Criticality 12: Enforcers Assemble (Season One Finale)


Enforcer I

Chipshot sat at the end of the conference room table which was closest to the wall that featured a view-screen. An image of the Shokan Dojo was displayed crisply. This same image happened to be on his laptop screen, so the fact that his back was turned to the slideshow did not bother him much at all.

The conference room was sizable and capable of accommodating twenty people, comfortably. But at least for now, it appeared as if MC and Cindra Rondy were the only two who were invited to this meeting. Punctuality was never much of an issue for any of the Enforcers because professionalism was the rule, and there were no exceptions. They would have seen any other members along the way or directly outside in the hallway or inside of the room getting settled themselves.


“I will never get over how big this place is,” MC mentioned as he took the chair which was closest to Chipshot’s right at the end of the table.

“Is it just us this evening?” Cindra inquired while sitting down in the chair which was directly on Chipshot’s left.

“Yeah,” Chipshot was focused on something else when he addressed them, “E-Man, Neckbone, Python, and Recoil all have the night off. Autopsy and Karyn Jacob are at their normal nine to five stations. G-Pile will understandably not be addressing us this evening with the covertness of our mission being in a clear conflict of interest to his post. And, it looks like, according to what I’ve got pulled up here: Acro and Acra Lin have already moved into position.”

MC reached beneath his seat to adjust the levers and, in turn, the comfort of his chair before swiveling into position so he could assert, “That’s fine with me. I’m sure that whatever it is, we can handle it.”

Cindra concurred, “Yeah, you’ve got me after all. My contribution along with that of the number two and number three Enforcers should hopefully be enough to suffice. If it’s not, I’d imagine that our unit has slightly bigger problems.”

With a smile, Chipshot turned away from the hypnotic familiarity of his laptop in order to address Cindra, “Don’t joke about this. If anything were to happen to you, Briar 1 would have my head.”

“And nothing will,” Cindra assured while paying a well-placed compliment, “because you’re a very capable leader.”

“I don’t know about that,” Chipshot disagreed as he could know longer hold Cindra’s eye contact in the acceptance of such praise. Skipping over the top of MC’s head, the wall now retained his gaze as he dwelled on a sticking point which they had each been over time and time again in the past, “It’s unbelievable. How could Acro turn down the leadership of the Enforcers. Both groups – Earth and Second Earth are the result of his vision. He’s a legend yet declined the head position of each group.”

“You need to get it together, buddy,” MC suggested. “Get your head back in this. What’s done is done, and you are in charge of Second Earth’s Enforcers – with Acro’s blessing I might add. There’s not a single one of us who would debate or question that decision, so why do you continue to?”

With a shrug, Chipshot admitted, “My head is in it. I just don’t want it getting too big.”

Laughing, MC replied, “Why should it? You cross Acro, and I’m almost positive that he’ll cut you down. Look, we’re all role-players here. Briar 1 is in charge on Earth, and you’re in charge on Second Earth for the same reason that I have the number three slot – should anything happen to either of you two.

It’s the same reason as to why Acro continues to supplicate himself to G-Pile. He can’t run the entire show, and our job as role-players is to take some of that heat off of him. For a person to have fought this war as long as he has, it’s only natural to ask for some help. It’s also our obligation to provide this help in the best way that we know how. If it means that you’ve gotta be in charge, then you need to take charge.”

“Fu–, this is like a broken record,” Chipshot said. “I know.”

And if Chipshot did not know, Cindra reiterated, “Acro’s got a lot bigger picture to worry about, and that shouldn’t include us as well.”

Talking would no longer suffice in causing Billy to see reason and cooperate, so Sanjuana pushed off of the ground and into a spinning left jump kick which he decided might better the chances of getting his point across. He aimed to strike his foot across the Djibouti Clan student’s head – at the left ear as that would knock some sense into while also knocking the arrogance out of his opponent.

