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Chapter Three – The Warrior Minstrel
By Eli J. Litzelman
RoboZon did not sleep. Throughout the night, he prowled the streets. Surprising his enemy, he zeroed in on a single target and dealt with him with a fatal blow. The villain’s comrades attempted to flee into the night, but none of them escaped him.
The hero was crouched on one of the
tall spires shooting up from
At last taking in the full measure of the moment, he decided to call someone who could help identify the villain who had attempted to kill him.
When the ringing finally ended, a man on the other line spoke. “Hello, this is Doctor Phillips.”
“Hey, doc, this is RoboZon. Do you remember me?”
After a pause, the doctor responded, “Why, yes indeed. You were the one who was always too aggressive. Though, not nearly as aggressive as some other types I've dealt with.”
“Yea, anyways, is there anywhere we can meet soon?”
“Just in front of the university. The one in Founder’s Falls of course; that
“When can I meet you there?”
“Oh, right away to be certain. I’ll wait for you; there’s a lovely bench outside.”
“Yes, of course there is. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
RoboZon dropped to the ground and looked around. Students milled around the grounds carrying books or other items. On the far side of the square, an old man with a cane was hunched over in a chair. As he walked toward the professor, RoboZon heard music. Looking about, he saw a bum in rags playing a flute. The man was crouched over the small case in front of him and counting the change while he played.
RoboZon shrugged off the spectacle and continued for the bench. Reaching his destination, he did not sit down but instead called out, “Doctor?”
The doctor suddenly lifted his head and wheeled about. Finally becoming calm again he said, “You startled me son. I was napping. You have to be careful around us old guys; I almost had a heart attack. But forget about that - what was it you wanted to see me about. If there’s anyway I can help, I’ll do my best.”
“Do you know of any Rouges coming in recently?”
“Yes, indeed. Just yesterday it was. Four of ‘em came in a boat of some sort. I can’t remember what kind of boat it was though.”
“Do you have any photos or anything that I can identify them with?”
“Well, of course. You have to understand, I’m in for retirement and all, so you’re lucky I still have them with me.” The old man then consulted his person until he finally pulled a folded piece of paper from his coat. “Here we are.”
Taking the parchment, RoboZon unfolded and examined it. About eight or so pictures with names under every other one were spread about the page. Suddenly pointing at one, RoboZon said, “That’s him!”
“Who?” Reaching into a side pocket, the doctor pulled out a pair of spectacles. “Ah yes, Hidden in Darkness. Very interesting fellow.”
“He snuck into my apartment and attacked me yesterday!”
“Well then, it appears you have some sort of bounty on your head. Not all that odd, really. Heroes who mess around with certain groups often find professionals hunting them. If this be the case, take some advice.” He pointed at a picture labeled “Ninjado” and said, “You better watch out for this one. He is by far the best. If he doesn’t get you, his hordes of Ninjas will.”
RoboZon stared at the image and tried to find some distinguishable feature, but he could not find any. The rice hat was tilted too low and the robe hid any body shapes. Suddenly, a tingling shot up his spine. He knew from experience that something was about to happen and his senses heightened. Barely audible above the clamor, RoboZon heard a whirr and spun around. Guiding his hand with lightning precision, he picked a dart from the air before it could hit him. Hearing another noise behind him, the hero spun back around to see the professor. Blood was dripping from the old man’s lips as he toppled forward.
Standing behind his victim was the bum who had been playing a flute. Though his face could not be seen behind his mask, an evil grin slinked across his face as he revealed that his instrument had sprouted blades on both ends. Looking upon the hero with piercing eyes, he leapt over the bench and dove toward his new adversary.
RoboZon stepped backwards and deflected the first blow. The next strike came faster than a cobra and stabbed him in the solar plexus. Two more follow-ups came and slammed into his chin. His opponent was simply too fast. It was as if Zeus himself was unleashing lightning from the heavens upon the hero.
It was a blur from there. The villain’s onslaught never wavered. The hero tried to give his all to stop his enemy, but was never able to tap into his primal self. Two masters. Two intentions. Two worlds. Two techniques. Two lives. The predator and the prey. The endless struggle. Movement, flow, rhythm, skill, experience, precision; all were present. One’s viciousness. The other’s defiance.
The hero was pushed back. He began to fall. Plunging into cool clear liquid, he sank to the bottom. Then, he rose from the depths with the speed of light. Spinning in a wide arc and lunging forward, he coursed every drip of water from his battered being onto the minstrel. Blinded, the villain staggered backwards as the hero advanced. Flipping over a building, the flute player dove into the shadows. A passing hero flew after the villain as RoboZon followed.
RoboZon rounded the corner and found the hero lying in the alley. Approaching the orange cape, RoboZon noticed the hero’s helmet was smashed in by the temple and blood was dripping slowly out. Going to a knee, the hooded hero checked for a pulse. “Dead,” RoboZon mumbled.
RoboZon stood up and gazed down the brick corridor. His opponent was nowhere to be seen through the lightless passageway.
On a rooftop high above the hero, Ninjado and Banmotsudo watched another fight draw out until its end. “Who was that, Master? Another Rouge?” Banmotsudo whispered.
“No, if he was, RoboZon would be dead. Why he is here, I have no clue. Though I do know one thing: our time is running short.”