Chapter 20:

Brightstar Arc 4 (Chapter 4)

Brightstar: The Rising Superhero

Surrounded by falling concrete and exhausted from the fight, I took a seat beside the old hybrid. He groaned as he shifted his insectoid body into a more comfortable position. “I’ll admit that was a good hit.” He coughed lightly.

“Have you had enough?”

“Haha, I do.”

“Now tell me everything.”

“I made a deal with Long Ironhide for a cure that will save my wife. I know it’s against my better judgement to make a deal with a devil, but I had no choice. My wife is dying and… there’s no way to stop it.”

“What kind of deal?”

“The deal was I helped him develop a serum that can give a normal person power. Off the record. He doesn’t want people to know and wants nothing that can be traced back to him, so he hired us to do so. I have the manpower, and they all are loyal to me. Secret guaranteed until now that is.”

“A serum that can give people power? Is that even possible?”

“No. The furthest we got was a booster that drives people mad.”

“Collin…” I lowered my sight to the ground while my grip tightened around the sword.

“I’m sorry for what happened to him. We didn’t know they were going to test it on him.”

“Earlier you said about a timer?”

“Yes, we are on borrowed time. I don’t know what happened, but yesterday I heard they finally came close to developing a new serum that works. Things have been mobilizing. I knew right at that moment that shit was going to betray us. He was never going to find a cure for my wife. I was a fool to trust him in the first place.”

“You’re an idiot. That’s for sure.” I took up a smile. “What are you going to do now?”

“I want to be with my wife until the end.”

“How about your kids? You can’t leave them.”

“I know, but I can’t have both.”

“Then pick the livings. She would want it that way.”

“It’s not that easy.”

I grabbed his collars and narrowed my eyes at him. “It is. Take your wife and spend the remaining time with your entire family. Don’t deny them their last goodbye, understand?!”

“Damn it…” Arthur gritted his teeth and slammed his fist. “You’re right.”

“Good. You guys want to disappear right? Find my aunt. Find Kusagi and ask her for help. Say to her that I told you so. I know I can’t do much, but she can.”

“You’re letting us go?”

“I am.” I released his collar and sat on the rubble.

A familiar voice interrupted our moment. I turned away and tried to listen closely. {Brightstar, can you hear me?}

“Don’t trust them. They are working for Ironhide. I know because one of them picked up the serum for him,” Arthur whispered.

I put a finger on my lips, a signal to keep himself quiet. “Sister?”

{Brightstar, I can’t hear you. Can you hear me? Your video feed isn’t working, but your tracker just popped up. Damn it. If you can hear me, you need to get out of there.}

{I received word that a missile is heading toward your location.}


Ironhide HQ

The lizard woman pulled up the clipboard. “Sir, we have everything in order. A support campaign has been devised. The emergency service will be ready to act on our call. All notifications have been prepared. A team is set up to help with the effort on the ground. We prepared a speech, sir, in case you need it for the media conference.”

Ironhide strode toward his seat that’s currently facing the window. He carefully sat while trying to find the most comfortable spot. “The best seat in the house.”

“The missile is on its way.”

An office lady walked into the room with a tray of wine and placed one of the wine glasses in Ironhide’s hand. She left the room without saying anything or even a glimpse of eye contact. She wouldn’t dare so.

“Sir, may I ask a question?”

“You have my permission.”

“How about the deal we made with Mr Arthur?”

“I fulfilled the end of my bargain. I found the cure.”

“Did his wife receive it?”

“I never promised to do it. The deal was he helped me with the serum and I found the cure, and I did, but I never said I was going to give it to him.”


“Any more questions?”

“None sir.”

“Shall we get this show on the road?” Ironhide clasped his hands together in giddy.

“We shall, sir.”


Back to Kenn.

“A missile?”

“It’s Ironhide. We need to get out of here. I got a secret exit that we can use.” Arthur rushed to his wife’s pod and untangled all the cords.

I ran up to him and helped him, but I don’t think we have enough time. I glanced back at the small crack in the ceiling. “Can you open up that hole?”

“I can, but what’s your plan?”

“I’m going to intercept the missile.”

“Can you even do that?”

“I don’t know. Never tried it before.”

“You are crazy, son, but I love it.” Arthur rushed to a big piece of equipment beside his wife’s pod.

He screamed. Veins popped on his forehead and around his muscles. He lifted the whole thing with both of his arms with tremendous difficulty. Slowly, he took a few forward and into a run before he flung it at that ceiling. It crashed through the crack. Debris, dirt, and the equipment fell back to the floor and revealed an even bigger hole.

