laser bursts to propel him as necessary. But he’d be hard pressed to dog fight Apaches in this state. Should’ve picked up the Laserjet, but this is all too time sensitive.. I had no choice. He detects missiles locking on. Well, I’m certainly not going to die. Hate to do this! Exen grips the edge of the outstretched blanket and brings it to his core with velocity. The missiles launch forward, missing into some unknown collateral damage. Dropping below their course, Exen lines up three shots for three choppers. Laser missiles that are incapable of missing. The military copters burst into flames and fall out of the sky. Exen himself, plummets to the ground, his altitude sacrificed for the shot. Nearing the ground, Exen spots a tree!

8:00am Spinning with boost, Exen uses the blankets’ friction colliding among the huge trees’ branches to slow his falling speed on the way down. By the time he hits the ground, it is as though he fell down from the length of the tree. He rubs the ache from his muscles while getting his bearing. Glad that worked. A voice calls out to him.

“Young man,” an old man says from a table nearby. Exen is in a park. Mid-central park.
Exen ignores him, checking the time. Still on track, I need to keep heading southwest.
“Care for a game?” The old man calls out again.
“No,” Exen sternly responds.
“I just want to play one game. Winner take all. Whatd’ya say?”
Exen begins to jog away.
“Ehh yung lad. If you don’t play me in this game of chess… well, I’ll blow up the whole park,” the old man shouts his way.
Exen finally turns. He looks at the man. He wears a sky blue sweater, thick glasses with chain, still in his slippers, cane nearby leaning against the stone tables with chessboards already on them. Exen returns,
“You’re a terrorist?”
“Yes. Yes, I am. I have a incendiary bomb wrapped around my chest. Ready to blow.”
Exen sincerely panics for a moment — I’m bad at chess. The damning thought lingers before he realizes there’s no one in the park. Except for himself and this old terrorist.
“But, there’s no one here anyway. You mean to tell me: You’re here in a park, alone, with a bomb around your chest? And you want to play me in chess or you’ll detonate, killing yourself for no real reason than to take out some random guy?”
“I have lived a long and fruitful life. I think it’s time for me to go.”
“But… this doesn’t make any sense.”
“Decide in the next 3 seconds or I send us both to hell.”
Exen waits exactly 3 second, “Go ahead.”

The old man says nothing and detonates the bomb on him. The incendiary result envelopes Exen in flames… and his protective laser shield activated in the moments previous, invisibly, during their conversation. Unharmed, Exen begins to jog southwest, away from the burning parts of the park. What the hell was that. I guess anyone could be a terrorist today.

9:00am I wonder if I would’ve beaten him though. Exen pulls up from his sprint to the Federal Reserve bank. There are dozens of men and women running out of the front door and down the steps. They carry big bags, paper money fluttering out of the seams. They are throwing them like madcaps into the back of a big Mack truck. Standing on top of the truck, the leader of the madcaps: a tall woman, long black hair flowing across her back, blowing in the wind, her hands behind her back on her overcoat, overseeing the op. She turns to regard Exen. He smiles. Lora. He nods, leaving her to her good work. Too bad there’s no time to catch up. He looks around the parking lot for the fastest car he can find. Hopefully, they didn’t all leave just yet, some still trapped in the bank. Ah yes, a GTR. Exen gets into the car and hotwires it effortlessly. Good to see she’s still out there doing what she loves. Exen peels out of the parking lot, making eye contact with Lora once more, and smiling.

10:00am Next stop, the Sci-Link HQ. It was here Exen could gather some more key intel on these four operatives, before their inevitable confrontation. At the very least, their databases would let him view their identities, based on what he had gathered earlier, some of their history, and with that their capabilities. Exen had rented a computer here years ago to aid in intelligence gathering. It had more access even than League resources. The breadth of their data-gathering processes was truly astounding. But of course, it made sense. It was free to join, which allowed you to access to all the information in the universe. All you had to do was let them implant a chip inside your brain that allowed their organization to see and use everything you experienced as part of their ever-growing store of universal data. Exen supported the idea of this free flow of information and knowledge. It had come in handy for him more times than he could count. But even he has his limits. He kept the chip — removing it barred you from your membership, of course — but he had a workaround which allowed him to edit the feed being relayed back to the Sci-Link servers. There were certain things he wanted to keep out of the system, things which no one needed to know about him. Exen wasn’t sure how many people might consciously or unconsciously change their behavior due to the chip, but some probably did. Exen wouldn’t be one of them, he had decided. But most of his experience he was fine with them retaining. It baked into his own intelligence-gathering and allowed him to better analyze his own performance. Exen steps into his personal pod space and begins to enter the queries to get him where he wanted, to the information he needed. He checked the time once more. This might take a while, but it’s well worth it. I need to know what I’m up against.

