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Danny’s house sat at the end of a block, a mile or two away from Kyane’s house. It was a two-story yellow house with brickwork covering everything else. Lattice up the sides, and comfortable porch room, and usually four mid-high-end cars in the driveway. It was different on the night of the party. Rows of cars lined the street. All the windows were open letting out loud trap, mumble rap, decade-old pop songs, and less than legal smoked plant scent out into the world. The usually cozy porch held a gaggle of the school’s athletes, friends, girlfriends, and future hook-ups chatting up all the nonsense.
Desmond banged the desk he was sitting at. He, Jamie, Jerry, and Kyane’s partners were a block away, parked in a camouflaged cable van watching the party on the monitors. Marshal and his soldiers stationed themselves on the opposite side of the house to help with any possible evacuation situations.
“I should be there!” Desmond chopped the air around the screen with his hand. “I would kill at that but have my date home by 10:30 like the dad would want. Of course.”
“Right,” Jerry said.
Jamie vigorously shook his head. “Nope, too noisy for me. Can’t deal with the people.”
“Finally, someone I agree with,” Jerry said. Jamie peaked at his screen. Jamie rolled over, Jerry made room for him to examine all the meters and charts he was examining.
“It’s fine by me,” Hinotomi said. “I think you guys need to go out, have fun, and make mistakes.”
“And get punished when you do,” Damon added. “Like it should be. Not like how it is now.” He looked at a screen of a horizon of roofs with a park off to the side. A caption at the bottom read: DIEOUS. “How you are holding up, sweetie?” Damon said into his mic.
“Fine,” Kyane replied. “Tell Desmond I wouldn’t want to go to the party. Too much testosterone, BO, and misogyny.”
“My girl,” Damon said.
“Other than that, everything is silent. I’ve been checking the tracker and the homo-ischians are still on their way here. From the map Die gave me,” she looked at a map of Tower City with a clump of green dots on one side of the suburbs, and another heavier group of green dots on the other side, “they split up. Sensei said he would get the smaller group without Herreas and report back to you guys.”
“After I refill the tea,” Shaotoro added over the airwaves. He huffed and landed hard. He laid out on the grass under a tree in someone’s yard. “I’ll just take it easy. My group shouldn’t arrive for a little bit. I shouldn’t have said that.” He bounced to his feet. “I’ll call you back.” His line hummed.
“I guess that means I should start actually doing my job,” Kyane said. “Die, start a wide scan for any homo-ischians.”
“On it, Kyane,” Die said.
Dieous rose, spun around to scan the area around him. The air whistled off his bits of extended metal on the suit. The HUD beeped red around the community park. The image zoomed in on a group of six raptors and the hulking body of Herreas. “I got them coming up too. Good call on the party Des,” Kyane said.
“Don’t mention it, except to all your friends.” He thumbed his nose.
“I just did.”
“Just go intercept them!” Jerry commanded.
“On it,” Dieous said. She blasted her engines and leaped to the house across the street, up a few houses, and into the park.
Jerry switched his radio over to Shaotoro. “How are you doing?” he asked.
Shaotoro loudly huffed into his mic. A raptor flew into a small tree on a lawn and shattered it in half. “Almost ready for cleanup.” Four raptors remained. One went through the tree and the other had his head shoved through a nearby mailbox. The four raptors encircled him, with one on each side. The pounced at the same time. The two on the sides were inches closer. Shaotoro jabbed them in the jaw with his palms. He ducked, grabbed the one behind him by the chest and chucked him into the one in front. They tumbled down the street. The raptor on the right rose and whipped his tail. Shaotoro stepped away from the whip, kicked the middle of the tail, stepped in, grabbed the head of the raptor and dropped him to the ground. A raptor attacked from the side. He rolled onto the lawn with the halved tree. His foot touched a torso length tree limb. He grabbed it. The raptor swiped again. He dodged to the side, then swung the wood, bashing it against the raptors face. Another raptor stood up. He threw the limb. It rolled in the air and pinned the raptor in the chest. That raptor immediately pulsed into nothing. The fourth raptor executed a final charge. Shaotoro jumped to the remaining stump of the tree, and into the air, somersaulting over the raptor, grabbing its tail on landing, and swinging him in close to finish with a series of quick punches. The remaining raptor destabilized and vanished. “I’ll come join you at the van.”
“Don’t have too much of a party without me,” Kyane said.