In a display of raw power, Billy shirked underneath the blow and threw up a right arm for the purposes of catching the attack. With Sanjuana’s leg hooked successfully by his right arm, he used the subtle force of a simple muscle flex to fling the Shokan backward.

Into the air, off of Sanjuana’s feet, and back four yards rather. He came down crashing onto his back at the same time as the reality of Billy’s unmasked abilities came crashing down upon his psyche. The strength was unbelievable but not unexpected seeing as though the opponent who he faced was the son of his Master Glove. Stifling the moment of impact with the ground in order to readjust the landing by causing his equilibrium to flip him over as a part of a forced backward roll, he managed to plant his feet in the soil during the recovery but managed to skid helplessly out of position and tumble over himself.

There happened to be some attacks which were meant to simply be succumbed to because any fit of resistance would only have made them that much worse. Billy knew this all too well as he walked calmly over to Sanjuana’s punished body. The tournament had forced him to have to hold back, but the competition was over, and this execution would go down as self-defense. He stalked his prey with that in mind. In fact, it was the only thing on the Djibouti Clan student’s mind – a rage of unforeseen angst for his own life and life’s situation was about to be taken out on this opponent.

An unworthy opponent. Billy reached down deep psychologically to figure out where all of this pent up anger stemmed from. To kill Sanjuana was to accept the reigns of leadership and the mantle of succession within the Shokan. To spare Sanjuana was to be perpetually hunted. Acro had prepared him for all of this, and his family made sure to be upfront with him about everything, but the sanity of the situation was missing. He hated this. He hated everything – constantly being on edge. He was well past the point of no return in being graced with or granted the privilege of a normal childhood. But that was all stolen from him. It was stolen by a cruel family lineage on one hand who he wanted no part of. And it was also stolen by the group who he now currently held his allegiance for which they had plopped him in the middle of their fight – this sadness.

Sadness, not madness. Billy was quite sane, but not even his love life was exempt from the chaos. The discombobulation which happened to be his life was finally coming to a head. He was grateful to Acro for the sacrifices in this war and grateful to his surrogate family for giving him some semblance of a decent life. He was even grateful to Glove, in a sense, for having him – giving him life. But, it was looking more and more like (at the conclusion of this fight) it would be time for him to take his leave from all of the factions and find out who it was that he really wanted to be.

Sanjuana was not going to make this transition easy however. There was no way that he could match strength with Billy, and his fate was bleak, but he could still leverage a favorable outcome. Concealed beneath his clothing was a hand laser and the one opportunity to either defeat the Djibouti Clan student and garner reinstatement within the highest echelon and ranks of the Shokan or meet his demise in a move which would ultimately force his opponent’s hand toward that of his Master Glove – a victory either way and in any event, a no-lose proposition.

Unfortunately, the underhanded attempt was about as telegraphed from Sanjuana’s fatiguing desperation as could have been believed.

“You think that after I was able to hurl however many hundreds of pounds you are into the air with my right arm alone that a gun is going to be able to stop me?” Billy asked in astonishment before bearing down on Sanjuana, twisting that right gun arm behind his opponent’s back before hyperextending it past the point where the hand laser could be held onto because of the threshold of pain. But the Djibouti Clan student did not stop there and dislocated the Shokan’s shoulder by somehow making the hand that was within his grasp reach up and over the back of his opponent before it settled painfully around the enemy’s jaw.

Sanjuana’s scream was bloodcurdling. For as focused or as trained or as resolute as he was in his purpose, it was clear that Billy’s opponent happened to be afraid of death. Now this was not the bleached away response of one of the converted Shokan who had no emotions outside of those which were given to them by their New Alliance masters. This was a Human reaction to the severity of the pain and the fear of the following unknown which the Djibouti Clan student was inflicting.

Billy needed to get his emotions in check. The rage was seething through his viciousness, and this was a part of him who he did not like – a part which he would not have respected coming from the likes of his biological father, Glove. And there the Djibouti Clan student was – doing the same things. It was in his blood. Ultimately, this was who he was, and to kill Sanjuana would be to fully accept that birthright. The only thing though was that now was not the time to leave one faction in favor of another.

