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Darryl kicked open the door, and the rest of the group followed shortly after. They stepped into a large charred open space. Rocks, exercise equipment, and rubble were scattered all around, and small fires burned all over the place. The air was dry, and it was sweltering hot. The group fanned out into cover, and Vanessa, Arte, and Jude stepped forwards. Anastasia jumped into cover with Darryl and the guards, and set about reinforcing it.
“Are you the challengers who dare to disrupt my realm?” Takeo stood in the middle of the yard. He was wreathed in flames, and they flared as he spoke.
“Takeo, it’s over. The prisoners are all gone, and you’re outnumbered.” Jude stepped forwards.
“Who are you? Is Darryl too much of a coward to face me himself?” Takeo shouted. The flames grew more intense.
“Takeo!” Darryl called out from behind cover. “We don’t want to hurt you!”
“You know it won’t be that easy.” He took a deep breath, and his flames died down. His arms and legs were lined with fire, as he took a fighting stance. “Now, who wants to face me first?”
Jude stood there for a moment. Did this guy expect a duel? He stepped forwards, and got into his best impression of a trained fighting stance. If this is what he had to do to keep him occupied, he’d do it.
Takeo watched Jude for a moment, then quickly closed the distance between them. He went in for a kick, but Jude narrowly dodged it.
Jude swore. This guy was fast, and knew what he was doing. He had only every really fought street thugs with varying degrees of superpowers. He hadn’t actually had much experience against competent fighters. Jude sent a beam of light towards Takeo, who rolled out of the way, before landing a kick to Jude’s back.
Jude flew forwards, and could feel the heat on his back. That was definitely going to leave a mark. He scrambled to his feet, just in time to avoid taking a fist to the face. He needed a better plan, as ground combat was not working.
Jude took to the sky, and began to shoot beams down towards Takeo. He took enough care to make where he was shooting obvious so he didn’t immolate the kid.
Takeo ducked and weaved around blast after blast. While Takeo was preoccupied, Jude noticed one of the guards lining up a shot. The dart went towards Takeo, but he moved at the last second, causing the dart to whizz past him.
“So that’s your game? What happened to honor?” Takeo shouted, still dodging blasts from Jude. He kicked off the ground and a jet of fire erupted from his feet, sending him flying towards Jude.
Jude was about 30 feet in the air, and wasn’t particularly worried until takeo reached about 15 with no hint of slowing down. He also noticed an increasing ball of fire around one of Takeo’s fist. He got ready to roll out of the way of Takeo’s punch, but he got a burst of speed at the last second.
Jude watched in awe as the teenager’s fist, engulfed in flame, approached his stomach. He figured this was about to be the end. All because he didn’t take this more seriously and try to execute a smarter strategy. He didn’t have too many regrets, when it came down to it. He definitely didn’t want to die, but he knew all his friends would be fine without him. He did wish he would’ve talked to his mother again, but it was too late for that. Jude marveled as the blow landed, and knocked all of the wind out of his lungs.
Arte watched in horror, as Jude was blasted off into the distance. She started to call out to him, but Takeo landed right in front of her. She swore, and threw up a square plane, about the size of a door, between them. Takeo tried to duck around it, but she kept it between them.
He glanced off to the side, and jumped back, narrowly avoiding a red disc that soared through the space his head had occupied a moment ago. Takeo turned his attention towards Vanessa, and leapt towards her. Vanessa threw a large disc between them, but it looked like Takeo was going to try to blast through it.
At the last second, Arte shot a laser, and clipped Takeo’s ankle. He swore, as his balance was thrown off, and he slammed into the disc. He slid off and landed in a heap on the ground. He began to get to his feet, when he was hit with a dart.
His flames flared up for a moment, and immolated the dart. He tried to get to his feet, but when he put weight on the ankle Arte had clipped, he crumpled back to the ground.
Arte cautiously advanced, when she saw Vanessa level a disc to his throat.
“A samurai fights to the death.” Takeo groaned, as he sat up. He leaned his throat against Vanessa’s disc. “Grant me an honorable end.”
“Keep it there, Vanessa, but don’t kill him. The tranquilizer will take effect any minute now.” Darryl came out from cover.
“Why shouldn’t we, Darryl?” Vanessa kept her eyes trained on Takeo. “After all, he’s dangerous, and he’s killed people.”
“Vanessa, this was the plan we agreed to! He deserves a second chance. He can be better.”
Arte felt a little conflicted. This was the asshole who had kidnapped and tortured Ashley, along with who knows how many other people, and it would’ve been one thing if he died while fighting… But this? “I feel like executing him is definitely not the right move.”
“What’s the difference? A death is a death.” Vanessa replied. “How can you say for sure he will be better, and that he won’t hurt anyone else?”