Dieous landed in a large patch of shrubbery. She peaked over the edge. The homo-ischians crept through the empty grass field, not even trying to be in the tree line or shrub cover around them. A raptor turned its head in her direction. Dieous dropped low.
“What’s the plan?” Kyane asked.
“I was planning on saying that,” D13 said. “With the six raptors you could easily take them out by surprise with the taser and then fight Herreas.”
“I’m too weak when I tried to fight him before. I need some energy.”
“A joint taser to take out as many as possible?”
“I can’t waste them. Plus, Herreas is immune to the static for some reason.”
“The millennium fury?”
“I’m nowhere close to ready.”
A thud reverberated under Dieous. She looked up to see Herreas’s hand grasp her neck and toss her onto the grass. She left a series of imprints on the freshly cut green. “Well, well, well, this will be too easy,” Herreas said. He cracked his knuckles. “Grab him.”
“Improvise it is. Taser time,” Kyane said.
The raptors rushed him. Dieous flipped the tasers out and fired four shots. Two made contact. The raptors fell in a mix of convulsion and static. One stung Herreas in the shoulder, and the other blasted a mark into a tree. She activated the engines, dropped her legs and spun around the circle. The kicks knocked the four remaining raptors to the ground. They got back up like it was nothing.
“Your fancy fighting won’t help you when you are faced with such overwhelming force, child,” Herreas said. His men parted ways for him. He reeled his hand back and slapped Dieous across the field and into a tree.
Dieous’s HUD flickered on impact. Energy levels dropped. The four raptors split, then ran across the field. She hoisted herself out of the tree and onto her feet. She looked around and saw the noise readout from the partying at Danny’s house.
“I really hate that douche. Don’t look that word up I know what it means you just need to know it’s a bad word for garbage people.” Kyane said.
“Then why do it?” D13 asked.
“What are our levels at?” Kyane said.
“Not good at all. You’re avoiding the question I posed to you.”
“Can we make a super tased blast thing?”
“Just one, but it would make us easy prey for Herreas. You still are not answering my question.”
Dieous flipped up the tasers and extended the bars on the side. The taser notes on the HUD merged to show the single-shot remaining. She raised her arms and aimed them at space around the charging raptors.
Dieous fired the taser blast. Blue electricity compressed into a ball and hurled itself in the space. It sat in the space, weightless, waiting for direction to move. The grass below jutted toward the sky. Cracks of blue static began pouring out and filling the air until… Crazoom! The ball exploded. The electricity coursed through the air along the currents and jabbed into the raptors’ hard skin. They dropped to the ground; statuses covered in a blue blanket. The whole process took less than a second.
Kyane examined the HUD. The remaining energy left dropped to 20%. Warning flashes filled the sides of the screen.
The raptor soldiers destabilized and exploded in a loud hum of energy.
“Your gadgets may help against the weak simpletons but will get you nowhere with me!” Herreas hopped off the grass. The small jump metamorphosed into an arc across the field. “No wonder you are weak when you rely on such trivial toys and tools.” His collision with the ground shook the trees. He stood inches from Dieous. He raised his arm, only dropped it like a hammer.
Dieous curled and rolled to the side. The swipe cleared past him. “I have more than just gadgets.”
“Now!” Kyane commanded.
Dieous’s gauntlets opened and released the smoke, steam, and gas from the tasers into the air. The thick gray cloud wafted around the two of them and stuck like it was being held by the fishing line.
“Ahh, this same trick. I want to feel bad for how insane you are for trying to fight back.”
“I’m fighting for something important, unlike you!” Dieous darted through the smoke, vaulted into the air and chopped Herreas’s back. He didn’t even flinch. Herreas turned and swatted at the fly. Dieous ducked, grabbed the arm, pulled it in close, then fired off a series of body shots. Herreras cracked his tail. Dieous flew out of the smoke and tumbled onto the grass.
“You’re wrong, child. I’m fighting for a cause greater than you’ll ever know.” Herreas rapidly cracked his tail. The sounds morphed into a machine gun going off. The smoke dissipated quickly. Herreas stood unfazed. He marched through the remaining wisps of smoke, leaving marks all the way.
Shaotoro made his way into the van. The team was huddled around the screen of Dieous’s POV, the blue glow beaming off their faces. Damon held Hinotomi tightly. Desmond held a crushed wireless mouse in his hand. Jamie sat in the corner. Jerry held his hand over a button to call Marshal’s team. Shaotoro’s mouth unhooked and plummeted down. He turned out of the van and took off. Desmond saw him leave and followed.