I climbed the mound of dirt. While I stood above the small hill, my body shifted into the ‘Air’ stance. My gaze latched on the sky while I focused all my power on my legs.

“Godspeed,” said Arthur.

I waited for the perfect timing. Doubt began to cloud my mind, but as soon as my eyes spotted it, all my fear disappeared. A dark speck in the vast blue sky, but the trail of smoke was a dead giveaway. After throwing all emotion to the side, I yelled; “Stardust Style: Shooting Star!”

With tremendous power, I launched myself upward in speed even greater than before. A fresh trail of light can be seen behind me. I felt the enormous force pushing against my body, but slowly my power began to encase me in hardened light. The katana of light readied beside me for the perfect strike.

At a precise moment, as it reached into my vicinity, everything around me had somehow slowed down. A single swing was all it took. My blade sliced through it as if it was butter, no resistance whatsoever or deviation. A perfect cut.

The missile exploded after a few seconds from the slashed and sent my body even further up into the sky. Off the course from my earlier straight path. The explosion was strong but wasn’t destructive enough to damage the buildings nearby except for a few crack windows.

My body swirled uncontrollably without guidance. To make matters worse, I lost all my power while immense fatigue plagued my body. After I lost my momentum, I was heading back to earth at a breakneck speed.

My mind panicked as I tried to think of a way to survive this fall.

Strong winds lashed against my cheeks while my jacket fluttered from the fall. Fear started to rise after I went through the clouds and saw my imminent death.

A faint scream called out to me, “Brightstar!”

I rotated my body and behind me was Ria on her flying board. She dived toward me. I never felt more relief seeing her right now. I beamed a huge smile at her underneath my mask after she caught up to me.

“Quick, grab my hand!”

Without a second doubt, I took it with a firm grip. She slowly tilted her board upward and from falling, we curved our momentum upward and crashed landed on one of the roofs nearby. My body rolled alongside hers and we both hit against the edge of the building.

“How did you know?”

“My gut told me.”

“Thank you, Ria’s gut. I’ll make sure to feed it a lot of sandwiches tomorrow.”

We both laughed while trying to catch a breath. Smoke rose from the explosion and emergency sirens echoed in the street. It was a hell of a day.


Somewhere in The City.

Juliet stood beside a window, overlooking the hole Kenn shot himself from. Her cellphone rang, she proceeded to answer it and waited for a few seconds before saying the code word. “Heaven’s wrath.”

“Everything has been set according to your plan,” she continued.

“I have the serum.” She placed the EpiPen on the table right next to her. Then she turned to the duffel bag filled with Stoalium batteries. “The batteries are also in my possession.”

“No trace. No one knows I was there.”

“Are you certain, father?” She waited for him to finish. Her sight dropped as her heart tightened. “No, I didn’t forget. I will always be loyal to you.”

The call ended. She placed down the cellphone near the EpiPen and moved her hand to the trigger device beside it. She was hesitant at first, but eventually, she had no other choice. With the trigger in her hand, she pressed it with a heavy heart.

A column of fire sprouted from the hole where Kenn shot himself; soon, another blast at the far side of the city can be seen, then another one near the dock. Soon five raging fires can be seen all around the city. Each one of them was the entrance to the Honeycomb’s secret base.

Juliet pulled everything on the table into the duffel bag and walked out of the empty room with all set and done. Her face shifted from insectoid to avian, then to an unknown woman. Even her body morphed according to her chosen appearance. However, her clothes remained the same.

After leaving the flat, she took out another trigger and the room behind her exploded. A giant ball of fire consumed it, deleting any evidence she might leave behind if there were any. Juliet disappeared around the corner, never to be seen again.


Another secret exit.

Arthur and his sons ran as fast as they could while trying to escape the fire. However, Arthur had no way of escaping it without the risk of injuring his beloved wife. One of his sons slowed down until he was near the back.

“Father, I love you.” He halted his advance and slid the pipe between the wooden support. With all his strength, he broke the support beam and caused a cave-in. His son sealed the cave behind at cost of his life and stopped the fire from advancing.

“No!” Arthur screamed in anguish as he saw his son’s arm poked out from under the pile of rubble. “Archie… My son.”

His other sons stood behind him, tears welled up in their eyes. Some of them dropped and sobbed while others couldn’t even look at what happened. His son placed a hand on his father’s shoulder to comfort Arthur.

