hello everyone! Skyfall is ending a little earlier than planned, but the word count is up to my requirement, so here is the last chapter!
I'm so proud to announce the third installment of Resistance, which will not be the last! I'm only halfway done with this fic, and I'm so excited to begin writing #3, which I've titled Shattered Sun. I really hope you enjoy it! It's gonna be amazing!
thanks so much everyone! You're awesome!
until part three...
I stare blankly at the 3D printer as the very last shoulder pad—Tadashi's—slides out. Taking the dark-blue-and-black carbon fiber into my hands, I study it, making sure the configuration is correct. It seems fine, so I place the shoulder pad next to Tadashi's set of armor and step back, surveying my work.
Everyone's armor is the same color as their phoenix tattoo—well, the accents are. The armor is all mostly black, but sharply edged with the color of choice. The only new color I had to use was bright green, for Liv. I gave her the bioink tattoo a few days ago, and Krei cannot stop fawning over how beautiful it—she—is. Those two are turning into something.
Deeming the armor satisfactory, I sink back down into my chair, intending to rest for a little bit. I'm exhausted—I've been working all night.
My eyes close far too fast, and I suddenly find myself carried away into dreams filled with Wasabi-shaped clouds, large explosions, and swarms of microbots. I have really weird dreams sometimes.
I probably sleep for a few hours, but it feels like maybe five minutes before I'm pulled out of dreamland by someone shaking my shoulder.
"Wha's goin' on?" I mumble. "Go away…"
"Hiro, get up! I'm calling another meeting!"
My chair is spun around, and I find myself staring into Megan's face, my nose less than an inch away from hers.
"What?" I yelp.
"Are you done with the armor?" she asks, her face lighting up as she goes to examine it. "It looks awesome!"
"Yeah, I'm done," I mumble, rubbing the back of my neck. "Any other reason you barged in here to wake me up?"
"You've been passed out for, like, twelve hours!" Meg exclaims. "It's three-twenty-seven!"
"In the afternoon?" I ask, tearing a hand through my hair. "Crap! I just wanted to sleep for a few minutes—has anything happened? Is everyone okay? Did I miss something really important?"
"Nah," she reassures me. "I just wanted to call a meeting and figured you'd slept long enough. Everyone's gonna be so excited that the armor is done! Come on, let's go upstairs and show them."
I drag myself out of my chair and scoop up Tadashi's, Callaghan's, and Krei's armor. I suddenly realize that Meg's sling has been taken off as she picks up Honey's, Fred's, Liv's, and Chief Cruz's armor—the girl is way stronger than I am. Hopefully that doesn't reflect too badly on my manliness.
We haul the armor upstairs and set it down in the living room, spreading it out so everyone will be able to easily tell which suits are theirs. Once we're done, Meg comms everyone with her earpiece, saying, "Everyone get in here—the suits are ready!"
A sound remarkably similar to a stampede bursts forth, and I fling myself onto the couch before it reaches the living room. When it does, it becomes clear that the source of most of the stampeding is Fred, who practically falls down the stairs into the room.
"It's ready?" he exclaims. "Show me show me show me!"
The others pour into the room after him, and I begin to pass out the suits. Fred immediately puts his on and starts blasting fire from his hands and mouth, and I have to hurriedly stop him before he burns the living room down.
"This is awesome," Tadashi says happily, stretching out his arm to examine the electricity blasters attached to his arm guard. "You did this so fast, Hiro! I'm impressed."
"Thanks," I mumble, rubbing the back of my neck. "Hope you guys like it."
"Hiro?" Callaghan asks softly, reaching up to his goggles, the top of which are silver with blinking turquoise lights. "What is this?"
I turn to him and smile. "That's my neurocranial transmitter."
"What?" Callaghan whispers. "No, Hiro, I can't use this—what if I hurt someone? We're already recreating Project Silent Sparrow—I'm afraid I'll lose control and hurt people, or worse."
