Chapter 12 - Surprise Events

"Let's try this again. Where's Reaper and the rest of the Datamite Agents that came to Nexel?" Stormcloud asked, pacing back and forth in the room with his arms behind his back and a calm, yet impatient, demeanor about him.

Jax spit out blood onto the ground and smiled, teeth missing from his mouth and blood stained onto the remaining teeth. His arms were chained and pulled out wide and his feet were chained to a ventilation panel in the floor, preventing him from breaking free. "I don't know what you're talking about. Keep asking the same question and I'll keep giving you the same answer - Kiss. My. Ass."

Stormcloud looked at one of his four guards and nodded, signaling the Jhaxi soldier to walk over to Jax and punch him in the face again, blood flying from Jax's mouth. The Jhaxi punched Jax three more times before Stormcloud signaled for him to stop.

"You mistake me for some kind of fool," Stormcloud said as he walked over to Jax and stared him in the eyes, though one of Jax's eyes were swollen shut. "Brianne isn't dumb enough to go on a solo mission to a potential enemy-invaded planet. She obviously came with others and they weren't with you and your misfits, which means they're somewhere else causing trouble. Do you really want to risk your life, the lives of your real friends, for a group of strangers that you just met?"

Jax stayed silent, blood dripping from his face onto the floor.

Stormcloud scoffed and began walking away. "You know, I admire your strength. I just hope our dear, sweet Luna can resist my charm like you can."

"Don't you dare touch her!" Jax screamed out, wincing in pain from the cracked ribs he received from the Jhaxi brutes. Stormcloud turned around and winked at Jax, then left the room with the guards staying behind. Helpless and hopeless, Jax sunk his head down and clinched his teeth in anger at the thought of his friends suffering the same torture, especially Luna who the lifeline of the group.

Twenty minutes and zero action later, one of the guards screams out in pain and catches the attention of the other three guards, who soon notice that their comrade has a sword pierced through his chest. The mysterious attacker vanishes before their eyes, before reappearing next to another guard and slicing her head completely off from her body and sending it rolling towards Jax. He manages to open his good eye and noticed a severed head on the ground, and slowly looks up to witness Reaper dismember the remaining two guards.

"Man, they really worked you over in here," Reaper stated as he slashed through the chains that held Jax's arms apart so he could freely move them. Losing feeling in most of his body, Jax's limp-body fell forward and hit the ground.

"Oww..." was all Jax could mutter out. He was beaten within an inch of his life and reeled back to consciousness by Stormcloud each time, so his mind and body were stuck in limbo. Reaper helped him up from the ground and propped him up against a wall nearest the door. Then, he removed a syringe from a pocket hidden in his armored hoodie, stabbing the needle in Jax's leg and injecting a mysterious liquid into his bloodstream.

"Come on, kid, your friends need you to be strong right now," Reaper said as he waited for whatever he injected Jax with to do whatever it was designed to do. "This will help ease the pain so you can fight. Your friends are being kept in different rooms just like this one not too far from here, but we have to hurry if we want them to still be alive when we get there."

Only seconds went by before Jax's eyes popped open wide, like something out of a horror movie. In a quick motion, he jumped onto both feet like he was no longer injured.

"What the hell did you inject me with?" Jax asked with confusion in his voice. He was looking at his body, examining the injuries he had. The wounds were completely healed, both of his eyes back to normal, and the pain he once felt ceased to exist. "Was that some kind of instant-health medication or something? You space-people get more confusing by the minute!"

Reaper handed Jax the assault rifle that he had holstered on his back, along with a few extra magazines and equipped with a silencer on the tip, then unsheathed his sword. "Alright kid, it's time to get to work now that you're all better. We don't have a lot of time, and there's no telling what state the others are in right now. I did a little scouting around the place before I scooped you up, there's not that many guards. Our biggest problem will be Stormcloud, so let me handle him."

Jax lowered his head and clinched his teeth, angrily remembering the death of his friend, Brynn. "Stormcloud... That bastard is going to pay for what he's done... You better make sure he's not breathing before we leave this place!"