Dieous crawled backward.
“What do we have left?” Kyane asked. Her heart kicked up like a jazz drummer. Her breathing quickened to her typing speed. “What can we do? What can we do?” She saw herself careening through the wooden crates. Shuttering behind boxes and hoping against everything not to be found.
“We only have one move we haven’t tried,” D13 said.
“No, no-no-no. I’m not ready. I can’t do it yet. I can’t. I’m not strong enough, I’m not fast enough.” She looked at the party. The red glow of tacky tiki lamps dampened into smears of blood on the wall. “I’ll fail them. I’ve failed them!”
“I see you’re not saying much, girl!” Herreas made every word seethe with vile and hatred. “Get up! Face me like a warrior! You were given all this power and do nothing! This was my team’s great foe? Great nemesis? You don’t deserve to be a slave to us, let alone your people’s champions. You say you fight for a noble cause. That’s clearly a lie. Step up so you can do something noble, die!” His footsteps rattled Kyane to her bones.
Shaotoro darted down a side street. The park was almost in sight. He looked and saw the tops of the taller trees clearing the field. He then heard the second set of steps behind him. He pivoted and struck his palm out. Desmond stumbled away from the hit, stopping a pencil length away. “What are you doin’, boy?” Shaotoro said.
“I’m going with you to save, Ky!” Desmond said. “I can’t stand by and watch her get her ass kicked from here to their world and back. I have to help.”
“How?” Shaotoro scanned him with elevator eyes. He noted his big physique, and athletic build, but nothing much else.
“I took down a couple of those raptor guys. One more can’t be that bad.”
“You’re an idiot. I’m not letting you go and fight that monster.”
“Try and stop me, grandpa…” in seconds Desmond was on his back with his arm stuck in the air and a cracking pain flowing through him.
“I do not have time for your help. Go to the party and start the evacuation. Just leave this area.”
“Okay,” Desmond said. Shaotoro let him go. Desmond stood up and dusted himself off. He looked and realized he was in front of Shaotoro now. He cocked his eyebrow. “But I’ll go check on Kyane first.” He blasted toward the park. His legs jolted him a yard at a time through the street, passed the houses, and to curb across the street. He froze when he saw what was happening.
“Stupid, lovesick, boy.” Shaotoro followed. He built up a speech in his head only for the entirety of it to be flushed down the toilet when he saw Herreas holding Dieous up by his chest, claws buried inside the armor. Dieous turned his head and stared at the two through his blue visor. The hyperlight blue visor started to dim.
Desmond’s mouth didn’t wait for the rest of his body. “KYANNNEEE!!” He screamed. His voice carried across the field.
“what?” Kyane murmured.
“What was that?” Herreas oscillated his head, stopping when he saw the audience. “Hmm, I recognize them. Why is that?” He kept his eyes on them until the vision came to him. “Right, from the mall.” He looked back at Dieous. “Is that your mate and dad?” He jostled Dieous around. He said nothing. “No? Well I’ll torture them to find out. Then kill them just as easily as you.”
“no, you won’t,” Dieous said, his voice low and dipped in static.
“Finally, you talk again!” He looked back at the onlookers and saw their jitters to get into the action. A grin crawled across his face. “Now let me make you scream.”
Desmond jumped up and down and mumbled. “I’m ready to go. I’m gonna kick that dude’s scaly butt!”
“No!” Shaotoro slapped him in the chest. “She can do it. We have to believe it.”
“She’s going to die, dude!” Desmond said.
“And so, will you,” Shaotoro said. “If it gets worse, I’ll intervene, but you need to start the evacuation.” He grabbed Desmond by the shirt and pulled him to his level. “You will do it! You want to be a hero, save the people, not kill yourself.”
Desmond’s eyes grew wide. “Okay, dude. I will.” He pulled back and adjusted his collar. “You don’t have to be so aggressive.”
Dieous looked back at the two. Kyane saw them talking. The memories of training, talking, dating, kissing, holding hands, punching hands, arguing, and wanting washed over him. “i won’t let you hurt them,” Dieous said.
“what do we have?” Kyane asked again.
“Nooothing, goood,” D13’s voice faded and reverbed in the helmet.