"Well, I trust you not to," I tell him. "I even made you some microbots. And they took hours to print, so use them well."
"I won't let you down," Callaghan vows. "I promise, I won't hurt any of you with these. I'll only use them to defeat the North Koreans."
"What does mine do?" Krei asks, inspecting the bright white phoenix on his breastplate. "Does it shoot fire? Or turn invisible? Or throw some kind of exploding grenades?"
"No, yes, and no," I reply, checking the responses off on my fingers. "They all turn invisible, but yours actually has really cool powers. If you press the button on your arm guard, it calls down a legion of Buddy Guards. You can use them to your heart's content. And if you run out of those, then, well, you can always shoot lasers from your palms."
"That is actually quite impressive, intern," Krei admits. "Uh—Hiro. Yes. Thank you."
Liv laughs quietly, running her hands down her gauntlets. "This really is amazing, Hiro. What does mine do?"
"I've equipped it with tranquilizer darts," I tell her. "You can press the buttons on the gauntlets to shoot them. There's also a few chemical compounds in there that can be shot out through the palms of the gauntlets, which will immediately paralyze any enemy. Don't worry, it's temporary, and it doesn't hurt very much."
"That's amazing," Liv repeats, examining the tiny needles poking out of the fingertips of the gauntlets. "You've done great work on these, Hiro. Once this is all over, I'd love for you to come do an internship at Sycorax."
"Maybe I will," I tell her, smiling. "But I should probably also keep my internship at KreiTech. I don't think Krei could function without me."
"I could!" Krei exclaims indignantly at the same time Liv says, "You're probably right."
Trying to stifle a laugh, I turn to Chief Cruz. "How's yours? Does it fit?"
"Like a glove," he replies. "I'm impressed, Hiro. Are these guns?" he adds, holding up his hand and indicating the little metal fingertips on his gauntlet. "It looks like there's little bullets in the fingers."
"Yep!" I confirm. "And they're graphene bullets! They're a new design I'm trying out—once you shoot them, they basically turn into saws. Each bullet has tiny graphene fins, which expand and start spinning. Maybe not the best thing to shoot at people, but if you ever need to blast a hole in a wall, be my guest."
"Wow," Chief Cruz breathes. "That's incredibly efficient. What do the phoenix buttons do?"
"Oh, yeah!" I gasp, suddenly remembering. "You guys—all the suits have wings and invisibility, for escape mechanisms. Invisibility mode doesn't last forever, so make sure you let the suit recharge every once in a while. You can go invisible by pressing the button on your goggles or helmet—which your earpiece can also be attached to—and you can engage your wings by pressing the button in the middle of the phoenix. It's kind of small, but you should be able to find it. Can everyone go invisible now so I know it works?"
It takes a couple minutes, but everyone finds the buttons and vanishes. As soon as we've made sure it works, I have everyone extend their wings and then light them up. It's an incredible sight, and I allow myself to take it in for a few moments before telling everyone to retract them.
"Looks great, guys," I declare, giving everyone a thumbs-up. "We're gonna make an awesome team. Meg—any other thoughts?"
"Nope!" Megan says cheerfully. "Meeting adjourned! Unless anyone has anything else to say—comments, questions, concerns, hopes, dreams, fears, confessions?"
"Someone has a confession," Honey says sharply, and I turn around to see her glaring, her eyes filled with barely contained fury, at Tadashi.
"I do?" Tadashi asks, sounding genuinely confused.
"Yes," Honey snarls. "Go on, Tadashi. Tell everyone what you did."
"I don't—" Tadashi starts.
"Don't know what I'm talking about?" Honey looks like she's about to cry. "You know what you did, Tadashi. And so do I."
"Well, enlighten me, because I have no idea what's going on!"
Honey's eyes are fiery green, glowering at her boyfriend. "You've been sneaking out to see her."
Tadashi's eyes widen and his jaw drops. He knows exactly who she means.