“We have to go, father. Our escape window is almost up.”

Arthur pulled himself together and started marching toward the exit. They were close. This path should lead them into the forest near the city. After seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the cave, it lifted the despair from their hearts.

However, all of that effort came to nought. A line of soldiers in black and tactical gear was waiting for them outside, and they were armed to the teeth with rifles. Each one of them aimed their sight on the group of insectoid hybrids. They were ready to rain them with bullets at the moment’s notice.

Arthur stopped his sons from going further and glanced between the soldiers to find a path he could take. However, it stopped when he saw a disfigured man with burn scars and in a black business suit stepped out from the line of soldiers.

“Arthur! Old friend… I knew you would be here.”


“I got to give you credit. I thought you died in that fire.” He tapped his chest. “Mr Ironhide was very disappointed when his missile was cut in half.”

“We had nothing to do with that.” Arthur kept his wife close to his chest.

“Whether that’s true or not. It doesn’t really matter. He was surprised to find someone had taken care of the problem before we could arrive to finish the job.”

“Can we skip the pleasantries, are you going to let us go or not?”

Salamander shook his head in disappointment. “You already know the answer. You broke the deal, my old friend. There shouldn't be any trace, but there was.”

“That wasn’t our fault. It was your people. What do you think would happen when you inject an experimental serum on a civilian? Besides, I didn’t break the deal. Your master did. He promised me a cure, but I haven’t seen a drop of it.”

“You dare call Mr Ironhide a liar? Here.” Salamander tossed a vial from his pocket to Arthur’s hand. “Here you go as promised. He was feeling a bit generous today.”

“How do I know it will work?” Arthur carefully examined the vial of liquid in his palm. The colour wasn’t the same as the serum he was making.

“Because Mr Ironhide said so. And Mr Ironhide never lies.” A grin appeared on Salamander’s face.

Arthur had no choice, he could allow his wife to drink this and hope for the best, or die right here and right now without knowing the cure actually works. He gritted his teeth and opened the vial before slowly letting the content drip down into his wife's mouth.

“The effect should be immediate. Mr Ironhide did make sure it was as effective as possible.”

Arthur’s wife coughed heavily and caused concern for the man, but after she stopped, her breath became normal. Even her heartbeat began slowing down to a healthy beat. A tear dropped from Arthur’s cheek as he saw his wife barely opened her eyes and smiled.

“Morgana… My love.”

The sons felt a fresh sense of relief to find their mother began showing signs of recovery.

However, Salamander got something else in mind. “Say, how about another deal? If you beat me, I'll let you all go, but if I win…” He chuckled. “You don’t want me to win.”

“I will take the deal, if only you let all my sons and my wife included go. You don't have to worry about them. They won’t tell anybody and disappear. I swear on my word.”

“Father!” His son shouted. “You can’t do this.”

“I really want to fight you, you know that right? They said you were the best. How about a counter deal? I will let your wife and one son go, but you still have to fight me to get the rest out of here. That way I still have my leverage. It’s a good deal, right?”

“Deal.” Arthur passed his wife to his youngest son. “Get out of here and disappear, do you understand?”

He nodded his head vigorously, tears in his eyes as he ran away with Morgana in his arms.

Arthur took a step forward, cracking his knuckle and showed a sense of desperation he had not shown before. He was set to defeat this man and save his family.

Salamander laughed while he unbuttoned his blazer and took out an EpiPen. He stabbed it in his thigh and held a painful groan. “Let’s see if this thing works.”

The serum made its way through his veins. Every cell in his body shifted and morphed, everything inside was moving and Salamander felt everything that was happening, all of it. His body rose in temperature and his eyes began to glow blue instead of orange. “I can feel it!”

Instead of the usual orange fireball, a sharp blue fire hovered above his hands. The heat it permeated was ten times stronger than from his old fire. The tip of his sleeves couldn’t stand the heat and was singed quickly.

Arthur charged forward, fist readied. However, with a single toss of his fireball, Salamander sent the massive man into the tree. Still, Arthur hadn't given up, he grabbed a log near him and charged forward again. He swung the huge log at the man.

Salamander turned his fireball into a blade and cut through it with ease. Afterwards, he launched himself by focusing his fire underneath his feet. His fire propelled him forward. Nearing Arthur, he swung his leg and met his target’s arm.

