I reflexively covered my eyes and ears with darkness. My vision didn’t go black immediately. The image of the room was still burned into my eyes by the blazing light, and my ears still rang from the blaring klaxon. But even with my vision and hearing effectively cut off, I wasn’t completely blind. I could feel the air rushing through the powered armor’s cooling system, the rapid breathing from Amélie in the other room.
Savage collapsed on the ground, arms wrapped around his ears and eyes. I could feel the sound the armor was producing, like a tangible wall of sound. Compared to that, everything seemed silent. I’m the only one who can act.
The fear Amélie was broadcasting lessened, and I could feel my heart slow down. The armored person started to move into the room, and I jumped into motion, no longer frozen in terror. I threw the end of the paracord out towards where I remembered the glass door being and teleported to the end. Throwing the door open, I teleported myself over the rail with the cord.
I fell, rapidly picking up speed, and after about a second, I teleported back to the mark I’d left on Savage. I burst out of the mark I’d left on him at a shockingly fast speed. I felt a flurry of motion from the armored person as they tried to brace themself, but I was moving far too fast for them, even with their reflexes enhanced by the armor and combat drugs.
I slammed into the armor feet first, bending my knees to absorb some of the impact; I didn’t want to break any of my bones. The armored person toppled, but was able to roll back to his feet easily. I’d forgotten how nimble the heavy armor could be.
Now that I was closer and had bought some space, I searched with my power to find an opening in the armor, to see if I could tag the person inside. Fuck, it’s airtight. I’m not going to be able to take him down. I need to get Savage out of here.
I teleported back to Savage. I’ve done this before. How did I do it last time? I tried to recall how I had done it. I was overloading then. There’s no way I’ll be able to match that.
A tremor in the air behind me warned me of an object approaching, but I couldn’t react fast enough. An arc of pain shot through my body and the world, though already black, went silent.
A gentle breeze blew through me, nudging me into wakefulness. I remained still and tried to figure out where I was from the air currents in the room.
Wherever I am, I can get out whenever I want by jumping to one of those. Might as well gather some information while I’m here.
The room felt small, with a lot of circulation. I could feel a few people breathing very nearby. Reaching out with my power, I found I couldn’t feel any of my marks anymore. That’s not good.
I opened my eyes and was greeted with darkness. It took me a moment to remember that my eyes and ears were still covered, blocking out light and sound. I cautiously let the darkness covering them fade, but was still surprised by the loud rumbling from all around me, or at least it sounded loud to my ears. I looked around without moving and found myself in the back of a truck.
“I apologise for my boys’ handling of your situation,” said a voice with a hint of a southern drawl. “They do tend to get a bit… zealous.”
I remained silent until I found the speaker. He was sitting directly across from me in the back of the truck.
Why didn’t I notice him earlier?
“This is likely a result of the combat stimulants. Faster reaction times and better tactical reasoning, but makes them a tad aggressive.”
I remained silent.
“I used to have a nickname when I served in the forces. Colonel Chaos. That name didn’t last long. Soon, it was Captain Chaos. Then Commander Chaos. Of course, I was never really promoted, except honorarily. I was too valuable in a combat role.”
He’s not breathing, I realized. I shifted up to sitting so I could get a better view of the speaker. His lower face was covered with a white bandanna, and a similarly white strip covered his eyes.
“I never liked the moniker. I like order. I like things to be in their places,” he continued. “This is why I am now called Temple. I understand the importance of making an impression. This is twice Blackwell has stolen from me. It will not happen again.”
“I don’t work for Blackwell, if that’s what you think,” I said.
“I know that. You are of the Antithesis.”
What the hell does that mean?
“You worked for Brandon Lim and his terrorist cell, then you worked with the heroes against them. You worked for Blackwell, now, you work for Virtue. You are a free agent.”
It’s weird how people still believe that.
“An agent of entropy.”
“Are you trying to offer me a job?” I asked.
“No. Not a job. You will kill Myriad and return the armor to me, along with the ‘Cocatrice’ device her tinker has created. Do not kill the tinker. She might be useful.”
“I don’t kill people.”
“That was not a request, it is a fact. You are a shadow, I am the light. When I move, you too must move or be destroyed. Without that which casts you, you are nothing. It is your nature.”
What the fuck is this guy talking about? That made no sense.
“Was that a threat? I honestly can’t tell.” I tried to sound sardonic, but my unease managed to creep into my tone.
I should get out of here, I thought to myself, then remembered, i can’t. My marks are gone. Besides, I want to figure out what this guy’s angle is.
“That was not a threat. It was a fact. I speak the truth.”
“Why do you think I’ll do this for you?” I asked.
“Your father never saw eye-to-eye with me either,” he said, staring at me through the cloth wrapping his face. “The generations change, but the actors remain the same. You will see the light in time.” He leaned forward and twisted his head to look out the front of the van. “The tide will likely have changed by now,” he said to the driver. “It is safe to return.”
He turned to me and reached up to his face. Before I could react, he yanked the bandanna over his face and cloth covering his eyes off. The van filled with a burning light that I could feel searing through my covering darkness, far brighter than the light from the Temple Sun armor. My body froze, muscles locking up against my will.
I’m glad we had this chat,
said the man. His voice was the only thing I could hear, and it filled my world, tearing me apart with its latent power.
My mind went blank.
When my vision returned, I was sitting on a bench in abandoned train station near the Collswell University campus.
It took me a few minutes to be able to put together coherent thoughts again, but my first was, What the fuck?