Part Three of the Power Struggle Trilogy: Endgame

The following picks up three and a half weeks after "Part Two of the Power Struggle Trilogy: Laying the Groundwork."

Mai lays right where the water washes onto her thighs. It is a beautiful sunny day, and she is trying to enjoy every second. But as she sunbathes, something is tugging at the back of her mind. She pulls out her old data link and browses over what she had written. She decides that this story needs its ending and she provides one.

"I walked out of the chop shop knowing that this could turn into the worst day of our collective lives. Though Shinatama and Ryan were confident, I was forcing myself to believe it would be okay, that I would be here at this island and that the ones I loved would be here, too. I had to believe that, and so I did.

I pushed my bike to the limits. I road as hard and as fast as I could. I knew that the TCTF and Syndicate had already begun their attacks. I knew that if I didn't push every second, the distraction would be pointless, and I would have tons of troops all over me. All of my attacks had to be calculated, all moves surgical, and every thought suppressed. I had to be outside of my body, seeing all around me while I was focusing on my attack. Complicated, as it seemed, I had done the same when I took out Griffin at TCTF HQ two years ago.

I arrived at the Syndicate bunker in 20 minutes, 45 minutes after the main attack had begun. It looked like a run down car detailer. It was a one story building and would normally be dismissed as a normal out-of-business establishment. Perfect... Or so they thought. I hid my bike in an alley and engaged the antitheft mode. I double checked my Predator II's to make sure they were loaded correctly and would not jam. I had hand-loaded every bullet into the ammunition clips I carried in my coat. I charged my suit and disappeared from vision.

I slipped into the bunker through a missing board in one of the windows. What I saw inside, was exactly what I would have expected the inside of an old building to look like. Broken glass, deteriorating walls, and cracked tile floors. I looked for something out of place. I couldn't find anything. I started to panic, wondering if the location was incorrect, when something caught my eye. It was a brand new security lock on the doors to the back room. If no one had used this place in over 20 years, why would there be a new lock? I had found the entrance.

The lock was a metasteel super-lock, the so-called unbreakable lock. It crumbled in my hand with ease. I slid the doors open carefully, and began my search for the main entrance.

The back room looked the same. Old and dilapidated. Broken glass, dirt, mold... a door not rusted? My stomach jumped. I went to the door and examined it carefully. It had obviously been put in within the last 6 months, due to the lack of dirt. I couldn't find the handle though. I scanned it for hinges, handles, locks, anything. I could have easily broken down the door, but then I would have been swarmed by strikers and the Triumvirate would split.

I looked around the door. At first, nothing stood out. When I moved closer to the door, I noticed this spot 3 inches to the left of the middle of the left side of the door. It appeared like the rest of the wall but had a dark circle where there was no paint or dirt. I assumed it had been used recently. I applied pressure to it slowly, but it didn't move. I pushed and turned, but there was no effect. A thought fluttered through my mind. I knocked on the wall and then the circle. The difference I heard was stone and metal.

I slipped back to my bike and came back. I had gotten the super magnet from the tool compartment. Sure enough, it stuck to the circle. I pulled on it and the circle pulled away from the wall. I removed the circle of metal from the wall and found a number pad behind it. Easy. I removed the faceplate screws with the magnet and proceeded to disengage the lock. When I heard the locking mechanism open, I reengaged the number pad and placed the circle of metal back in place. I slipped the magnet into my pocket and slid through the door, carefully closing it behind me.

Inside was my reassurance that I hadn't got false data. I saw exactly what I expected of a Syndicate installation. Metal. Floor, ceiling, walls, desks, and consoles were all metal. This was obviously a high security area, protected from all high power ballistic and energy weapons. Good thing for me that I was relying on brute force. There was a guard stationed at every 50 feet of hallway and every intersection. The strikers on hall duty had SMG's while the intersection guards had plasma rifles. The workers even had small caliber pistols.

I definitely wasn't looking forward to a frontal assault with everyone. So, I crept slowly and silently toward the battle room.

Though the path should have been straight, the main path was littered with static defenses that even I couldn't manage to slip through. I had to go the long way, the air ventilation ducts.

I found an empty room and then opened up the vent cover on the air duct. I looked inside, and was surprised by the fact that there was nothing in the duct. I climbed in and moved through the ducts quickly and silently. After what seemed like endless turns, drops, and rises, I arrived at the duct to the battle room. The vent cover had been welded shut, and a security bot had been stationed to face the vent, so if anyone attempted to break the welds, the security bot would attack and set off the alarm.