When Sanjuana’s body dropped from Billy’s virulent clutches, the Shokan’s life was officially spared, and the former Djibouti Clan student did so in favor of his new free agency. Since this was all occurring just outside of the Second Earth Special Police Force Base, somebody would happen by in due order to see to his former opponent. He sighed knowing that using somebody’s own dislocated arm and hand to aid in the snapping of their own neck was an amazing maneuver which would not have the chance to be executed here. This one would need to be saved for a more worthy opponent.

Clearing the thought from his mind and returning to some semblance of calm, Billy turned away from Sanjuana and stared solemnly at the ground. Another of life’s unforgiving phases had begun, and his decision managed to rebuke one faction and shun another – both of which would have given him any bit of hope that they could in allowing him to not have to venture into this new phase alone.

“Kill me!” Sanjuana demanded from his unsightly crumple on the ground.

The other part of Billy’s turning around was that he could not stand the sight of his handiwork. His reply, “You don’t mean that.”

In a badly fated attempt at trying to right his posture in the direction of the person who he was shouting at, Sanjuana failed miserably and went into a convulsive shock while he addressed a matter which had blinded his eyes, his heart, and his beliefs, “Do this for your father!”

“Fu–,” Billy muttered as he shook his head in the negative.

“No, Sanjuana’s wrong,” Sylvia interjected as she approached from behind the wounded Shokan. Her trajectory had placed this path directly in accordance of the Second Earth Special Police Force Base’s motor pool which she walked over from.

Turning to face Sylvia, Billy had tears in his eyes, “Why are they doing this to me? I love you Sylvia!”

Sylvia smiled, “Do you think that because I was converted that I don’t still love you as well? It doesn’t work that way. My love for you is unconditional, but is yours unconditional for me?”

“What are you saying?” Billy pleaded.

“I know that you’re conflicted,” Sylvia said. “I can tell that you’re confused, so I’m going to make this really easy on you. Come with me. Don’t do this for your father, and I’m not even asking you to do this for me. Do it for your mother.”

It was at this moment that the Shokan, the New Alliance, and whoever else could fill in his biggest blank had him. Billy’s mouth was agape as with all of his skill in fight acuity, he found that words became a brutal chore to speak, “What? My…mother?”

Enforcer I

“So uh,” MC prodded, “why do we have a picture of the Shokan Dojo up on the view-screen?”

All that Chipshot could do was laugh.

“No freaking way,” Cindra was as startled as her utterance. “You, me, MC, Acro, and Acra Lin are taking that place out?”

“We have our orders,” Chipshot announced, “and now you do too.”

None of them seemed to be all that concerned about the forthcoming prospects, and MC cemented the vision of their confidence by making small talk, “You know what always gets me though?”

Cindra asked inquisitively, “What’s that?”

“The fact that we always go into these things without any sort of masks or hoods on our faces,” MC admitted, “it’s just weird.”

Putting things in perspective, Chipshot explained, “Well, whenever we’re sent in, it’s not about taking any prisoners or leaving any witnesses – no reason to cover our faces at that point.”

“How can we make this mission successful?” Cindra thought back a moment, briefly, before continuing, “You had mentioned that Acro and Acra Lin were already in position.”

“The place is more of a compound than a dojo,” Chipshot conceded. “And on top of that, there’s a shield in place which is going to prevent any sort of overhead bombardment from our fighters. Acro and Acra Lin are getting set to take the shield out so that we can storm the place and take the Shokan out.

See these three towers? Each of those will be an objective. With the shield gone, MC, you can take out the one on the right from above. Cindra and I will converge on the ground with Acro and Acra Lin to handle the left and the center ones. As you can tell, this is toward the end of the Shokan Dojo which means that we have to fight are way through the complex in order to get there. In-between the complex and those towers are the wide open spaces of the sparring floors. We’ll be sitting ducks for any number of attacks that the Shokan can hope to launch at us. It’ll be formidable, and we need to remember that they possess Space Force weaponry.”