11:00am [hitting the books + lunch at cafe]

12:00pm Winking to the librarian, Exen walks out of the Sci-Link library. High noon. Exen sighs. He quickly gets into the GTR, fires it up. I have some thinking to do. I’ll need to run through every potential scenario in my head, on this drive, with each one of them. I need to be prepared. This will be a productive drive. They are each so different… one of them still unknown… At the first intersection on his road, Exen is t-boned, violently. The car spins out of control, was that my fault? before he can gather himself, another car slams into him again. Well, someone wants me dead. Exen muses vigorously. A lull in the crunching of metal. Exen stares out of his cracked windshield at the driver in the car opposite. It’s that guy! C’mon. A bald, animosity-filled face mouths to him ‘Remember me?,’ From the truck that did the initial ramming. Exen did, somewhat. But he didn’t think he deserved this. He didn’t want to have to do this, to activate her. But today seemed like a day that he was gonna have to no matter what. “L, take control of the car,” Exen commands, speaking directly into his wrist. The car’s system links up and began to reverse with precision, winding its way through the mess of cars now piling up at the four-way. Exen lasers a custom rectangular sun roof, while the car e-brake reverses into a forward position, going against traffic. Is this really the most optimal method of escape?, Exen mulls. He snapped out of it, popping his head out of the sun roof. He had no choice but to trust her. It was a mantra. Serving as his own defensive turret, he aims his wrist at the cadre of four trucks now chasing him into oncoming traffic, firing shots non-stop. He keeps the intensity of the blasts low in an effort to minimize collateral damage. There were plenty of cars on the road now, trying to evacuate the city apparently. Two of the cars collide with oncoming traffic in the tumult of the pursuit. Exen snipes another with a grimace. Leaving only the bald, mad guy. The look of determination on his face is comical, considering now that Exen can’t actually remember what he did to constitute this guy coming after him. Maybe he was just a terrorist with a bent memory. He sets his aim, ready to end the farce. But then he notices he isn’t wearing a seatbelt. Driving at such speeds, we are… time to teach this guy a lesson. Exen looks up ahead. The police station is coming up. Perfect. Exen looked back, the guy had edged up much closer, the protective ramming barrier on his front bumper now dangerously close to the GTR’s own. Wait for it… speed up now! The GTR kicked into gear and with the space created, Exen fires a massively concentrated and destructive blast into the street at the truck’s front two tires. They each explode, halting the progress of the car so violently that bald guy comes crashing through the windshield and heads directly towards the second story of the police station. Ha-ha, Exen huzzahs. Except he overshoots the police station, instead landing in a dumpster in a backalley nearby. At that speed he’s probably dead anyway.

1:00pm The banged up, but still functional GTR continues cruising towards their destination — the Mall, the real one. Shame, this is a real nice car. Exen looks out over the horizon now, pondering thoughts within thoughts. Just before he comes to something big, he is interrupted by a voice inside his head.

“Predator missile incoming, predator missile incoming, pred — !!

Exen tucks and rolls out of the slowed GTR. If they had locked onto his position, there was no saving it. I would salute the work it had done, if there was time. That rich banker asshole probably never truly appreciated her. An explosion rocks the world behind him, wiping it from the earth. Exen keeps running. “PM incoming!” Another one, he hears inside his neural network. L was efficiently abbreviating now. Another fiery inferno lands behind him. He’s now in the grass of the long Mall walkway. Am I even allowed on here? “PM incoming!” Zig-zag pattern? He did it. Exen wasn’t sure whether it was helping or not. “L, I need to know how to stop this!” It’s someone nearby — running analysis now — it’s coming from that tower up ahead — top floor. Okay then. This guy is gonna eat shit. Exen continued to run in a near perfect zigging and zagging pattern, making his way to the end of the walkway. Three more missiles landed upon the courtyard of the Mall before he made it in range. The tower at the end of the Mall was about 20 stories high, within reach of his laser grapple. He hooked it into at a hold near the top and propelled himself up onto the side of the tower, running vertically along it to make the final meters to the window. I wonder if he’s still launching missiles, now knowing I am this close. Exen didn’t hear another warning as he launched his own shoulder into the glass of the top story of the tower. The controller, a short man with glasses, was already out of his chair. Exen lie on the ground surrounded by glass. The had a gun. In an effort to dodge the first shot, Exen flips his body upright and to his right, onto all fours. Anticipating the next shot, he rolls to his left, now in a ready-to-dash forward position. The next shot is true, but Exen is already spinning, in order to deliver a roundhouse to the controller-of-the-PMs’s dome. It connects, full force, and the man is launched into the glass paneling, and out of the other side of the tower. Exen’s uplink buzzes once more, “PM incoming!” Ah nuts.