"Honey, no." His voice is pleading. "It's not like that, we're not...together, I promise—"
"Then what are you doing with her every other night?"
"We're exchanging information—"
"I saw you last night," Honey growls. "You were giving her a lot more than information."
A collective gasp rises from the room. Tadashi looks so hurt and betrayed I don't think it can possibly be true.
"Honey, I didn't." His hands gesture wildly, desperately. "Please, Honey."
She turns sharply away from him, her eyes filling with tears. "We're done, Tadashi. I hope you're happy."
His hand lands on her shoulder, and in a flash of movement, she whirls around and her fist makes contact with his rib cage. Tadashi doubles over, gasping for breath, and Honey runs out of the room with her face buried in her hands.
Tadashi stays on the ground for a moment, struggling to breathe, before he stands up and slowly climbs the stairs to his room. I watch him go, unable to believe that my big brother would do something like this. After a second, I follow him.
"Well, that went spectacularly wrong," I say as I enter the room. Tadashi is sitting on his bed, staring out his window at the cloudy sky.
I flop down on the bed next to him. "You okay?"
"No," Dashi says quietly.
I'm not sure what to say to that. He's never told me he isn't okay before.
"For the record, I know you didn't cheat," I tell him.
Tadashi sighs. "Thanks."
He doesn't say anything for a moment.
"Do you want me to leave you alone?"
The silence serves as his answer.
Tadashi is not on the front step when I arrive. That is to be expected—we are not supposed to meet until tomorrow night, but still. I have come early twice, and he has been waiting for me. Something is not right.
Being the spy and the acrobat I am, I take the logical route and rather than knocking on the door, scale the side of the café and pry open his window.
Tadashi is sitting at a desk with his face in his hands. His head snaps up when he sees the open window.
"Momo!" he hisses, pushing away from the desk. "You're not supposed to be here!"
I pull a lock of hair out of my face. "Hello to you too."
Tadashi sighs. "I'm sorry, Momo. I'm just...it's been a long day."
"I can understand that." My mind is fighting with itself—I need to warn him, but he is clearly upset, and if Echo leaves too early, the others will know they were warned. For now, he must remain blissfully unaware. "Do you want to...get away from it?"
He looks up. I raise an eyebrow.
"Yeah, sure." Tadashi stands up.
Balancing on the window frame, I hold out a hand. He takes it, stepping up onto the desk, and I pull him through the window and onto the ledge. From there, I pull myself up over the window frame and onto the roof.
I look down to see Tadashi waiting on the window ledge. "Aren't you coming?"
He glances up with wide eyes. "I'm not a ninja, Momo."
An unbidden smile tugs at my lips, and I struggle to hide it as I help him onto the roof.
"So." I sit down so my back is to the chimney and my legs dangle over the edge of the roof. "What happened?"
He sighs. "Honey broke up with me."
I do a good job of masking my satisfaction. "And?"
He rubs the back of his neck. "She's seen me sneaking out to meet you. She—she told everyone at the meeting today that I'm cheating on her, and then she punched me in the ribs, and I think she might be right—"
His voice catches. I turn to see him rubbing his eyes. "Are you crying?"
"No," he says, his tone answering for him.
I grab his face and turn it toward me. "Stop it."
"There is no point crying over her. It's not going to help us win the war, and never, never, ever should you cry over a girl who cheated on you. I've seen her with Wasabi in the garage every night, and I promise you, their encounters are nowhere near as innocent as ours."
The expression of sadness on Tadashi's face is quickly replaced with shock. "She...Wasabi?"
"That's right. She's the cheater, she made up this story to end it without admitting all this, and if I see you crying over her again I will slap you."
Tadashi looks at the ground, so far away. "Well, that's comforting in a weird way."
His voice does not sound comforted.
"So..." He sniffs. "She doesn't love me."
He buries his face in his hands, and all I can do is pull him into a hug as he starts to cry.