This tidbit of information caught MC’s ear, so he questioned, “Space Force weaponry? How’d they get their hands on that?”

With a shrug, Chipshot stated, “Ours is not to question but to punish and give the Second Earth Special Police Force an assist. They were about to be in for a universe of hurt.”

The fact that the Enforcers were above the law but also ran well beneath it had always intrigued Cindra, so she spoke on this, “It wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve helped them out, but I just hope that our covertness doesn’t come back to bite us on the as- which the Space Force doesn’t even know exists.”

Staines Warehouse District

The Mustang pulled up and stopped directly outside of the largest facility which also happened to be the hardest hit. Pete was the first to exit, and he waited impatiently for Julian to put the car’s top up.

“What?” Julian remarked.

“This place has been cleaned out,” Pete let what he felt was a past indiscretion go in order to focus on the investigative task at hand. “No trucks, no product, and no bodies.”

Julian led the way over toward one of the walls to a boarded up warehouse. He said, “The hit was not only professional but so was the recovery. We’re not going to learn anything that the attackers didn’t want us to know or the owner, Stanislaw Krell, won’t allow us to know – quiet as a peep.”

It was doubtful that Pete and Julian could enter to do any further snooping around because this was private territory and a formal police report had not yet been filed. Their response to shots having been fired was sufficient enough cause for them to be able to step foot on these grounds, but observation would be about the only piece of evidence which they could take away from here.

Pete pointed toward the walls and asked a question which he already knew the answer to, “What do you make of these char marks?”

“That’s Police Force Academy deduction. Any cadet would know that those marks are the residual signature of a Space Force Standard Issue Pulse Laser Rifle on rapid, maximum blast. Now a question for you to test the academics of obviousness. If this entire warehouse district was professionally cleaned – scrubbed of evidence, why would char marks still be left behind?”

“Krell wants us to start implicating people in hopes of it doing his dirty work for him,” Pete answered. “As much as I don’t like being a corporation’s bitc-, we still have a job to do. Believe me, we’ll settle up later.”

A quick tug at the chains on the doors from Julian also elicited an audible yearn of, “I wish we could get inside to see whatever there is to see.”

Taking this moment, outside of Julian’s car, Pete chose to light up a cigarette in order to focus his thoughts like the flame which ate away at the cancer stick after each drag. He deduced, “We’ve been given everything that we need to see. It’s what we’re not quite able to see in this vision which is the stumbling block.”

“Well, whose got access to Space Force weaponry outside of…the Space Force?” Julian inquired.

“Mainly their business partners,” Pete listed, “like Death Corps on Earth and Ennead Tech Corp here on Second Earth, but outside of Ennead’s staffing needs on Planet Exile, they’ve had no use for weaponry. In fact, the Space Force has started to phase out the older hand lasers and laser rifles in favor of the LUNC’s.”

Adding to that, Julian mentioned, “You just don’t phase your armaments out though. If that was possible, non-proliferation agreements would not be such a big deal. All of this takes documentation to ensure that the weapons which you are disposing of do not -”

Finishing the thought, Pete completed, “- fall into the wrong hands. Who’s responsible for the disposal?”

“Let me get a manifest,” Julian said while fingering his Ear-To-Mouth Com. “Sec, yeah, it’s me, Julian. I can hold.”

“For once,” Pete admitted while dropping the cigarette butt to the ground where it would meet the remainder of its fate beneath his crushing shoe, “I’m glad that we have access to a portion of the Space Force’s database.”

Nodding his agreement, Julian added, “Let’s just hope that we have access to this information which I’m about to request. Yeah, Sec, can you please pull up anything from the Space Force database concerning hand laser and laser rifle disposal? I’m wondering if that is a part of the public record. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be. Take your time.”