2:00pm Exen follows the plummeting, hopefully unconscious predator-man into the open air out of the top story. The tower behind him lights up in the unholy flames of the laser-guided bomb. The draft of hot air provides for him the appropriate force to glide once again upon his sheet cape he is still wearing. He banks left for about a half mile, over the highway. He flies down and lands on the back of an eighteen-wheeler. Headed south, good. He would take this one as far as necessary.

3:00pm Exen eventually leaps off the truck near his destination. Walking down from the side of the highway, and into the woods, he headed towards the point of interception with the four operatives. There is a government bunker nearby in these woods, and it’s a checkpoint for the subterranean route they are using to get to the Primex compound. Exen intends to cut them off. The timing seemed to be right, based on his own predictions from earlier surveillance. He hoped he was still accurate. Jogging through through the woods, it is chilly. Also, quiet. Too q — Exen hears an all-too-familiar sound. The whoosh of a laser sword drawing. No… Turning he sees one of them. It’s Viktor. The Assassin. He wields one? Blue. A rival. It had been a while. Saying nothing, he waits, holding the blade aloft. He is waiting… for me to do the same. How courteous. Exen knew all too well what that thing could do. He had me unawares and could’ve killed me. Must be against his code. The least I can do is return the favor. A duel. Honor among assassins I suppose. Exen draws his own laser blade. Red. Viktor charges with precise fury, bringing the blade down vertically. Exen draws his own sword to bear across for the block. Back and forth the two skilled swordsman go. Viktor circles around often, trying at least two separate attacks in every maneuver, feints and jabs. Exen is more physical, he blocks with ferocity and throws in off-hand punches and sidelong kicks, in the hopes of opening up holes in the defense of his opponent. They are nearly evenly matched, except for one thing. Exen neural link, alongside L, appears to be processing the information from the battle (and all of Viktor’s other bouts gathered into his mindspace) much faster. Exen gains more and more ground, Viktor narrowly escaping being decapped two separate times before he sees the mortal anxiety in his opponents’ eyes. Viktor steps back, Exen remains where he is. For the moment, they stare into each other’s stances, souls. Viktor breathes through his mouth; Exen, through the nose. Exen subvocalizes something, a rarity for him: Laser Technique #100 — Precise Prediction. What do they say? Smoke ’em if you got em. L cashes it in, illuminating Exen’s mindspace with the tools of the request he just put in. Vik closes his eyes perhaps saying a prayer to his dark god, before letting out a battle cry, his first vocalization, and charging forward. He brings his sword straight on, as if a fencer. Exen steps dangerously close before meeting him, to position himself for a move. The sword in his right, he brings it up vertically next to his face to block and delivers a punch with his left to Viktor’s midsection, placing him off-balance. Exen, now on one knee seems vulnerable to a sweeping low attack — Viktor delivers it furiously. Exen can see his eyes light up with the expectation of victory. In fact, Exen expected it. He leaps back, letting the blue blade dig into the forest floor at his feet. Stepping around in a 360 degree arc, Exen leaves his feet and delivers his own blade into the chest of Viktor, Russian assassin primo. They make eye contact once more, Vik falling slowly into the crook of a tree. Exen leaves him there, heading towards the bunker. He wears what Viktor wore on his wrist, now around his ankle. Can’t afford this thing to fall into the wrong hands.