"Alright, everyone," I begin, holding up my gauntlet. "There are buttons on each of your gauntlets or arm guards, which will, if pressed, immediately shoot whatever you've been equipped with at your enemy. Some of you have two things to shoot from the gauntlets, in which case the button closer to you will activate the mechanism in your palm, while the other will activate the mechanisms in the fingers. Now, everyone take aim at the wall, and…shoot!"
The garage is nearly blasted apart by the host of substances and objects that shoot out of everyone's gauntlets. Lightning bolts, chemicals, lasers, fire—the list goes on. Chief Cruz's graphene bullets soar across the room, their sharp fins spinning, and Callaghan's microbots start to pound a hole in the wall as Liv throws practice darts with stunning accuracy and Megan nearly knocks me out with a well-placed magnet disk. I made her suit almost the same as mine, so we could easily work together, but I think she might accidentally kill me before anyone else.
"That was…awesome," I admit, straightening up and emerging from behind the table, which I leaped behind so no one would accidentally hit me. "You guys are really getting the hang of this! Let's try one more shot, and this time I'll pull out the targets so you can practice on those."
I drag out the screen with targets printed on it, and everyone fires their various weapons at it. After about ten seconds, the screen is riddled with holes, chemical residue, and burns, as well as flames creeping up the edge. I grab a bucket of water by the wall—to be used for this purpose, incidentally—and dump it over the burning screen.
"Excellent," I gasp, setting the bucket down. "Just try a few more times with the targets, and then we can practice stealth training. I really think we'll be able to defeat the North Koreans, you guys! Keep up the good work!"
"Uh—Hiro?" Tadashi says. "I need to go—um—bathroom."
He's a terrible liar—he's even looking at his phone as he says it, as if the real reason he needs to go is on the screen. Nevertheless, I say, "Go ahead," and watch Tadashi run hastily from the room. I wonder what he's doing. It's probably nothing serious—he's been really torn up about Honey breaking up with him, and he keeps dissolving into tears at random moments. It's probably just another episode.
I run through a few more exercises with the team, surprised and pleased at their progress. All of them are much better shots than I'd expect, especially Krei. I didn't think he'd be very good at this, what with him sitting around all day in an office, but I should really learn not to be surprised by him after everything that's happened in Muirahara Woods. Krei is a lot tougher than I thought he was. Then there's Liv—it's still kind of weird to work with her, after the whole episode with her clone and the monsters, but she's proved to be a huge asset to the team and has come up with some really good ideas for biotechnological warfare that I almost want to use, even though it's a war crime. They involve unleashing plagues and releasing some kind of chemical fumes into the air, both of which sound really cool but also really illegal. Still, I'm really impressed by all Liv and Krei have brought to the resistance—I admit I had some doubts at first, but things are really coming together.
After about ten more minutes, I start to wonder where Tadashi is. There's no way he's really in the bathroom—and if he is, I wouldn't think he'd still be crying. Tadashi's a big softie and super emotional, but even he wouldn't sob in the bathroom for this long.
I pull out my phone to text my brother, but at that very moment, he bursts into the garage, nearly flinging the door off its hinges. I yelp and leap away from it, and everyone's heads turn toward Tadashi as he gasps, "Vortex is coming."
"What?" Megan asks sharply, striding over to Tadashi. "Tadashi, what's going on? How do you know?"
"Momo—spies—I'll explain later!" he exclaims. "We've got to get out of here—they're gonna burn down the café!"
"What?" I gasp. "No—are they coming right now?"
"Yes!" Tadashi wails. "We have to get all our weapons, anything we might need! There's no time to lose—seriously, guys, move it! Vortex could be here any minute!"
I don't question Tadashi. I bolt out of the garage and up the stairs into our room, then dart over to the window and look out. Sure enough, there are several dark figures coming down the street.
Snatching up my megabot and shoving Mochi off my bed, I run back downstairs and hurriedly explain, "I'm gonna go try to stop them, or at least slow them down—you guys grab everything we need! Try to take as much as you can!"