Having seen as much as was visually allowed, Pete and Julian made their way back to the Mustang where the top was again let down. They decided to drive off and not linger around in the futility of a cover-up which needed to be unwrapped from multiple different directions at once – not something that they were going to be able to do by standing around Staines Warehouse District worrying about it.

“You don’t say,” Julian spoke sarcastically.

Looking over, Pete saw Julian smiling and prodded, “What is it? Patch me in.”

The conversation would not last too much longer after Sec had done his due diligence to get Julian pointed in the right direction, so he declined, “It’s not necessary. Your buddies at Ennead Tech Corp were over the disposal activities.”

“My buddies?” Pete smiled. “It’s not surprising though. Can Sec get us a name of anybody who might have been in charge of the project?”

“That’s a great place to start,” Julian agreed. “Hey Sec, could you also please throw out some names of the heads of the disposal effort? Let’s see if anything or anybody rings a bell. Wait, repeat that last name.”

It was at this moment that Pete was licking his chops, “Oh, this is gonna be good.”

After receiving the auditory confirmation from Sec, Julian pulled the Mustang off to the side of the road in order to relay the information to Pete, “Does the name Palatine sound at all familiar?”

“As in Palatine Triad?” Pete hoped.

“Sec is saying that, apparently, Lil Tiny has an older brother by the name of Needo,” Julian explained. “He’s big time, and happens to be not just over this project but Planet Exile as well. Yeah, could you please run any sort of records which we have on him?”

With a sigh, Pete reasoned, “I doubt that Sec’ll find anything. It’s not a crime to hire the family of an organized crime member – especially if Needo is as qualified for these positions as he seems. Stalkord doesn’t deal in cronies. I would have gotten him by now if he did. None of this will hold up, but it’s enough to ask some questions.”

As if Julian did not know, he decided to ask anyway, “To Ennead Tower?”

“To Ennead Tower,” Pete confirmed while he continued to beam from ear to ear at the thought of the presented possibilities.

Ennead Tower

For anybody to be sitting in on Stalkord’s investor call, they would have received a sharp feed of his presence in front of a hearty desk where he delivered his address. Although the teleprompter was on and synced up with the slides, this speech had all but been memorized because the Chief Executive Officer of Ennead Tech Corp was very much hands-on and especially in the know regarding the company’s happenings. He lived on the ground level, and he worked from the trenches. He ate with the masses, and he knew their families. He had twice built a culture based upon familiarity and respect – once with Death Corps, and now, again, he had not learned from his past mistakes the first time around.

There was simply too much exposure for a person of Stalkord’s stature. No matter how careful he had been. No matter how precisely his moves were executed. No matter how he played by the rules or those of how the game was being called in the paint at present.

Pete and Julian just would not leave him be, and it was starting to get to the point of where Stalkord needed to quit playing nicely with them – or quit playing around in general and back the Second Earth Special Police Force down in much the same manner as if he was fending off an upstart which was voraciously hungry to compete but in the midst of biting off more than it could chew. A lot of work – tireless work had gone into positioning the Chief Executive Officer of Ennead Tech Corp favorably over the years for the culmination of plans which were so secretive that they were not even allowed to cross his own mind for the fear of those very same thoughts betraying him.

From Death Corps to Ennead Tech Corp to beyond, Stalkord had always been one step ahead of competition and two steps ahead of the market, but Pete and Julian were neither of those. They were not even in the right ballpark, and these continued distractions only made him chuckle at times if not for the other times in which their antics seriously pissed him off. And now was one of those other times.

“Our charitable donations have been geared toward creating more of a self-sufficiency than a handout, but that has as much to do with my visions on philanthropy as it does with my desire to find some excellent, untapped, and moldable talent which might eventually become receptive to the idea of working for Ennead Tech Corp in the future. Competition for qualified workers has become fierce, so this does not mean that our development efforts can become anything less than the same.