4:00pm Now three left. Exen, checking the time, in a rush, ignoring L’s warnings in his head, and strolls into the front door of the bunker without thinking. Immediately, he faces down the barrels of 20+ guns trained on his head. The primary entrance room is two stories, each now filled with goons carrying automatic weapons, helmets, body armor. What a pain. From the center of the balcony overhead directly facing him, he hears the slow, condescending clap of.. “Anatoly,” Exen curses under his breath. Another one of them.

“What a foolish decision you’ve made,” Anatoly speaks with a faux accent, truly. Exen knew he was a robot, or rather a cyborg humanoid or something.
Exen’s hands were up, “So what now?”
“Now, we shoot you dead. It’s quite simple. Except, we can’t risk harming the device. So we’ll take you in,” the guard with automatic rifles, two of them, started to approach.
“Oh and I watched your battle with Vik, quite incredible. He was one of our best. Shame. But perhaps, we can break you and turn you over — “
In his blathering, Exen was running calculations. There were about a dozen ways for him to get out of this situation, mostly intact, before the guards reached him in the next 4 seconds. A whispered sweet nothing from L narrowed it down to one.
“Laser Technique: #42: Instantaneous Transmission!”
“Wha — “ before Anatoly could finish his syllable, Exen was directly behind him, on the balcony in the midst of all his men — men he now knew were also robots. Interconnected.

“B-but how!” Anatoly pleaded. The guns were now trained in their direction, although they looked as though they had lost their resolve. Exen holding him in a choke hold, chuckled to himself. Been a while since I’d done that ish.

Exen saw no reason not to explain such a power, “A teleportation tech accessed via the laser grids meshing with the energy in the very air around him. And quite instantly, you are my bitch,”

“Now, we can — “
“No, you’re — ”
“But we have you — “
“Not for long.”
Exen fired a single bolt into the back of his chrome, magnetic skull. Deactived, Anatoly and his men collapse, ones utilizing the same local operating system and energy source.

Good call. Here’s to you, L.

5:00pm Exen continued to stride down the underground path towards the Primex bunker compound. Should be less than a mile now to the secret entrance. There was no telling what kind of opposition lay ahead there, especially on a day like this. I’ll have to invoke the League in order to have any sort of credibility there. Hell, I’ll have to do it in order to not get shot at on sight. Cross that bridge when we get to it. In the chaos of the day and the timing of unexpected interruptions, it was difficult to tell how far off of his initial prediction he was, concerning the exact timing of the group being able to reach the Primex. Only two left now though. But among them, one of the most dangerous criminals patriarchs in Russian history, a man known as Andrei. He will be the one carrying it out, Exen was certain. I can defeat him. He was nearly there when he heard a prominent blast overhead. A bomb? He found the nearest exit to the surface, a ladder leading up. Exen cranks it open quickly. He can already smell the smoke, feel the heat. Glancing around, up ahead on a hill to his left he sees the Capital, and the Primex likely inside it, is in a wild inferno. If it’s burning, crumbling, then that means they are using — … Exen’s thinking ends abruptly when hears the sound of a hi-speed jet. It shoots directly overhead before he can register the meaning of its presence. A second bomber. It delivers its payload as Exen shuts the lid back into the bunker. The shockwave knocks him from his ladder. From that moment, Exen knows oblivion.

6:00pm [unconsciousness]

7:00pm Exen awakes with a start. Heavy breathing, pain in the back of his head. What just happened? The capital just got bombed to hell, right. He started to climb back up the ladder with speed. Need to check for survivors. Need to get in touch with the league. He checks his watch. I need to move, I’ve completely missed the timeline. I am working in the dark now. Just before opening the hatch onto the surface, Exen remembers. The compound is nearly invulnerable. They were using thermos. It was the only explanation for why they would think bombs would be effective. Exen entered the appropriate settings to protect himself from any radiation and proceeded. On the surface, the compound and surrounding forested area appear to be destroyed. The air was thick with a haze that his laser suit told him was definitely irradiated. Exen moves quickly, calling Central command as he does. Did the Primex get out? Where is the Primex? Has the Primex been successfully assassinated? If he was here when those thermos connected… No answer from Central. “L, run a sweep.” I need to find a thread, a clue, a lead to help me find them. It may be too late to save the Primex, but it’s not too late to avenge him. No life signs detected. Exen had few notions of nationalism, or a real political association with the current Primex. But the fact that he had died under his own watch, being so close… It hit him hard. Failure always did, because it was rare. Exen heads into the ruins of the burning building. Not a lot of bodies, but this place is barely inhabited anyway. It was meant to serve a solitary base of operations for the Primex, in times of crisis. He could come here alone, or with a small contingent of trusted individuals, and provide him everything he needed to carry out his duties. Thus, they had started a widespread operation throughout the city, to ensure he would retreat here to his compound outside of the city. Admittedly, it didn’t make much sense to take him out here, arguably the most fortified place you could do it… Exen took note of the surface levels of the Compound, completely ruined, in some places still smoking and melting apart. Coming closer now to the devastation, a massive hole now resided where the central area of the Compound once stood, hundred and hundreds of feet down. It was clear, anyone here has been annihilated, and without a trace of any evidence…