I had read the schematics of a Syndicate security bot. They vary in size and shape but all have the same computer system. They see infrared, so they don't attack debris. They were standardly equipped with dual SMG's but could be modified to carry plasma rifles, depending on size. I assumed this one had SMG's although it didn't really matter. I drew a Predator in one hand and put my light sword on the duct floor. I pulled a clip out of my jacket. I threw the clip at the vent cover and shot it before it hit. The clip exploded in red-orange flame, and destroyed the security bot and that end of the duct simultaneously. However, I saw none of this because by the time I had shot the clip, I had already picked up and activated my light sword.

I sliced through the duct with ease, and dropped down lightly. I expected a hail of gunfire my way, because I was holding my sword, but the Triumvirate and nine strikers looked confused at seeing an explosion at one end and a purple burst that severed the duct at the opposite end. By the time they had realized my presence, I had moved within striking range of the Triumvirate. As I beheaded the first, Michael Primauster, the duct peeled away from the ceiling and hit the floor. Seeing the second, John Masters, fall in half, the strikers opened fire.

My flame ignited instinctively, and the bullets melted on contact. I shot two strikers in the head as my blade left the third, Peter Wingfield, in five pieces. I quickly deactivated my sword, put it behind my coat, and pulled the other Predator. I opened fire and dispatched the remaining seven strikers.

The noise we had generated brought the strikers outside the door and in the hall into the room. They looked around stunned and confused. They saw the Triumvirate and the bodyguards in a pool of blood. I was cornered but in no way afraid. I emptied my clips into the first fifteen. I saw that there were 37 strikers behind the ones I had just dropped. I holstered my guns and went hand-to-hand. The strikers finally retaliated with a rain of bullets and energy blasts. The energy blasts that weren't stopped by my flame were absorbed by my energy suit. I grabbed a striker and threw him at the others, falling short due to the force of the energy blasts that hit him. I jumped into the middle of the group. The strikers quickly spread out but not before I broke the knees of the three that were closest to me with a leg sweep.

A large blast burst against my back. It was much more powerful than a plasma rifle. I spun around to see a security bot that had been released from a hidden compartment. It was equipped with a wave motion cannon. I dove behind a striker. The bot ripped right through him. Since that worked so well, I ran around the perimeter of the room, and sure enough, the bot tore through every striker. I ran around to the bot, while pulling out my light sword. In the same motion of igniting it, I sliced through the main CPU. I came back around and sliced the cannon off of the mount. I put my light sword on my back, loaded my guns, and picked up the cannon. I deactivated my flame and was again invisible.

I ran down the hall at a fairly good pace. I decided that stealth was no longer an option. I came to the first set of static defenses, and I used the cannon to destroy the defense guns. The guards looked confused, while I proceeded to bash them in the head with the cannon. I did the same at the second and third static defense grids. On my way to the fourth grid, I realized that the cannon was out of ammunition.

I stood three feet from the infrared net, and I hurled the cannon at one of the strikers, pulping him on impact. The guns tracked the cannon through the grid. I took this opportunity to rip one of the guns off of the wall and then use it to bash the other gun to pieces. The other striker was stunned with surprise. I punched him in the face, the force of my blow tearing his head from his shoulders.

I ran at full speed toward the exit. There were about a hundred strikers guarding it, set up in semicircle waves. I drew my Predator's and blasted a hole through their formation. Still moving at full speed, I jumped and kicked the door off of its hinges. I wasted no time in charging through the wall, into the alley containing my bike. I deactivated the antitheft and blasted forward towards my plane.

Four blocks away, I glanced back for tails and saw four syndicate motorcycles. They appeared to be gaining. I had become visible and deactivated my flame, but it didn't matter. They were lined up in two's, preparing to flank me on all four corners. I set my cycle on auto-drive, which automatically decreases my speed to the limit, bringing me from 275 mph to 20 mph in 2 seconds. I used that time to draw and reload my guns. I stood on my foot pegs and fired full auto at the four strikers. All of them dropped in a bloody mess of twisted metal. I reloaded, slipped my guns into their holsters, deactivated the auto-drive, and proceeded toward the airport.

Again I peered over my shoulder, and to my relief, saw no one following me. I used the time given by the drive to figure out how I'm getting to the roof of the TCTF fallback point. I could glide from a taller building. I could get dropped from a hired plane at the airport. I could also just zip- line from another building. I decided that zip-lining would be the easiest way.