How I long for the days of when a warm body would do to fill the seats throughout our satellite offices, but I also recognize that this type of hiring culture also left much to be desired as far as respect for the coworkers as individuals was concerned. Companies need to be able to strike a balance, and I believe that it is this continued effort at outdoing our coworker outreach methods which has netted us favorable financial results.

We have grown to the point where we can honestly say that the Space Force is no longer our largest business partner. Now, nondisclosure agreements dictate my silence on who actually is Ennead Tech Corp’s largest business partner, but the fact sheets, tables, and numbers associated with the bottom line – which has just been electronically transmitted to you do not lie. At this level, diversification is critical in order to not allow any one business partner to become too significant a contributor to the profit and loss statements. That is corporate suicide and clearly unavoidable with a little bit of due diligence. And none of this speaks badly of any past, current, or future relationships because they can be both fruitful and realistic,” Stalkord spoke as eloquently as he was passionate about his business dealings.

To see the faces on the spectators who were patched into the feed at this very moment would have been to behold a collective wonderment of awe. Because of the camera angle, nobody could make out the other voices off of anything other than familiarity or match those voices to faces.

“Sir! Stop! Please.”

“This is official Police Force business, so I would advise you to not catch an obstruction of justice charge,” Julian suggested.

All that Stalkord could say as he stood up was, “Unbelievable.”

Making an aggressive motion to get behind Stalkord, Pete stated, “We finally got you.”

“Those won’t be,” Stalkord paused as Pete slammed his face into the desktop before gritting his teeth to say, “necessary.”

Fusion cuffs were particularly effective because the device was a predicament bondage of the prisoner’s own making. The size and shape of a AA battery, the cuffs were activated by pressing the solitary button in the center so that a nanite beam would literally fuse with the bones of a prisoner’s wrists to hold them effectively in place. An ironic technology, the nanite beam would only expend energy if the prisoner were to resist the bonds. If there was no resistance, the beam remained dormant enough to simply hold the device in place.

Stalkord offered no resistance as he was hauled up from the desk with his wrists fusion cuffed behind his back and led away, “You two really need to learn who your true adversaries actually are.”

“Yeah, well,” Pete dismissed the notion, “why not educate us down at the Police Force Base.”

The investor video conference feed hung eerily on the visual of Stalkord’s vacant desk before going completely blank. No explanation was offered, and none was given.

Enforcer I

Chipshot, MC, and Cindra walked down a corridor to the docking bay – which upon entering it, the hanger displayed that it housed merely a sparse contingent of Class V Fighters and Space force shuttles but was capable of holding a lot more with its step level design. All three were already dressed in their combat gear, so the only thing left for them to do was locate their respective ships and await the signal from Acro and Acra Lin so that they could get on their way.

“I am liking this LUNC though,” MC admitted while holding the handgun out a ways as if to allow him to feel the weight and check the accuracy of the laser targeting beam at a distance. “It’s so lightweight but so deadly.”

“I’m just glad that you got rid of the heavy machinery,” Cindra countered. “It was embarrassing.”

Jokingly, MC pleaded, “But you’ve gotta have stopping power. Our enemies, in the case that you haven’t noticed, are vicious. When I pull that trigger pad, I don’t want to have any doubt that the target is going to stay down after I let up on the firing.”

Shaking her head in disbelief, Cindra actually agreed with one piece, “I agree that our enemies are not run of the mill,” before shooting down the other, “but just because you have the right to bear arms does not mean that you need to carry freaking warheads on your shoulders!”

“You just don’t understand the power of what guns provide,” MC said before placing his LUNC in its hip holster.

“I understand that your need for obsessively large and powerful guns may speak to deficiencies in other areas,” Cindra sniped. “How’s your love life?”

With a smile, MC responded, “Fu–,” and paused for emphasis before completing the statement, “you.”