"Hiro, wait!" Megan calls, but I'm already off. I pull open the garage door and engage my wings, taking off down the street.
I land (actually rather epically) in front of Vortex, immediately aiming my gauntlet at Karmi, who is in the lead.
"No one moves or I shoot!" I warn, knowing full well that I can't take out all of them. A pang of sadness shoots through my chest as I see GoGo, Wasabi, Granville, and Momokase behind Karmi. I can't believe they've agreed to this terrible plan.
"Empty words, Hamada," Karmi hisses. "Stand aside and I might spare you."
"I can't just let you burn my house down," I snap. "So no, I'm not gonna stand aside. What did Echo ever do to you, guys? Why do you want to burn down the café? And I don't see any torches or gasoline, so how do you plan to do it?"
"With these," Karmi declares, holding up some kind of wide-barreled gun. "They're loaded with a special kind of bullet—grenades. Not exactly designed to kill, just to explode and to produce an inordinate amount of fire. No-Ginger over there designed them," she adds, jerking her head at Wasabi, who shrinks under her gaze. I can't help but notice that his weapon hangs limply at his side, and Momokase doesn't even seem to have one.
"As for what you did to us," Karmi continues, "the answer is—nothing. Nothing yet. But I can't take down North Korea until you peace-loving brats are out of the way, so I'm just taking you out before you become a hindrance. Trust me, it'll be better this way, so let us through, Hamada. Like I said, I might let you live."
I shake my head. "Never."
Karmi's face darkens. "Then I suppose we'll just have to kill you."
And GoGo's sharp-edged disks come slicing through the air at me. I let out a sonic wave pulse and send them spinning off in different directions, then leap into the air, spreading my wings and looking down at Vortex. GoGo attempts another attack, but I simply fly higher, dodging it. After a few minutes of further disk-throwing, I hear Karmi's whisper of "Never mind. Just burn it—we'll catch him later."
That I can't allow, so I swoop back down and hover a few inches off the ground, extending my wings as far as they will go. "If you take another step—"
"—it won't change anything," Karmi finishes. "Our guns are long-range. Vortex—fire!"
She raises her gun and pulls the trigger, and I whirl around in horror as it sails through the sky and slams into the second-floor window of the café. GoGo's grenade is fired next, hitting the roof, and then another from Karmi, which hits the garage. Amidst the three explosions and the sudden rushing in my ears, I hear a faint scream.
All thoughts of Vortex fleeing my mind, I fire up my thrusters and speed back toward the café, my heart pounding. I can't let Meg die, especially not in a fire, not after I almost lost Tadashi—
"Meg!" I scream, landing on the front step of the café and bursting through the door, trying to skirt around the flames coming in through the garage. "Meg, where are you?"
"I'm upstairs!" she calls back. "I'm getting the blueprints—" She coughs violently, then regains breath. "Get out of here, Hiro! I'll find a way out!"
"I'm coming up!" I yell, pressing myself against the wall and edging toward the stairs. "Just hang on!"
I ignore Megan and flick out my wings slightly, propelling myself toward the ceiling and away from the flames. But the fire is racing up the walls and even onto the ceiling, and I hiss in pain and jerk away from the wall as a tongue of flame licks at the exposed back of my neck.
I barely manage to make it past the stairs and into the living room, where the shrapnel from the first grenade is scattered on the floor. The heat and smoke are even more intense up here, and I burst into a coughing fit as I land on the floor of the living room. Realizing that my helmet is doing me no good, I yank it off, clip it to my belt, and pull my shirt up over my nose. Then I pull my wings in and drop to the floor, crawling over to the second flight of stairs. If Meg is getting the Silent Sparrow blueprints, she must be in my room—they're stowed in my desk drawer.