I approached the airport at top speed. As I burst through the gate to the runway, I noticed cars and motorcycles in my mirror. I programmed the auto- drive to move at top speed to the cargo plane. I drew my guns and turned around on my bike. Three cars and six bikes. The syndicate must have deployed them from other locations. I shot all of the bikers and one of the drivers. The other two cars had bulletproof glass. I blew out the tires and looked back. I was 10 seconds from the plane. The cars opened fire and my flame went up. The bullets slagged on impact. 5 seconds. Strikers in both cars began to fumble around with rocket launchers. I was in the plane as the launchers were stuck out the windows. As the door began to close, I shot each striker in the hand, forcing them to drop the rocket launchers. I got away clean. I just wish I could say the same about my next stop.

I used my flight time to meditate. Visions crept into my meditation. Me lying on the beach. Shinatama happy. Ryan relaxed. TCTF black ops. Syndicate strikers. Ryan dead. Shinatama destroyed. Me... imprisoned with no reason to escape. I snapped out of my meditation. I was sweating. I looked at the time. One hour, fifteen minutes to deployment. I used the rest of my time to try and get some sleep. I dreamt about the future of the world, and when I awoke, I felt calmed. The pilot walked into the cargo compartment.

"We've arrived. Where's my money?" I handed him a cred stick with the remaining half million of his payment.

"Thank you. I appreciate your bravery. It's hard to come by these days." He looked confused and lifted off almost as soon as my bike hit the runway.

I looked forward for once. Past the mess of this hell created by the TCTF and Syndicate, to my life after this. Would it be better? It had to be. No TCTF trying to dissect me, and no strikers looking for a reward. I looked at a life with normal worries. Strange, I thought. I refueled my bike and approached my destiny with open arms.

I roared out of the airport, toward the TCTF fallback point. By now, they had probably heard about the Triumvirate being killed. I was hoping that they were celebrating. The only thing that worried me was whether or not the TCTF had heard a report of the assassin in the Syndicate bunker. I think I killed everyone who saw me there, but I wasn't as sure about security cameras. I had to hurry.

My bike was at top speed, 350 mph. I wasn't worried about the police. They were pushovers. They don't even bother with anyone moving at over 260 mph. I approached the side street of the building. As I looked up, I confirmed that the building right next to it was 138 stories taller than the fallback building.

Again, I slipped my bike into an alley. I pulled my zip-line out of my cargo compartment, then loaded my guns, charged my suit, and disappeared from view. I walked into the lobby of the neighbor building. The doors were kept open. I immediately noticed the guards at the elevators. I guess they were there to ensure that no unwanted individuals were admitted to the higher floors. After doing some quick searching, I found the staircase. It was hidden from view, next to the laundry room. I made sure no one was looking and began my 1085 floor climb.

I moved at a fairly good pace. I was doing 50 floors a minute. I was amused that on every floor, I heard guards. Did they think that it was beyond anyone to climb stairs? I approached the last floor 22 minutes later. I looked at the roof entrance. The stairs led right into a wall of metacrete. Either there was some kind of hidden terminal, or they decided to block off the door to the roof. It didn't matter to me because every second counted, and I wasn't about to try and figure it out. I put my hand on the wall and drew my light sword. I sliced out a large hole and held the chunk of metacrete. I put my sword back and pushed the piece out.

The piece of metacrete was two and a half feet thick and had to weigh at least three quarters of a ton. I set it down, careful not to make any noise. I shot my zip-line into the outside edge of the roof. I shot the other end of the line at the roof of the fallback building. I attached my riding handles to the line and slid off the edge of the building. I slid quickly, and for a split-second I was unsure if the speed control was engaged. Doubt was purged from my mind when the riding handles began to slow as I got closer to the building. I came to a stop and let go of my handles.

I approached the roof door, which was metal. My hand was reaching for the handle, when I heard voices from behind the door. I spun around behind the door. I watched two black ops agents walk onto the roof with two women, a blonde and a brunette. They didn't have their helmets, and their radios were turned off. One had a gun. They appeared to be trying to convince the women to have sex with them. The women didn't seem too interested. I slipped my super magnet in-between the door and the frame to ensure that no one else came out.