Cindra could not help herself, “See that’s what I’m saying. That’s the problem. Just remember, it’s the motion in the ocean or the tongue on the -”

“Quit,” Chipshot chided as he had mostly tried to stay out of a conversation which had deteriorated rapidly. His step ladder to the Class V Fighter which was allotted to him awaited, so he boarded posthaste.

Shokan Dojo

Conversely, Acro and Acra Lin lay with their bellies to the ground out some distance from their fighters – having already disembarked. Whether the Shokan were expecting them or not, things were extremely quiet, and a mode of stealth added to the silence.

Sharing a pair of high-powered binoculars between them, Acro passed the equipment back to Acra Lin when he finished checking out the night vision view of the periphery. She saw the same things as he saw, so words did not need to be uttered. Rushing the Shokan Dojo was going to be a challenge – one in which they were all but being invited to undertake. The mission objectives were simple: Kill everybody between them and the shield, take the shield out, kill everybody between them and the crystal cage, destroy the crystal cage, kill everybody between them and Glove, kill Glove. There was nothing further to talk about.

So at the conclusion of Acra Lin putting away her binoculars and Acro tightening his flowing Crimson Red Belt around his head, the mission continued.

Acra Lin exploded inside of a corridor and immediately found herself surrounded by a flock of Shokan. She pulled one knife from each of her boots and connected the handle ends. Pressing a button on both extended the blades of the knives into short swords.

Wielding the weapon like a bow staff, Acra Lin guided her left hand outward to cause that respective blade to beat back a Shokan sword swipe which was meant for her chest. After evading the brunt of the blow, she already had the enemy cinched in a radius of death, so an uppercut from her right arm holding that other blade sliced the out of position foe from stomach all the way up through the chest, throat, and chin.

Once the Shokan was dispatched, Acra Lin twirled around with the fatal points of the sword staff exposed and slashing. As two more fell before her efforts, she used a baton twirl from her right wrist to wipe out a couple of others who had sought to gain advantage by sneaking up behind to attack.

The fluidity of the move concluded with the sword staff resting nestled up underneath Acra Lin’s right armpit as she angled the protruding end of it from side to side in an open invitation to any further Shokan who might have decided to run up. And additional numbers decided against that tact in favor of drawing their hand lasers and laser rifles.

A shake of the head in astonishment at the apparent death of the martial arts from one of the most prolific disciplines in all of the universe was the only thing that Acra Lin could emote before needing to snap her sword staff in two to partake in some double short sword action. As far as the Djibouti Clan was concerned, swords still beat guns, and her honor would remain intact unlike these Shokan’s lives.

Enforcer I

The canopy to Chipshot’s fighter began to close as he made the rest of his strike force aware of a conversation which he had just held over his Ear-To-Mouth Com, “Acro reported that he’s about to blow up the shield generator.”

“What does that even mean?” MC cackled.

“It means that we’d better get into position!” Cindra clarified playfully while beginning a vertical takeoff.

But instead of a stationary exit, the docking bay doors opened up to reveal the streaking sky at dusk. The three fighters flew effortlessly out of the enclosed aircraft carrier which was Enforcer I – a kilometer long ship that was often dubbed the Meter Ship for short because that name would have been the only thing about it which was short. A vessel of stealth, the ship ducked back out of sight to perhaps save its punishing armaments for another day while Chipshot, MC, and Cindra went to work – soaring into the airspace above the Shokan Dojo in a bit of a precision maneuver that depended on the actions of another.

Shokan Dojo

A trail of bodies led up to Acro as he stood in front of the crystal cage in the center tower. There had been no sign of Glove which was going to leave one objective unfulfilled, but that would not stop him from providing the signal that the oncoming fighters needed in order to begin their part of the mission.

Acro pulled his LUNC and hurried over to the spaciously wide window slit before nimbly hopping outside of it to plant his feet on the outer wall of the tower with only his left hand securing the weight of his position. The fall would have been steep, but hanging around for the ensuing explosion which he ignited by firing his LUNC into the crystal cage’s control panel would have been so much worse, plus he had plummeted from steeper heights in the past.

