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"Three years, Neo. That's all we can do. We need evidence of your progress before we can continue funding your Cortex Commandos Project. We've spent too much money and have dwindled too many of our resources trying to keep you safe until you can get back on top. If you can't show us a Commando by then, we're going to have to shut you down ourselves, got it?"

Cortex began sweating nervously. "I've sent you the blueprints of the Cortex Vortex AND the Evolvo-Ray; isn't that evidence enough for the Board? Your oil fields won't dry up in three years; you have plenty of time and money to invest in the project. The world already thinks that I and the other original Commandos were killed off completely. There's no suspicion, and no reason to tip-toe around anymore. We're completely off the grid, and the world is under a sole leadership, meaning that this time around, it will be cheaper and quicker to take over the world."

"Look, Neo, we'd love to extend your deadline. No one has ever shown as much promise as you have. You have more potential and have shown more results than anyone we've ever invested in, but Chairman Talins insists that we fund one of his private operations, leaving no room in the budget for a toppled tyrant like you. You're just going to have to come up with a specimen to show us. We'll meet back in month for a progress report." CLICK. The screen of each board member flickered off one by one.

N. Brio, who was outside the door listening in, walked in the room nervously. "D-doctor C-Cortex, the radars are p-picking up a jet heading for our l-l-location! Should we c-c-ommence with firing our t-torpedos?"

Cortex turned around slowly. "Not yet Dr. Brio, let's invite our guest in. One small jet can't do a fortress such as this any harm. Let's see what they want. Then we can ring their necks and hang them over the side of the castle as a warning for other trespassers. "

"V-very good, d-doctor." Brio nodded and silently left the room.

Cortex banged his fist on the table. "I need more time! Don't these people understand that taking over the world isn't a business?! It's a seed that needs to be nurtured and cared for until it grows into a beautiful flower. It can't just be expected to grow when the gardener chooses for it to! I'm nowhere near ready for actual animal trials, it would be too risky." Cortex calmed down and began pacing the room. "What would the Chairman be working on that would drain the funds anyways? Is there another man that the board puts its faith in?"

"I'm glad you asked, Dr. Cortex." Cortex jumped back with his hand on his laser. "W-who's there," Cortex stuttered.

"Relax, Neo, it's me, Joseph Talins. I came here to directly inform you of the project that I decided to heavily invest in, but I guess the board already mentioned that to you." He began to chuckle and took a seat at the head of the table. "Sit, Neo. We're not strangers here." Cortex, without losing eye contact, slowly lowered himself into a chair near the door. "Now, Neo, you are one of our most loyal and valuable assets, so I'm willing to tell you anything you want to know about this project, and why it means so much to me personally, along with the rest of the board."

Hesitating, Cortex stared at the Chairman, who returned the stare with very soft eyes, almost gentle. I guess that was the mask he was forced to always wear, Cortex thought. After all, he is the Vice President of Leadership Management for the world right now; he has to have a certain image.

Cortex and Joseph had known each other since Cortex was in High School. He and Brio, sick of the tortures that High School and life had brought them, detonated a bomb causing a 'freak explosion' in the school, and likewise detonated one at the circus where Cortex's family performed. Joseph had offered to fund Cortex and Brio if they were willing to further their destruction to the entire world, a dream that Cortex had always had. Cortex built the Cortex Vortex with the money, and immediately enslaved the leaders of the world, creating the first Cortex Commandos. Funded by the board, Cortex went on to take over the world by the time he was 22 years old. Of course another force led by a masked man was trying to steal the control that Cortex had. The conflict between the two evils grew so much that Cortex's control slipped from him as freedom began to take back the planet right under his nose. Cortex and his army were then hunted down. Cortex and Brio, however, escaped from the ruin of their kingdom, faking their deaths and fleeing to a discrete archipelago off the coast of Australia. The scientists did everything they could to repair the minds of the world leader-made-military, but it could not be done, and they were all executed on sight.

"Neo?"

Cortex blinked and looked over at the blank screen. "Who are you funding, and what are they planning?"

The Chairman smiled. "Two very good questions, Doctor. The person I'm funding came to us. During a meeting, he walked in and gave his speech and left. The kid had white hair, and a very cold heart. We actually met him not long after I confronted you for the first time. We took a liking to him because of a certain object he possessed. He walked up to me, and he set a jar on my desk. He told me, 'This holds DNA of one of the greatest creatures to ever walk this earth. I need your money to bring this creature back to life. With him, and a few other key players, I can bring the world to its knees.' Well, long story short, recently, he brought that creature back to life, so, with such quick progress, we decided to invest a lot in the boy."

Intrigued, Cortex looked at Talins. "So, you're giving all of your funds to a kid with a monster?"

The Chairman sat up and leaned over to Cortex. His pleasant appearance disappeared and his piercing green eyes seemed to look through Cortex. "I thought the same thing. But as he walked out of the room, I saw the lotus tattoo on the back of his neck."

Cortex looked uninterested as he began wiping a smudge from his table. "And how does that make him special?"

Joseph stood up. "Cortex, this man is a master of all martial arts, as a young child. He managed to trace down the board, which leaves no fingerprints. Even after finding us, he was able to get past our guards, guards that I hired myself. This is no ordinary kid."

Listening to the fear in the Chairman's voice, Cortex began to laugh. "You mean to tell me, the second most powerful man in the world is scared of a child? Joseph, since I met you, I knew you were only a stiff behind a desk. You're afraid to get your hands dirty. But this is ridiculous. Put a bullet between his eyes and end him. "

"It's not that simple, Neo. I've sent man after man to kill this kid, but to no avail. In our meeting the other day, a package was delivered. When we opened the box, inside were all of the heads of the assassins we sent after him. He's good, Neo."Joseph looked down at his watch. "Well, it's about time for me to leave." His faced brightened back up to his usual kind expression. "I have a meeting with the Leadership Council, and then a press conference on the bill to clean up the streets after what you left for us." He chuckled, waved, and walked out of the door. Cortex stood up and followed him.

"You're going to wish you would've invested more money in my Commandos project when you see the new Commandos, Chairman Talins."

Joseph boarded his jet. "You're probably right, Neo. But I need more than idle words, I need results. I'll be back in three years for a demonstration." With that, the jet door closed, speeding out of the castle into the distance. Brio walked up behind Cortex.

"W-what do we do now, d-doctor?"

"Bring the venus fly traps into the lab. We've got to get this project started as fast as we can."