“awesome,” Kyane groaned. She looked deep into Herreas’s eyes. They were dipped in hatred, and contempt. She could feel what he wanted to do to her through the visual feed of the helmet. Everything would be over if he did. She knew that couldn’t happen. “can we try the millennium fury? do we have the power for that?”
“I can divert all energy to visuals and movement functions.”
“but I’m still too slow.”
D13 brought up the visual image of a chip at the base of Kyane’s skull with the words she said going through it and out the speakers. He pulled the image back to show the same chip going to the body. “Kyane, I am this chip. I am an operating system designed to help control and dictate all your brain’s functions through me to not overload both you and the systems.” Kyane continued to stare at Herreas getting ready to kill. “If you turn those systems off you will be able to move more freely but keep all the advantages. It will however be incredibly-”
“do it!” Kyane commanded to the best of her ability.
“I will be unable to speak to you.”
“do it,” she said again. “we need to beat him”
“Yes, Kyane.” The line ended
The visual D13 brought up zoomed in on the chip. A crack opened in the middle. The brainwaves rushed through the body with no regard. Kyane could feel the heavy metal around her body, yet it felt like a weight was lifted off her. Along the armor, small slats opened, and blue lights ran from the belt, up the chest, down the legs, to the diamond gauntlets and out to the fingers. She kicked Herreas in the chest. It was quick, precise, and felt like it happened before she completed the thought. Herreas flinched. She kicked again, and again, and again.
Herreas tossed Dieous away. He rolled on the ground, stopped prone, and jumped to his feet with ease. It seemed like all the damage Herreas inflicted passed. “This is what I wanted. Die with the honor of trying.” Herreas jumped at Dieous. He landed with a thud and cloud of grass clippings. Dieous was already on his side. He fired off a group of punches to the rib cage. Herreas leaned in to protect himself, only to get a face full of foot. Dieous flipped in the air, hitting Herreas with a series of kicks, landing in front of him and kicking him in the chest. Herreas slid back.
Kyane’s breathes came quickly. She felt liquid metal coming from her nose and into her mouth. She tried to wipe it away but couldn’t. Her vision faded. A series of pop-up shot onto the HUD. It was an overlay of Herreas’s body with impact points and damage readouts, and more information she couldn’t parse. It felt like an aggressive pop-up ad virus took over. They started to fade, and she quickly felt her eyes picking up the weight her body lost. “i have to finish this quickly.”
“How will you do that, child?” Herreas asked. He held his side. Green fluid ran down his snout.
Dieous didn’t respond. He jumped at Herreas, leading with his knee. He slammed him in the solar-plexus, landed, and hit him in the chin with an uppercut. Herreas went for a grabbing motion.
“you want to know why I fight?” Dieous slapped the Herreas’s arms away and punched his biceps. She looked up and saw Desmond. “it is so innocent people don’t get hurt because you think it will help your cause.”
Dieous brought her arms out. She felt the whipping winds collide with her palms. She collected as much wind then clapped his hands. The air whistled its way through the arc and between his palms. She then slammed his palms into Herreas’s chest. The air snapped and exploded outward, around the two. With no air, Herreas could no longer heal from his wounds quickly. Herreas’s eyes bulged.
Dieous brought his arms back and punched Herreas in the chest. She repeated the move with the other arm. She kept punching him over and over. The speed hastened until the only way to follow was the trail of blue neon his suit left behind. Each punch pushed Herreas’s chest in deeper and deeper, leaving ever-expanding bruises behind. The rhythm of the punches began shuttering the leaves and grass around them with the same in and out motion. Each punch became a gust of wind knocking Herreas to nothing. The blue lights quickly started fading. Dieous widened his stance. Brought his arm back and through a final punch into Herreas’s stomach. He coughed up green blood and flew into the sky, landing on a tree. The limbs quickly snapped, bringing both Herreas and the tree to the ground. He then destabilized and evaporated in a loud pop and green wave.
“Holy shit!” Desmond said. He ran his fingers through what hair he had. “That was so cool!” He bounded off the curb, down the street, jumped over a bench, through the grass and over to Dieous. “That was amazing, Ky!” She didn’t respond. “Ky?” The blue neon mask and armor accents faded. He placed his hand on her shoulder. She was a statue being knocked down. Locked in its pose and unable to do anything about it. “Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no!” He placed his hands on the cold metal. He could feel them burning and sticking. He rocked Kyane’s back from side to side. “Wake up, Kyane! Wake up!” His cries rang through the park but fell on deaf ears. All Shaotoro could do was watch.