I shed my coat and guns. I took off my gloves, and all I had was my energy suit. I became visible around the back side of the roof entrance. The agents continued their attempts on the women. I slipped out from behind my cover and walked over to the four of them. They lost all interest in the other two women.

"Hey baby, wanna have some fun?" the one with the gun asked.

"We'll make it worth it," the other chimed. I closed with him and ran my hand down his cheek. He moved his hand in place to grab my butt.

"Careful. Look, don't touch." He disregarded my comment and grabbed anyway. He ripped his hand away screaming. "Told you." The other started laughing hysterically. I slipped over to him while his friend was staring in awe at his charred hand. I deactivated my suit and removed the shirt and jacket of the agent with the gun. I wrapped my arm around his waist so that I was still facing him. I was sliding my hand down his chest when the other started screaming, telling him to kill me.

"You were the one being an idiot," he told him.

"I don't care! Look what she did to my hand!" He held his charred and now bloody hand up for him to see. I continued down his chest. My hand was at his belt.

His screaming persisted. I had undone his belt, and it fell to the ground. The one with the bloody hand saw the gun hit the ground and went for it. I had undone his pants when the bloody-handed one had gotten to it. He rolled back and fired. By the time he fired, I had gotten his pants down to the ground. When the bullet left the barrel, my flame activated, blowing the naked one back away from me.

I saw a wave of realization pass over their faces. It was obvious that they now knew who I was. It was too late. I walked to the one with the gun as he emptied the clip. He panicked and began to run. I had him as soon as he turned around. I broke his neck with one hand and took his gun with the other. By this time, the naked one had gotten his pants up and had picked up his jacket. I deactivated my flame and pounced on him. I pinned him and removed a clip from his jacket. With my knee on his chest, I reloaded the gun. I shot him in his left knee.

I turned to the two women, who were staring in a mix of horror and amusement. I gave the gun to the blonde. "Have fun, but don't kill him, and don't let him leave." They thanked me. I put my gloves back on and charged my suit. I grabbed my stuff, turned invisible, and proceeded through the roof door, collecting my super magnet as I passed.

The door to the top floor was locked. It was 10-inch titanium, had a bolt locking mechanism, and was airtight. Good for lock-down situations. I used my magnet to slide the bolt back. I opened the door slowly and examined the situation. There were two agents posted at the elevator, four at the door to the director's office, and five stationed throughout the hall. I slipped out of the stairwell and moved toward the director's office. The guards were complaining to each other about how they got screwed in not being able to participate in the party downstairs.

A guard noticed that the door wasn't locked. "Damn it Frank! You gotta lock this thing!"

"Sorry, I just get so preoccupied with the crap they put us through that I forget."

"Well, it's there to keep people out. Stop forgetting."

I had gotten to the director's office. I placed my ear on the door and heard two men arguing. One was telling the other that he didn't know how to do his job and that the director needed to be here instead of him, due to his idiotic behavior. I heard the angry one walking toward the door. I backed off in front of one of the agents. The door opened, the man stormed out, and I slipped in just before the door shut.

Inside, I found the assistant director, four bodyguards, and a black ops agent. The assistant director and the black ops agent were exchanging their views on the director. They thought that he should be protected right now, instead of celebrating. I had moved in between the two. I was set up so that the assistant director and black ops agent were at my peripheral and the four bodyguards were in front of me. I drew my guns and aimed at the assistant director and the black ops agent. I fired at the two, killing them with my first shots, and swept my guns in front of me, shooting all four bodyguards, instantly dropping them.

I charged the door, which an agent had begun to open. I jumped and kicked him in the face, my momentum breaking his neck and carrying me out of the room. I pistol whipped the two agents two my right and kicked the other one in the head. The six agents, Frank, and the other man saw the four drop, dead.

"Phase cloak!" Frank ran to a terminal and pressed a sequence of buttons. A red light filled the room, and the agents put their visors down. "There! It's her."

We both opened fire. I shot the other man first, then the agent that yelled at Frank. My flame ignited and took six shots. I fired again, killing all but Frank. He shot at me and missed. I fired at the terminal and killed the red light. I deactivated my flame just after it took two shots from Frank. I moved at him low to the ground in a curve. He spun, firing wildly. I came up, and disarmed him. He was laying on the floor in complete terror. I destroyed his gun and holstered mine.

I became visible and picked him up off of his feet, roasting the flesh I touched. I moved toward the elevator. Frank was in enormous pain and couldn't speak. I slammed him against the wall next to the elevator. I pried open the doors and lifted Frank over the shaft. I took pity and broke his neck before I dropped him.