"Leave? Who said we were leaving?" Reaper said, hiding facial expression from behind his face covering. "Well, they did cover your heads so you couldn't see where you were being led."

"What? How'd you know that?"

"I followed you here," Reaper responded. "What, you thought I found you by luck or something? You lot got lucky, we're in the underground area of the Security Command Station."

Jax looked around the room, seeing the metal crates and the chains that were used to hold him in place for torture. "You mean these idiots brought us right to our target and didn't even know it? We might actually be able to complete the mission."

Reaper nodded and peaked out of the door into the hallway. He held his sword in his right hand and pulled out a pistol, also equipped with a silencer, from his left holster with his left hand, pointing the pistol out of the doorway around the right corner. "It's time to move, but we have to do this quietly. You ready for this?"

Looking at the rifle in his hands, Jax unlocked the safety and kept his right index finger on the trigger. "Let's put an end to these freaks so I can go home."

With Reaper in front and Jax covering the rear, the pair carefully made their way down the hallway towards the other rooms. The area looked like an underground prison, something out of a horror movie like Saw or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Jax felt a chill down his spine as he tried to keep his composure, hoping that his friends didn't suffer the same torture he dealt with.

It felt like an eternity since having to watch his close friend Brynn be murdered right before his eyes. No one was even able to process the event before being taken away to be prisoners, having their heads covered by cloth bags to hide the location they were being taken to. Riley's brother, Luna's friend, Jax's right-hand man. No one was prepared for the power that Stormcloud possessed.

There were guards patrolling the hallway, though Reaper made quick work of them. One pull of the trigger, one bullet, one headshot, then repeat. His accuracy was amazing, unreal even. Jax was barely able to take out a handful guards on his own, that's how swift Reaper moved between putting a bullet in a guard and slicing through another with his blade.

Reaper stopped at the end of the hallway before putting his back along the left wall. "Alright, around this corner is the other three cells. We have to do this carefully, but fast. As soon as everyone's free, head upstairs and look for the server room. I'll finish things down here and give you guys some cover."

Jax nodded and readied his rifle as Reaper moved around the corner first. Right away, Jax made the next move and stopped instantly. The three cells that held Brianne, Luna, and Riley were in clear view, but the path was being blocked. Right in the middle of the hallway stood the menacing Jhaxi elite commando - Stormcloud, sporting his black armored body suit and finger-less gloves, but not the trench coat. There was a sort of metal pipe holstered on his back, like a giant stun baton.

"I could not have predicted this any better," Stormcloud gloated, electricity surging around his body. "Sorry Jax, recess is over. Go to your room and I'll deal with you later."

Jax clinched his teeth and took a step forward, but Reaper put his sword up to block his path. "This fight is mine, you don't stand a chance against his kind of power. I'll clear the way while you go rescue the others." Reaper put the pistol back in its holster and readied his sword with both hands.

Stormcloud forced a creepy grin on his face, then removed the baton from his back. He used his own electricity to power up the stun baton, pumping pure energy into it from his body. In one quick motion, he lunged towards Reaper and swung the baton like a baseball bat. Without even flinching, Reaper positioned his sword upside down to block the baton from smashing into the left side of his body. With the two locking weapons, Jax quickly ran past them towards the holding cells.

"Just like old times, ehh Reaper?" Stormcloud creepily-grinned again. "Only this time, only one of us walks away!"

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Everything around me looked and felt strange and unfamiliar. There was emptiness surrounding me, but also streams of colors moving around me in every direction. I could feel the aura, taste it even, like it was a part of me. It was like I was staring at pure atmospheric energy, which didn't freak me out as much as it should have. I could hear voices but couldn't understand who's they were or where they were coming from.

I walked through the colors like a field of fireflies, colorful energy dancing around me with every step I took. I didn't understand how it worked, but I knew I liked the feeling. Suddenly, my body grew heavy, like gravity had zeroed-in on me and pressed the weight of the entire known universe onto my chest. My body began absorbing all of the energy like a vacuum, like watching an explosion in reverse. It was suffocating, numbing even, and everything grew darker until there was nothing.