8:00pm Exen now moved out to the runway, where specialized planes landed and took off from this remote location. Perhaps something is still intact to get moving with. He hears a familiar sound. The flight of jets overhead. Two of them, on approach. They are coming to land… Quickly hiding in some nearby rubble, Exen lies in wait. Were these the same bombers from earlier? There was little doubt. Landed, the two pilots exit from their cockpits, and run towards one another, helmets in hand. Exen begins his own approach towards them on the other side of the runway. They embrace, and clasp each other’s hand in an epic high five. They don’t look armed. Exen raises his wrist at the ready. I don’t want to have to kill them immediately, I need information now more than ever. “Hey!”

The pilots turn. One is Andrei, the master criminal. The other… No. Exen freezes, unable to understand.

The Primex himself stands in the middle of the runway. An orange and black flight helmet hooked under his arm. His hair blows in the wind. Both men no longer smile, they each face up with their antagoniser.

“You…” Exen mouths.

“I’ve know your face from somewhere, don’t I,” The Primex speaks with resolve. Exen offers no response.

“Exen, is it? I never forget who my most impressive operatives are. The League has long appraised me of your exploits. I’d hope — “

“Enough Mr… enough. What… what is going on? I thought you might’ve died in the bombing… You shouldn’t be here… You can pilot a stealth bomber…” Exen was putting it together; L already had. She waited patiently for her master to catch up.

“You’re a traitor. No, even more than that. You are the mastermind. You are the one that has been operating from the inside, orchestrating these attacks… incredible. No one knows, even suspects…” Exen was disappointed.

“And here we are,” The Primex holds out his arms, smirking with that familiar charisma. Exen shakes his head slowly.

“And no one is ever going to know,” Andrei speaks.

“You are in no position to negotiate anything. I am taking him in, it’s my duty… you, I will probably just execute. You’re much too dangerous,” Exen returns, leveling his arm in their direction.

Andrei moves to step in front of the Primex, whispering something to him almost imperceptibly. Exen reacts.

“Stop!” He fires a single bolt, at his left side, away from the Primex, but in line with Andrei’s side.

Andrei screams, “Go!” while he reaches out his own hand. Incredibly, he appears to catch the laser bolt in mid-air. Exen’s eyes widen with revelation. He’s of the Psy!

The Primex sprints back to the cockpit of his plane. Exen begins chasing after him, firing more shots in the direction of Andrei.

He catches each one, disintegrating them. Exen turns his attention away for a moment, leveling a shot at the stealth fighter. The Primex edges closer. Shoot to disable, not to ignite any explosion that might kill The Primex in the collateral. He fires two shots. Each one flies errant, to his left. He looks over, Andrei was able to redirect them in flight. From that distance, no way. What the fuck is this guy. The Primex gets into the cockpit, fires the engine. Dammit! Exen throws his wrist back at The Psy, but he’s already flying through air, buffeted by a psychic assault. He lands in a roll and starts firing more shots while strafing further away and towards the other fighter. The Psy is floating now, arms outstretched. Rubble from the devastated compound begins to launch in Exen’s direction, he slices it apart with his laser sword. Immobilized for the moment, he watches as the Primex’s fighter takes off. A supersonic boom lights up the air. Exen begins to run towards the other fighter. I’ll just have to shoot him down, and then save him from crashing. Simple enough. Before his eyes, the jet is dismantled, with precision. The parts shoot out in every direction. Exen shields himself. He turns to Andrei. Dammit, dammit, dammit! I’ll think of something. But first things first. Exen charges Andrei, subvocalizing: give me something to work with L, how do I kill a Psy Perfect. Exen blasts back more rubble flying his way. He closes the distance, raising his arm as if to fire. Exen sees him, floating casually a few feet in the air above the pavement of the runway, move as if to block, same as before. Gotcha. Exen brings his hand back, flashes a sign, then speaks it into existence: “Laser Technique #331: Micro-Ignition.” A small, wave of heats blasts out from his form, coinciding with a slide right underneath where Andrei was risen. He turns his body sideways and fires a laser bolt directly into Andrei’s face. He stops it using his ability, and smiles.