I waited about 3 minutes for the alarm to sound. When it did, I entered the elevator shaft by digging into the inside of the shaft, next to the door. I lifted my now taloned fingers from the wall slightly and began to slide. As sparks flew, I watched for a door that looked different. After two and a half minutes, I saw a door that was made of a different metal from the others, newer as well. I slid two floors past it, but climbed back to the door. I held onto the wall with one hand, while I dismantled the door with my light sword. I watched the door land on the elevator that Frank's body had caved-in.

Five guns poked into the shaft. I sliced their guns in half and jumped into the hall. It was covered in black ops agents, who were all armed. The five agents that no longer had weapons charged me. I went flat against the floor, slipped between the middle agent's legs, and with a large sweeping kick, sent them into the shaft. I saw at least 175 men. They charged me in rings of 15. The first wave charged, and I felt a strange sensation. The sensation evolved into mental commands. My flame ignited and began to stretch away from me. It enveloped the agents and stopped behind them. The agents faces turned pale, and their lifeless bodies hit the floor. My flame stayed at its distance. I started to feel faintly fatigued, but it wasn't the gunfire. The faces of the agents turned from looks of anger to looks of horror. My flame began to expand again. It was taking the shape of a dragon as it stretched faster. It was not harming the agents as it passed through them. Once this "dragon" had filled the room, every agent burst into purple flame. As soon as the last agent hit the floor, my flame dissipated into its original form. I deactivated the flame and walked around the elevator shaft, seeing that all of the agents there, had also been killed and lit on fire.

I walked toward the director's room, visible, with my kitana drawn. I was going to enjoy this kill. This was the man that was responsible for everything. He averted his eyes countless times, allowing Griffin to do whatever he deemed necessary. I opened the door and walked in.

The director was sitting behind his desk. There was a guard to each side of me. I kicked the one to my left in the chest, breaking his ribs and puncturing one of his lungs. I charged the guard on my right, leading my elbow into his throat. I left him on the floor to suffocate. The director had activated the lock-down sequence on this room, which included a protective wall surrounding his desk. I jumped and flipped over the rising titanium ring. I had him alone and unarmed. I felt a little guilty that I was going to kill an unarmed foe. Then I let my blade slip through his flesh.

The director was still alive when I finished with my sword. I took off my glove and lifted him from the pool of blood he had left. I sheathed my kitana and used my light sword to remove the wall. I made my way to the roof, unabated.

I lifted the director over the edge of the roof.

"Did you really think you could get away with your crimes against humanity? You think that you are the saint in this world. You believe that anything is the appropriate means if it gets more money and more power into your pocket. You let a little girl be mutated into a freak. Well this freak won't go silently." I dropped him off the side of the roof. I took the gun from the two women and told them that they were to use the stairs to get off the roof and to tell the TCTF that I held them captive. I left the agent to be found later.

I used my zip line to go to the neighbor building. When I got to the roof, I was surprised by 145 TCTF agents and seven mounted wave motion cannons. I drew my light sword and psyched myself for the fight. Before I got a chance to attack, the cannons attacked me simultaneously. The concussion of the attack blew me off the building. I knew that I was going to fall about two and a half miles, much more than I had fallen before. I put my sword away and focused on that feeling I had inside. I longed for that mental suggestion. After I had fallen half way, the feeling returned. My flame enveloped me, and nothing else happened. I trusted myself and went for it. As I hit, my flame exploded around me. I left large crevices in the street. I ran to my bike. I disengaged antitheft, hopped on, and headed to the airport.

There was a message on my bike. I answered it while I blew out of the alley. The small vid window lit up. Shinatama's face filled the screen.

"Mai! They found our hideout. There are strikers everywhere! I'm not going to make it to the plane. You have to get to the plane. Leave me! You and Ryan are more important...." The screen went blank.

I spun my bike around. I should have been going towards the airport to get back to get a plane back to the chop shop or at least on the plane with Ryan. Instead, I was roaring in the direction of Shinatama. Looking back on this, there should have been no way I would have tried to cover two countries and come to her rescue. The more I focused on Shinatama's distress, the faster my bike went. The speedometer rose to max at 325 mph. I kept accelerating. I didn't have any idea of my speed, but my bike rose off the pavement and kept moving.