After what felt like an eternity, my eyes finally opened and I could see. I was laying on a bed, a pretty comfortable one, in what looked like a room somewhere in the underground Datamite Base. Was all of that a dream, or was it something more? I raised out of bed, my body still heavy and my head slightly spinning, and headed back towards the main chamber room to find my team.

"Well well well, look who's finally awake from his beauty nap," Tray joked as he spotted me walking down the hallway and into the chamber room. "I thought we were gonna have to go do our jobs without you."

"You wish I would let you take the glory for beating these losers," I joked back. Tray smirked and held back a response, though I could tell he had a good comeback lined up. "How long was I out, anyway?"

"Not very long. About an hour, maybe two," Tray replied. "Zari and Faiye are up top scouting the area securing our location, getting a lay of the land and making sure the Jhaxi don't know we're here. Of course, you keeping this place from going boom definitely helped... So, telekinesis huh? How'd you wake those powers of yours up, anyway?"

"Hmm, no idea," I said, looking at my hands in confusion. "I just know I was desperate to stop that blast from killing everyone, and suddenly I was able to. Maybe... a fight-or-flight response?"

"Sure, I guess," Tray shrugged his shoulders and smirked. "Now all you need to do is learn how to control it and you might actually be useful in a fight."

I rolled my eyes and brushed off his comment. "Any word from HQ since I've been out? Or Reaper?"

"No, nothing," he replied. "I trust that our people will be able to handle themselves against the Jhaxi, it's what they were trained for. We just have to do our part, as well."

"Well, our part may be a bit more complicated than anticipated." I turned my head to the sound of Zari's voice as she and Faiye walked in through the entrance. For some reason, it was like I was seeing Zari for the first time all over again. Her caramel eyes caught me in a trance, which Tray noticed as he scoffed and moved to a different side of the room from me. "Captain, big brother, we have a problem."

I didn't like the sound of that. "What kind of problem, exactly?"

Faiye pulled up screenshots that they took of the city. "Check this out - there's a crap ton of guards scattered all throughout the city, mainly traveling in squads of 4 or 5 at a time. They could be Jhaxi soldiers in disguise, or they could be regular Nexel military. There's no sure way of knowing, but there is one thing that's guaranteed."

Zari pointed to a woman in one of the pictures wearing a black and red dress. She was standing near a food vendor truck, similar to the food trucks back on Earth, with 3 soldiers around her. "This woman right here is the Mayor of Ghallia and head of operations around Nexel. Intel shows that her office is stationed on the top floor of the tallest building in Ghallia, a 20-story office building right in the middle of the city. This building seems to have guards all around the perimeter, maybe 10 of them from what we've counted. We don't even know for sure how many are inside the building or on the top floor. Oh, and get this - her name is Scarlet Shields, who just happens to be a very ruthless, and very famous, Jhaxi commando."

Two commandos on Nexel at the same time? I felt my stomach knot up; I can't control my powers yet, how the hell am I going to stand a chance against a commando? I guess I don't have a choice at this point, not if I want my first mission as Captain to be a success.

I pulled up Scarlet's dossier on my gauntlet and looked it over. She's had a lot of run-ins with the Datamites over the years, all of which ended in her favor as she was too powerful to be taken down. She has the power to manifest and control fire, a pretty nasty power to have and not many ways to combat against it. She and this Stormcloud guy have been known to work together a lot, maybe as partners? Her file says she disappeared about four years ago and hasn't been spotted since, which could be when she came to Nexel to establish her position on the planet.

She seems like she could be around the same age as Reaper, maybe they've even had a few run-ins of their own. Nothing in the files suggest it since Reaper kept his work out of Datasphere records, being a lone wolf and all with no official ties to the Datamites anymore. Still, facing this Scarlet chick was going to be tough, and that's if we even manage to sneak inside of the big Ghallian building that was really named "Ghallian Embassy."

I gave the team 15 minutes to gather all of their gear and get situated before we all head back topside together. This mission had been dragging on long enough, for what felt like months. We were all ready to bring it to a close and get back to base, and it was going to end on the top floor of the Ghallian Embassy. I had no idea what we were walking into, and I was even more worried about Brianne and her squad. I just have to trust that Reaper will handle it and that my squad will handle our end.