These stairs aren't completely on fire yet, so I stick close to the wall and crawl as fast as I can toward my room. Another scream from Meg splits the air, and I hear several loud thumps—the roof must be falling in.
My theory is proven when a flaming chunk of wood falls from above and strikes me in the shoulder, just below the reach of my armor. I yelp in pain and surprise as my jumpsuit catches fire and nearly fall back down the stairs trying to put it out. Thankfully, I manage to do so and drag myself the rest of the way up the stairs as little pieces of fiery debris rain from the sky.
"Hiro!" Megan screams as I enter the room. "Seriously, get out of here! Take the blueprints!"
I strain to see through the flames and smoke, and my eyes widen in horror when they finally find Megan. My best friend is trapped under a pile of flaming wood, struggling to get free but unable to move.
"Hang on!" I yell, army crawling over to Meg. "I'll get you out!"
"No, Hiro, you have to go!"
"I'm not leaving you behind!" I hiss, my eyes watering—though I can't tell if it's from the smoke or the fact that we might not be able to get out of here.
I raise my gauntlets and send out a sonic wave, moving the fallen beams a little. Another piece of wood falls from the ceiling, hitting me in the back, and I clench my jaw but don't cry out. A few more pulses push the debris off Meg, and I grab her hand. "Let's go!"
"We can't take the stairs!" she cries. "They're on fire—Hiro, I don't think we can get out!"
"We're gonna have to jump out the window!" I yell over the roar of the flames. "It's that or nothing, and we've got wings! We'll be fine, Meg, let's go!"
We crawl over to the window, and I try to pull Meg up, but she can't seem to stand. I don't know how badly she's hurt, but I can't take that into account now—we have to get out or we'll die. The smoke is wreaking havoc on my asthmatic lungs.
"Meg, you have to get up!" I wail, cutting myself off with a gasp of pain as a tendril of fire catches me on the cheek. "Come on, we've got to jump! Now!"
"I'll try," she says through gritted teeth, painstakingly pulling herself up on my desk as the flames leap higher behind us, their roar getting louder and louder. I realize, nearly too late, that the café is going to explode.
"Meg, jump!" I scream, grabbing her wrist again as the heat reaches the point where I think it'll burn if it comes any closer. "Jump!"
Miraculously, she does it. Meg and I both leap forward, and my wing snaps on the edge of the window as we soar into the night, my home collapsing behind us.
Megan's wings fly out beneath me, and I realize that her arms have closed around my waist as we plummet toward the ground. I squeeze my eyes shut and brace for impact.
The impact comes. I yelp as Meg and I slam into the ground, the fall having been slowed by our wings but not completely stopped. Stars explode in my vision, and as they fade, I'm vaguely aware of footsteps, pounding across the ground toward us.
"Hiro!" Tadashi's voice exclaims. "Oh my gosh, are you—"
"We've got to go!" I gasp, retracting my wings and shoving myself painfully to my feet. "Meg, come on!"
I wrap an arm around Megan's shoulders and help her limp away from the burning café, going as fast as I can as adrenaline races through my body. I vaguely hear Krei calling that we need to head to the woods, that we can set up camp there.
But all that is in my head as we limp away is that my home is gone. The warm, welcoming place I've lived for the last twelve years has been destroyed by people I thought were my friends. And that is a more heartrending event than any war.
I glance back at the ruins of my destroyed home, wondering if there's any hope of saving it. Honestly, I don't think so, not when it's been destroyed by grenades.
Faintly, I can see the figures of the members of Vortex standing beside the flaming wreckage, their faces glowing in the firelight. They did this to us. To me.
They are going to pay.
I tear my gaze away from the café and continue on, Megan shaking with sobs beside me, and I realize that I'm crying, too. Tears blur my vision as Echo flees our base, striving to find some place of shelter and security, trying to escape the people who want to kill us.
Before we turn the street corner, I turn and look one last time at the smoldering ruins of my home, its broken, burning pieces glowing like the remnants of a shattered sun.
to be continued…