When I was 3 feet off the ground, I saw this wave of light in front of me. It washed over me quickly, and I can only assume I had ripped into sonic speeds. A purple energy coursed through myself and the motorcycle. It was a rush, however, the exhilaration deterred me in no way from Shinatama. I could only imagine what those bastards were doing to her. I ripped past Quantum Park, the first designer of mach 15 jet engines, located on the border of Tsamin and Fjorhin, where I was headed. I blazed down the main street to MetaCortex, shattering windows and ripping tiles from the buildings. I had reached visual range of the chop shop. Bright flashes, roaring gunfire, and screams filled the air.

I reduced to subsonic speed. I threw my flame up, drew my guns, and braced myself for the impact.

I didn't actually hit the wall so much as force it away from me. I leaped off of my cycle and went into a firing dive. I shot five strikers and ran two over with the motorcycle. I rolled to my left to take cover behind a metacrete pillar. I saw fifteen strikers, five furies, and one who appeared civilian. I wrapped around the far side of the pillar and fired twelve times, all twelve bullets hitting their targets. Seven strikers, one fury, and one civilian. They returned with a volley of energy rounds. I rolled back behind the pillar and continued the motion with a side flip to come around the other side. I shot the five strikers and the fury, leaving the civilian.

I ignored him, being more concerned with Shinatama. I headed toward the main area of our base. I burst through the door in a rain of wood splinters. The gunfire roared... but not at me. I hooked my head around the doorway. Shinatama was facing off against 45 or 50 strikers. They fired simultaneously. The bullets howled toward her. I ran to save her, but she was too far away. I came six feet short. I watched as the bullets sailed toward the childlike body. The bullets ceased to exist when they got within four inches. Each bullet dissolved when it hit a blue barrier in front of her body. When the gunfire stopped for the strikers to reload, I saw 24 slots on Shinatama slide open. She stood, legs spread, arms wide and proceeded to fire rapidly at all of them. Bullets poured from each individual slot as she screamed in a blood curdling rage. Every striker dropped to the ground lifeless.

She looked to me with a look of happiness to see me and then disgust at what she had done. She was not programmed to kill. Her look of confused emotion shifted instantaneously to what was unmistakably pain and terror. She looked down, as I did also, to find a blue crackling hand ripping her in two from the abdomen. I looked up and saw the civilian I had carelessly left behind. He would die slowly for his mistake.

I charged him with guns blazing. I fired at full auto, emptying my clips. I reloaded and emptied the fresh clips into him as well. He was unfazed. A blue electricity sizzled around him, vaporizing the bullets. I dropped my guns and drew my light sword. He didn't move. I struck him five times in one fluid series, each time having my sword bounce away. I threw it to the floor while drawing my kitana. Still, he had yet to budge. I swiped at his head, leaving his neck intact and my sword in two. I dropped my coat and threw my hands up in a fighting stance.

"Why do you fight me, Konoko... Or is it Mai? We are the same. Both Daodan enhanced, both children of the TCTF, and both destined to serve the greater good."

"You are Daodan enhanced? You're full of shit! I was deep in the TCTF archives and there was no word of a third Chrysalis."

"On the contrary, I am a Daodan child. The TCTF has developed another Chrysalis. It is stronger and free from the hosts emotional defects. My code name is Prometheus. I am five times as powerful as Muro at his transformation. I promise that if you come back now, I won't kill you."

"You? Kill me? Now I know you're seriously fucked in the head. If you think you have a chance, go for it. I've killed people like you before."

Prometheus seized up in a look of pain. Static charged the air. Blue white bolts ripped from his body, hitting the walls. He refocused his attention to me again, his eyes now blazing with blue white electricity. I ran at him with my flame at full blast. He watched me run towards him. He stared at me and let loose with a bolt from his hand. It hit me square in the chest and sent me back against the wall. I shook it off and retook my stance. Prometheus let loose with bolt after bolt in my direction. I dodged them with a great amount of effort.

It felt like I had been dodging these bolts for days. I thought he would tire eventually. Figuring I couldn't outlast him, I began to weave toward him. He saw my attempt to close with him. He discontinued his volley of bolts. He focused on his hands, and they gained a blue electric energy. I charged him, hoping I could best him in hand to hand. I got three body blows in before he landed a punch on my shoulder. I flew back 25 feet. I looked at my shoulder to find a large black mark on my suit. I focused back to the TCTF fallback point, when I had released that energy beast. I concentrated on that feeling again.