However, it wasn't a simple kick as a blast of blue fire consumed Arthur’s body and forced him to stumble back before he was burned alive.

Arthur was relentless as he charged forward despite the wall of fire Salamander concocted. Through the immense heat, Arthur appeared on the other side with steam rising from his carapace. He punched Salamander squarely in the face and sent him flying into a tree and broke it on impact.

“Now, that is what I’m talking about!” cheered Salamander as he stood once more. Blood escaped his nose. “The Fallen Knight! Heed my name because I shall be the first who defeats you.”

“You’re not the first.” Arthur laughed loudly, but his trembling hand betrayed his brave front. The heat had burned most of the outer carapace and melded his clothes into his flesh. The slightest shift of his body sent unimaginable pain throughout his body.

“Who did?”

“As if I’m going to tell you.” His eyes wandered to his sons, fear and tears in their eyes. A subtle nod from him told them what to do next.

“An old man like me was lucky to have you all,” he said to his sons with a confident smile.

He yelled out while Salamander readied himself into a launch. However, Arthur got an upper hand over his enemy. There’s no way he could win, he knew that from the beginning, but what he could do was to give his sons a chance to escape. So he did. Arthur grabbed the log from his earlier fight and tossed it at the soldiers.

Salamander saw through his plan but was too late to stop himself from flying straight to him. ‘No matter’ was what he thought as he buried his blue blade into Arthur’s chest. It pierced his target torso and the tip appeared on the other side.

Arthur’s sons ran without looking back because if they do, all their father's sacrifice will be in vain. It broke their heart to abandon their father like this, but what choices do they have.

Salamander was about to chase after Arthur’s sons, but he was surprised when Arthur, himself, slammed Salamander into the ground and sat on top of him. Fear rose inside him as he saw the smile on his enemy’s face.

“I am Arthur, the Fallen Knight, and you are not the first who defeated me!” Arthur slammed his fists against Salamander repeatedly with what was left of his strength. Blood spewing from Salamander’s mouth.

Beautiful memories of his sons and wife flashed before his very eyes. The face of his earlier opponent appeared; his hope now lies with him. Brightstar.

However, Salamander won’t let himself die here, not at the hand of this old man. He sprouted fire from his mouth which consumed Arthur’s body, but it did not stop him, yet managed to slow him down.

Slowly, Arthur came to a halt. Salamander slid himself out of his grasp and finally was able to catch a breath. Arthur kneeled there, unmoving, and showed no sign of life. All his flesh was burned to a blackened crisp, despite that, a smile was etched permanently on his face.

The remaining soldiers took Salamander away to help with his wound.


I dragged myself to the edge, and with horror, I saw the column of fire from where the hole I came from and many others throughout the city. I tried to stand up through the immense fatigue but stumbled back down.

Ria rushed to me and took hold of my arm. “You need to go to the hospital.”

“No, I need to find Sister. I need to help them.” I tried to stand again but failed.

“You can’t. Not with your condition.”

“Please, I have to make sure. Please…” I turned to Ria with reddened eyes.

“I’m sorry, but you need to go to the hospital.”

“Damn it!” I slammed my fist against the concrete.

After an hour of flight, Ria brought me to the hospital despite my reluctance. At the hospital, they sat me on a chair in the examination room. The same familiar Doc who has been dating my mother took up the job to make sure any injuries I sustained weren't critical. Ria stayed beside me to make sure I didn’t leave without a proper inspection.

“A few nasty bruises, second-degree burns, and a sprained wrist on your left hand. I’ll set you up with a cast. You are in no condition to go to school or play any kind of heavy sport. In the meantime, you should spend the remainder of your day resting.” He wrote it down on his clipboard.

“No can do, Doc.”

“Didn't you hear what I said? If you push too far, your body won’t make it.” Doc pointed his pen at my left wrist.

“I’ll make it work. Are we done? Because I need to go.” My feet tapped against the floor in a rhythm that annoyed Ria.

She uncrossed her arms. “Kenn, take this seriously.”

“I am!” I yelled out without even realizing it. The other me tried to claw out, but after a few deep breaths, my heart began to calm down. I turned to Ria. She was frightened, not at me, but for me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. You need to understand, I have to make sure they are safe. I promised them.”

They are dead.

Because of you!

“Shut up…” I whispered to myself, then took another breath.

“Should I call your mom?” Doc asked.

“No.” Ria stepped forward. I looked at her and found understanding in her gaze. “Don’t tell anyone. Can you walk, Kenn?”