With the exploding crystal cage obliterating the middle tower and doing its best to take significant, structural chunks out of the left and right towers, Acro used the force of the devastation as an aid to his springboard when he flung his body off of the outer wall which was now engulfed in flame with the entire architecture coming down and blowing out around him in order to land in a tripod crouch in the center of the main sparring floor. His Crimson Red Belt that served as a headband trailed him all the way like a bike’s streamers and draped softly across his back right shoulder and front left shoulder when he touched down.

The surrounding Shokan might have wanted to attack Acro but that was before his signal had knocked out the Dojo’s shield and that was until Chipshot and Cindra brought their fighters in low enough that they could leap down from their cockpits beside of him on the main sparring floor. Indiscriminately, they laid down cover fire with their LUNC’s spitting continuous streams of laser pulses which punched back, floored, or outright leveled anybody inside of the deadly radius.

Pending the lull in the action, Acro stood up and holstered his LUNC while yanking his head backward in order to fling the Crimson Red Belt out of in front of his face as if it were long hair. Chipshot and Cindra then charged the left tower after seeing that he was alright – their drone fighters had since taken off for safety in evasion of surface to air attacks which originated from the laser rifles of desperate, scrambling Shokan.

Not to be outdone, MC dug in on his fighter’s twin yokes, armed all of his forward firing array of missiles, and sent a devastation the right tower’s way which caused the structure to crumble beneath an implosive storm of dust and rubble – the concussive blast of which blew out the flames from the middle tower. He brought his ship in for another, much lower pass and began to play cleanup with the Shokan on the ground.

Atro City Hospital

Head Doctor Karyn Jacob left Murk’s room and was for the first time upbeat about her patient’s prognosis. He still remained in a coma, but the condition was less about a response to his extensive wounds and more from a recuperative nature. The body Human body was resilient, so it would always put itself in a reset state which paved the way toward a full recovery once certain stabilizing conditions were met.

Now Murk probably could not have heard the door close anyway from his incoherence, but Karyn, nonetheless, chose to close the door gently behind her. It was this extra moment of subtle care which caused her to not catch wind of an additional presence right outside of the heavily guarded intensive care room.

“Is there anything that I can help with?”

It was as if Karyn’s entire universe had appeared.

“Terry?” She turned lovingly to the sight of her man draped in black leather from an accented, mock-collared shirt to the outwardly stiff pants to the nonstandard issue boots to the flowing overcoat.

Terry Terrison swooped in to hug his lady friend, and she did not help but reciprocate by wrapping her arms tightly around him. “I’m back in town, Karyn.”

Offering a long overdue kiss on the lips which she intended to see more of during Terry’s visit, Karyn pushed briefly away from the embrace to say, “I’m liking your knew look.”

“A lot of things have changed,” Terry said with a sigh and a shrug.

“Isn’t that the truth…,” Karyn replied.

The Beginning

  1. Avatar of Carla Rosselini
    Carla Rosselini says

    Hello, Edmund,
    I want to congratulate you on this epic work. I enjoyed every installment, and I hope this is not the last we heard of you, this being the Season One Finale…

    I’m looking forward to read more sci-fi in this style I’ve gotten used to read periodically, on my tablet, before going to sleep 🙂

    All the best,

  2. Avatar of Judy Markova
    Judy Markova says

    I totally agree with Carla.
    Thoroughly enjoyed every episode.
    Of course, I’m a science fiction addict.
    So, how about season two?

  3. Avatar of Edmund Alexander Sims
    Edmund Alexander Sims says

    @Carla: Thank you so much for the kind words! Criticality is from the same literary universe as Angular Trifecta, so there’ll be many more adventures. 🙂

  4. Avatar of Edmund Alexander Sims
    Edmund Alexander Sims says

    @Judy: Thank you – I’m glad Criticality could be a part of your science fiction enjoyment! The second season will be posted here shortly, and a third is being planned.

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