“You have lost Andrei,” Exen smiles back.

Andrei responds through gritted teeth, “It is not so.”

“The impurities and excesses of oxygen in the air have been burned away, the very elements which allow to dispel, misdirect, and manipulate any matter with your Psy abilities.”

Exen watches him try to disintegrate the laser bolt. Instead, it remains, in a stasis.

“try to move. You cannot, can you? You have expended so much energy. It’s been a while but I remember how y’all work.”

“Damn you…”

Exen starts to walk away, away from the compound and back towards the city.

“You will leave me alive?” Andrei didn’t understand just yet.

“Maybe, but that isn’t my intention. The inertia on the bolt is only in stasis, as soon as you run out of energy it will continue on its natural course. The one that one goes into your skull. Of course, maybe you’ll be able to move out of the way in time but I doubt it. If you actually can, then perhaps you deserve to live,” Exen speaks matter-of-factly. He continues on his way.

Andrei awaits his doom in strained silence.

Exen sees a flash of light in the darkness of the forest ahead, and soon hears something.

9:00pm Exen sprints through the woods, back towards the metro area of the city. Coming up over a small landing, there is light glow. Down in a clearing below, is the stealth plane, the one The Primex was piloting. Shot down… It’s wings are severed, the cockpit is still mostly intact. Exen hurries down, thinking he still might be alive. Inside the cockpit, lies an unconscious, bloodied Primex. Exen reaches out to check his pulse.

“I was a fool to trust him…” The Primex breathes out. His eyes remain closed.

“Sir,” Exen couldn’t help himself, out of force of habit. Chain of command was ingrained, and this guy was —

“We were all in this together… and now… he’s killed me too…”

“Who is the fourth?”

The Primex takes a deep breath, his last, “it’s… the… 2nd…”

The 2nd. His 2nd in command. The Archmaster… Mikkelson Raimi. The one to take his seat upon his death or step down. Although that was a fake name, Exen now knew. They had likely planned it to appear as though The Primex had died at the compound. But then Mikk betrayed him and shot him out of the sky… He was too much of a liability to keep around. But The Primex had trusted him enough to undertake this whole thing alongside him. Whoever Mikk truly was… he was an unknown commodity…

A new Primex, installed by the Russians.

Exen had to get back to the city. I need to end this.

He looked down at the now unmoving body of the former supreme world leader. He could burn this whole area, ensure no one ever knew. He could take his body back with him, give him a proper burial. Explain what he’d seen, what he now knows. It might be the only proof available to all of the impossible knowledge now in his head. Exen decided to do none of that. He left him. I’ll let the random winds of nature take their course. There’s only one thing left for me now.

10:00pm Exen runs back alongside the road, back into downtown. Back to the Mall. Central command hails him. Non-responsive, they send him a message — ‘there’s a new Primex and it will be The League’s responsibility to protect him.’ Exen throws his badge into a gutter on the way back into town.

11:00pm Exen runs up the steps two at a time. He was running out of time. The induction speech was almost over. He reaches the rooftop. He goes prone, pulling up the laser-scope he sets his sights on a lone figure down below. He smiles, speaking with conviction, pounding his fist, vowing vengeance or something. He’s overdoing it. This isn’t the Mikk the crowd knows. Of course, no one knows him. Perhaps the frays at the edges of his illusory self have begun to unravel. Who knows what would await this country, this world, with him in power. If I wasn’t here to end this. L pulses something into his brain — they will know it was you. And you have no way of proving your actions are just. Exen takes a deep breath to prepare his shot. He breathes out, subvocals to L.

“eh… I’ll deal.”

A silent shot rings out in the night. A 2nd Primex perishes in a day.

12:00am Exen exits the grid. A call from Central Command reigns throughout all channels of the world:

“Exen Excelsior has gone rogue!

~ to be continued