Prometheus, seeing me deep in concentration, charged me with fists blazing. My eyes flared with purple white flame. My fist jumped to block his punch. Our hands just locked into an energy clash. An ear-shattering crackling began to form. I forced my entire Daodan flame to manifest in my arm. Prometheus, caught off guard, staggered back. I let my flame course back over my body. I focused back on that dragon again and tried to make it take shape. I felt a warm, content touch on the back of my body. Prometheus's eyes widened as I jumped at him.

I struck Prometheus seven times, each time the dragon behind me followed through with my strike. Prometheus flew back in a howl. I jumped on top of him, my knees pinning his arms to the ground. I hit him in the face repeatedly, the dragon doing so as well. The crackling started again, between my knees and his arms. I forced my flame down at him, and doing so forced the dragon down at him as well. I kept hitting him, channeling all the pain from the past two years into raw anger toward Prometheus.

When I finally lifted myself off of him, I was exhausted and my arms hung limp at my sides. I looked down at him and saw what appeared to be a burnt- out husk of his body. I almost felt sorry for him, considering that he was in-fact a Daodan creature like myself.

I whipped around to check Shinatama. She sizzled with sparks.

"Mai, I told you not to come back. You have to leave. Make sure Ryan is safe."

"Shinatama... I couldn't leave you. I love you. I'm supposed to try and save you."

"I'm going to die. Save Ryan. There is no sense in staying here. More strikers are coming. I love you Mai. Go."

I grabbed my coat, light sword, and guns. I pulled out my old bike and headed toward the airport. I rolled out of the garage, and a spotlight hit me in the face. A ladder unrolled and Ryan yelled, "Mai! Hurry! Climb up. The Syndicate are 30 seconds from here." I pulled myself up the ladder as we flew off. I climbed into the main compartment. Ryan was sitting there with a worried look.

"Mai, I know you told me to stay safe, but you didn't show up, and the alarm went off at the base. I thought I should pick you up. Shinatama didn't show up either. Where is she?"

"She's dead."

"Oh, Mai. I'm so sorry."

"Just get us out of here."

The chopper roared to the airport, where we transferred to a jet to Anchorage. I was silent on the flight, telling myself that it wasn't my fault. But it was my fault. I didn't bother to even take a good look at that guy. We transferred at Anchorage to the private jet. We got to the island and Ryan woke me up. I had fallen asleep while thinking about that situation. I hadn't realized how much energy I had exerted. Ryan took me to the room. I laid in bed and slept all night.

I awoke to breakfast in bed. Ryan was trying to get my mind off things. I told Ryan that some things weren't that easy to get your mind off of. We ate breakfast and talked about what had been publicized. Nothing had come out yet.

I spent the next two weeks just moping around the room. Ryan held me for most of the time, but it was ridiculous that we had gone through all of this. It was at the end of those two weeks that someone knocked on the door. Ryan opened it and returned with a disk. He popped it into the vid viewer. Fatal error sounded in Shinatama's voice. Her voice continued:

"Data corrupted in transmission. Audio data recovered, only. Hello Mai."

"Shinatama?!"

"Yes, Mai. I sent a backup of myself to the island before you left that day. I assume that I died, as I expected."

"But, how did you know that they would come?"

"Your Chrysalis hatched there. It was just a matter of time before the TCTF or Syndicate found our base. We weren't going to have time to move. I was ready for it to happen."

Shinatama was back, at least her voice was. Her program was no longer capable of supporting video or running an SLD. She could only support her AI and voice. That was good enough for me.

Five days passed before the incident hit the net. They had attempted to contain the information, but once a little bit leaked, it moved like wildfire: "The Syndicate terrorist group and the Technology Crimes Task Force were ripped to shreds by an unknown assailant." "Who is this unknown hero? Why did they do it?" "Bright flashes of light were seen deep in the poisoned zones." "Experimental speed bike propelled by a streak of light seen outside MetaCortex." The reports were both serious and ludicrous, yet in a way, all true. The public now knew the truth. The blindfold had been ripped from their faces. I would now have to relax."

Mai deactivates the data link. She is satisfied with the record. She rises from her spot on the beach and heads to the bar. Mai hands the data link to a waitress and asks her to run it up to her room. She leaves a note for Ryan saying that she'll be back in a few hours. Mai walks into the ocean and takes a long relaxing swim.

This concludes the Power Struggle Trilogy