When we were all ready, we locked up the chamber and headed topside. With the chaos we were about to start up, the Jhaxi were most likely going to use all of their available soldiers to protect their own home base. According to building schematics that Zari pulled up, the underground tunnels led to a service door that accessed the maintenance room directly under the Ghallian Embassy. Once we got in the room, we entered the elevator and Zari used her gauntlet to hack into it for straight access to the top floor. That way, there wouldn't be any stops on any other floor along the way.

19 floors later, we finally reached the 20th floor of the Embassy. Lucky for us, the elevator was all metal and couldn't be seen from anyone outside of it. The elevator doors slid open and I stepped out first into a long hallway with 4 doors spread out on both sides of the room, possibly utility closets, and one large set of double glass doors at the very end.

"Everyone ready?" I asked, cracking my knuckles. "Our big win is on the other sides of those double doors. We have to do whatever it takes to take her down, and with my power it'll be easier to contain her fire."

"I have a few tricks up my sleeve, as well," Tray chimed in.

"Yeah Cap, we're putting the flames out on this bitch!" Faiye exclaimed, punching her chest with her fist to hype us up.

I looked over to Zari and she just gave me a nod and a smile - it's rare that she doesn't have many words, but you gotta love a woman who's about that action. She's the ideal lieutenant to help lead this squad to success. Hell, she'll probably make a better captain that I do anyway.

Without further talk and with everyone hyped up to fight, I led the team down the hallway and to the doors. Taking a deep breath and exhaling, I pulled open the doors and we rushed in. It was a giant, square office. There were six flat-screen televisions mounted on the cream-colored walls around the room, each one displaying different views of the city from security cameras. There were also bookshelves on each side of the room, and a multi-colored circular rug that sat in the middle of the room on top of navy blue-colored carpet. On top of the rug sat a circular glass coffee table, and two dark brown leather couches sat on opposite sides of the table.

On the other side of the room directly in front of where we stood in the doorway, there was a large wooden desk with an open laptop sitting on it, as well as a coffee mug full of random pens and markers and stacks of papers. Leaned against the desk facing us was a woman, tall and pale-skinned, with black hair that extended past her shoulders. Her red-and-black dress formed perfectly around her slim, yet toned, physique. Her hands were angled behind her with her hands on the desk, looking at us curiously.

"So, you must be Scarlett Shields," I said, fists clinched together ready to attack. "You don't look like that big of a threat, so this should be a quick fight."

She grinned as she made direct eye contact with me, her burnt-orange eyes piercing into my soul. "I was expecting my old friend Reaper to be here. I'm not familiar with you four, though I'm guessing you're Datamite agents. You're obviously low in ranking, possibly rookies, since you're dumb enough to approach me head-on. I agree, though, that this fight will be quick. Unfortunately, not in your favor."

I don't know how but the more I looked at her, chills started falling down my entire body. She stood straight up off of her desk and slowly started walking towards us, prompting us to put our guards up. Faiye took out her staff and I put my hands up and prayed that my freshly-awakened power wouldn't fail me now.

Then, in an instant, Scarlett shot off towards us like a cannonball being shot, pushing fire from her hands to propel herself towards us like a ball of fire. Everything behind her - her desk, her personal items, the window that faced the outside - it was all blasted away. She was coming so fast, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to stop her the way I stopped that exploding chamber guardian. Just as fast as Scarlett shot herself towards us, Tray jumped out in front of us and made himself the main target for her attack.

"I got this!" Tray shouted as he put his gauntlet up at the same time that Scarlett cocked her right arm back. Flames engulfed her entire arm, then spiraled up towards her hand like a concentrated shot. Immediately, she pushed her hand out at us as fire shot out like something from a tv show, blasting at us and everything behind us in a powerful force. I closed my eyes and could feel heat all around me, hearing the blast that destroyed everything around us. It was so powerful, terrifying even, and had to be the end of us.