“Vanessa, I will take personal responsibility for him.” Darryl came forwards, and placed his hand on Vanessa’s shoulder. She turned to him, as he spoke. “You said you trusted me, does that still hold true?”
Vanessa sighed. “Fine, but you’d better not screw up.”
“You disgust me.” Takeo spat, slurring his words, before bursting into flames bigger than they had seen before.
Vanessa and Darryl jumped back, as Takeo began to stumble forwards. He started to say something else, but Arte spotted something out of the corner of her eye. Mr. Rodriguez stepped up to the edge of the prison roof, behind Takeo, wound up, and threw something at him. It nailed him in the back, and his flames immediately went out. He stumbled forwards again, but fell to the ground. A rain of white powder then fell onto him. He moved a little, but eventually stopped.
Arte looked up, and saw Paul, Zoey, Mr. Smith and Mr. Rodriguez all standing on the roof. She chuckled. She knew he had something up his sleeve, but didn’t imagine he would’ve put himself about as close to dance as the people he bossed around.
Arte’s heart sank, as she remembered what happened to Jude. She threw up a ramp onto the roof, and ran up. She scanned the roof, and her heart nearly stopped, as she saw Jude walking towards them. She ran over to him, and as she got closer, she saw he was unburnt. Not even his uniform was burnt.
“Holy shit!” She said, meeting him with a hug. “How are you not dead?”
“Yeah, no clue.” He reciprocated the hug, then broke away. “It’s like when I got punched into the cabinet by Deven. I was lightly bruised, but no real damage.” He shook his head. “I guess I didn’t really get hit all that much until now…”
“We can worry about that later. Let’s get back down to the group.” She ran down the ramp she’d made with Zoey, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Rodriguez behind her, and Jude hovered down beside her with Paul in his arms.
Once everyone got over the shock of Jude being alive, he turned his attention to Takeo.
“Is he alive?” He stared at the pile of salt, but kept his distance.
“Yeah.” Vanessa nodded. “We took him down and hit him with a dart, but then we declared victory a little too early.” She turned to Paul. “Thanks for the save.”
“Well, Zoey and Mr. Rodriguez were the ones who really did the work, so you should probably thank them.”
Vanessa turned to Zoey and smiled. “Thanks for the save, kid.” She thought for a second, and turned back to Paul. “Why did you bring a kid with you?”
Jude stepped in. “That’s a long story, I’m sure we can hear all about it, once we wrap this up.”
Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Smith came up behind Jude. “Let me and Mr. Smith handle things here. The boy will need some bandaging. I don’t want you kids to have to deal with that.”
“Alright, that works.” Jude nodded, and turned to the rest of the group. “Everyone else, let’s get back to the helicopter. Let’s go home.”
Darryl stood by the helicopter, in a circle with the guards he had come in with. They had all made it out fine.
“Alright. I intend to help to gather up all of the prisoners. Some of them are dangerous, and I’ve just set them loose on the world. I intend to stop them from doing harm, and help rehabilitate them. Any of you who are done with this, and wish to go home, I understand. Get on the helicopter, and go home. Any who wish to stay with me, I’d love to have you.”
“I may just be speaking for myself, here.” Marques stepped up to Darryl. “But there’s no way in hell I’d hang you out to dry like that. I think everyone here agrees.”
All of the guards cheered, and nodded in agreement.
“Alright, then. I’m glad to have you.” He smiled. He turned around to see Jude and Ashley standing behind him. “I appreciate all of your help. We have it from here.”
“No problem. Thanks for helping out Vanessa and Ashley.” Jude smiled.
“Please, I deserve no thanks.” Darryl nodded and turned to Vanessa and Ashley. “Thank you for all of your help. Watch each others backs.”
Ashley nodded, then ran in for a hug. “I’ll miss you Darryl. Thank you.”
Darryl hugged her for a moment, then clapped her back. “Goodbye, Ashley. Go home.”
Vanessa shook his hand, and smiled. “Thanks Darryl.”
“No, thank you. Now, go home.” He smiled and watched as the pair loaded onto the helicopter. He turned and saw Jude was still next to him.
Jude handed him a business card. “This is Mr. Smith’s, but I’m sure he’ll be able to get us in touch.”
“Very good, I will establish a line of contact. I hope to work with you again some day.” Darryl nodded. “I will tell the men still in the yard to move along before they’re left.”
“I hope to work with you again too.” He nodded, and went off to the helicopter.
⇐ Previous Part —————————– Epilogue ⇒
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Happy New Years! This is the last part of Trials! It’s been a wonderful journey. Thanks for reading!
If you’re curious about what’s coming next, check out this post for more info.
Remember, love one another, Black Lives Matter, and trans people are valid.