Despite the pain, I stood up while my fingers dug into my palm. “Easy.”

“Do you have any way to contact your handler?”

“My phone.” I reached into my pocket and took it out.

The cracked screen was the least of my concern. I swiped the screen and tapped to call. After putting it near my ear, I waited for the other side to answer. It did, and I heard a subtle sigh of relief coming from the speaker.

{I knew you were fine. I was a bit worried when I saw your tracker went to the hospital.}

“Sister, it’s about what happened.”

{Stop. Not through here. The dock at 10 P.M. I will be waiting.}

The line went dead. I slid the phone back into my pocket and turned to Ria. “Let’s go.”

Ria opened the door and waited outside for me. I took my katana and carried it on my back, then took my mask with me. Before I could leave, Doc stopped me and handed me a small bottle. He looked at me with worry in his eyes. “Two pills. Four-time a day. Think of your mother before you make any rash decision.”

“Thank you, Doc.” I took the bottle and slid it into my pocket.

We left the hospital using Ria's ability to fly. When we arrived at the dock, I told Ria everything I knew. About the serum, E-HAD, Collin, Ironhide, and everything. She took it well at first, but I can tell she was pissed off. We both shared the same anger. This was a conspiracy that involved the higher form of government and I wonder if I can do anything.

I waited for Sister to come while Ria took the time to watch out for any suspicious individual. The sun sunk in the endless horizon while darkness began to creep around us. Two headlights from a familiar van drove toward us. It stopped in front of me, the door opened and revealed Sister.

Ria flew down to meet my handler. “Violet Jet, nice to meet you.”

“Sister, E-HAD agent.” She turned to me. “The HQ went insane after the lair was destroyed. What happened there?”

“Before we go any further…” My hand reached for the katana. “Tell me the truth, can I trust you?”

“What?” She turned to Ria, the girl had taken arm and waited for any sudden movements. “Look, I don’t know what this is about, but have faith in me.”

“Can we trust her?” Ria asked.

“We have to. I got no one else.” I returned my gaze to Sister and removed my hand from my katana. “Arthur told me everything. Ironhide is the source of it all. He made a deal with Honeycomb to help with a serum. He used that failed serum on Collin and turned him berserk. To add fire to the mix, E-HAD was working for them.”

“E-HAD? This whole situation is fubar. No wonder, the High Table personally called me and told me to drop the case. Tell me about the serum.”

“At first it was a fail booster, but their true intention was to create a serum that can give ordinary people power. I think they succeeded.”

“That’s bad. With that kind of serum, there would be only chaos.” She paced back and forth. “We need to tell Bradford.”

“We can’t. If there is a possibility that he is working for Ironhide, then we all will be screwed.”

“No. Not him, never in a million years.” He looked me in the eyes and meant every word she said.

“What makes you so sure?”

Sister paused for a moment before continuing, “He hates Powered after what happened to his family. And if he ever finds out about this, he will bring hell upon them.”

“Damn it, I don’t have a choice, do I?” I paused and contemplated every outcome. “Call him.”

Sister was about to get into the van when something flew by and stabbed her neck. I turned to her as she wobbled and took out a dart from her neck. She looked at it, confused, then back at me. I rushed to her and let her fall into my arms. Ria pulled me along with Sister back into the van.

“What the hell?” Ria asked as she kept herself near cover while taking a couple of peaks outside.

Multiple headlights can be seen heading toward them. I slammed my fist against the van body. Ironhide was coming for me, and they took out Sister. I checked her pulse and breathed a sigh of relief when I felt a pulse. “We need to leave.”

“How do you suppose we do that?”

I turned to the keys in the ignition and back at Ria. “You need to bring her with you. Stay low.”

Ria grabbed my arm. “What about you?”

“I’m going to use the van and distract them. Wait for my light.”

“Are you crazy? No matter what happened, I won't leave you behind.”

I took her by the collar, my grip was trembling as my reddened eyes stared back into hers. “Please…” It was obvious that I was afraid to see her get hurt because of me. Even though I know she felt the same way as I do. However, I had to beg her to leave. It’s the only way.

Out of nowhere, she embraced me. “You owe me a sandwich, don’t you forget it.”

I nodded my head and got ready behind the wheel while Ria prepared herself at the door with Sister. The window of opportunity on this one plan was going to be tight. One wrong move was all it was going to take for them to start chasing after Ria instead of me. I hope everything is going to plan and both of us make it out alive.