Chapter 5:

Fireworks

Aftershock


The sentry station had its own street corner. Around the main building was a high fence, the entire area well lit by street lamps and lights on the building itself. The main gate was guarded by two seven foot tall bipedal machine frames, with sentry drones plugged into them acting as central processing units. Each machine had two arms, and was equipped with a back mounted stun cannon that would slide up to the shoulder when activated. Jax also noted from his perch atop a building that a few drones were scanning around the building itself. Probably because of his stunt two days ago. The paint had been cleaned but security was still heightened. Originally Jax had intended to wait until the end of the week before coming back to plant charges. But now that he was here he had to find a way to work around it.Bookmark here

He couldn’t do what he had last time, he wanted to get to the base of the station, and he wasn’t confident that his powers would protect him from that fall. Plus now there were the drones, he had avoided them last time because they hadn’t really been looking and he had still gotten caught. Now they were actively scanning for intruders, he’d have to deal with those somehow. He eyed the fence, the station was surrounded by a sidewalk, there were a handful of people milling around in the surrounding area but if he was fast enough, he could feasibly jump the fence without any of them seeing him. If he timed it with the drone sweep, he’d have a good window to plant the charges.Bookmark here

“Alright, looks good.” he walked over to where he’d left his bag and pulled out a makeshift grappling hook. He could get up buildings pretty easily on his own, getting down was still a work in progress. He rappelled down, using some energy so he didn’t lose his grip. Once he was on the ground he pulled his hood and face mask up and slung the duffle bag over his shoulders like a backpack. This alleyway pointed towards the station, and the fence surrounding it. It was too close to the gate though, he’d have to run to the side. That, and he would need to time it with the drone sweep. If he ran too early then he’d be seen.Bookmark here

He settled into a runner’s stance, counting the seconds in his head. He charged up steadily as the time passed. He had timed the routine of the sweeping drones. He would have to run a few seconds before the opening, he kept his mental image of the station and the drones in front of him. Moving them second by second. The energy in his chest swirled violently, egging him on. He held it back, the pressure swelling, just a few more seconds.Bookmark here

One, Two, Three-Bookmark here

He looked up, there weren’t any people in his way that he could see.Bookmark here

Four, Five, Now!Bookmark here

In an instant he channeled the energy to his legs and burst forward. Leaving a trail of small arcs behind him. He was moving too fast to react to what he saw, he crossed the street in a single breath then broke right, moving down the fence to his entry point. There was a couple in his way, instinctively he channeled more energy down to his legs and jumped, his insane momentum carrying him over and past them. He was airborne now, about level with the top of the fence, its sharp spikes sticking straight up. He saw where he needed to be, but if he waited to hit the ground he’d miss the window, he had to move himself through midair somehow, think, think!Bookmark here

He brought his hand out to the side and sent a blast of energy through it. There was a loud crackling and a pop as the bolt of energy arced out of his hand, the backlash sending him crashing into the top of the fence and scraping over it. Jax felt a sharp pain in his arm before he hit the ground and was sent rolling into the wall of the station. He didn’t make a sound, clenching his teeth against the pain.Bookmark here

He waited, he heard the couple he’d jumped over speaking, but the ringing in his ears prevented him from understanding whatever it was they were saying. He waited a couple seconds, then a couple more. Once a minute had passed with him laying crumpled against the wall he slowly rolled over, nearly yelping when he pressed against his arm. He forced himself to sit up against the wall. The sentries passed overhead, sweeping the area nearer to the fence. His guess that the station itself was a blind spot had been correct, awesome. Now he didn’t need to worry about getting taken just yet.Bookmark here

He looked himself over, poking and prodding. Nothing was broken probably? Everywhere hurt a lot, but it was pretty much the same overall. Except for his right arm, which had a nasty looking gash in it. He didn’t have any bandages with him, and he wouldn’t really know what to do if he did have them anyway. The cut looked bad, but it wasn’t super deep, and the arm still worked, so he would just continue the plan, it was the best way of getting out of here anyway.Bookmark here

Pulling the bag off his back, he checked on the explosives. Nothing broken, awesome. He wasted no time in getting to work. The way the devices were set up, all he needed to do was press them against a surface, press a button and they would stick and arm themselves. The plan was to set them up around the base of the building, then set them off once he was far enough away. They were rigged to go off sequentially, so he just had to set one of them off himself and the rest would get the signal.Bookmark here

Setting the charges was actually pretty easy, none of the patrolling sentries were scanning near him and there weren’t any people or dreamers coming or going from the building. The place was mostly just for maintenance and the majority of that was all automatic. He was probably the only person here, which was perfect because despite his destructive purpose, he didn’t want to kill anyone.Bookmark here

After setting the last charge, Jax went to check the time on his holoband. When he brought his bloody arm up he noticed for the first time that the device wasn’t there on his wrist. Surprised he looked around for it, finding it charred and mangled near where he had first landed.Bookmark here

“Well damn that,” he muttered, putting the very broken holoband in his bag. “I’m gonna have to get a replacement.” he waited for another opening in the patrol and quickly leapt over the fence. Thankfully there weren’t any people close enough to see this time.. He dashed back across the street and finally let himself relax once he made it back to that alley. Leaning against the wall he closed his eyes and felt all the aches and pain in his body. Through the pain, a single thought forced itself to the surface. His father’s words, “Think it through.”Bookmark here

Now that the anger and adrenaline had run its course, Jax realized the full gravity of what he was about to do. “Am I really about to do this?” he muttered, reaching into the bag and pulling out the last charge, holding it in his bloody arm. The trigger, this one was harmless, meant to burst into bright colors as a signal for people in the area to run. If he just channeled enough power it would go off in ten seconds. Then, boom. But what would happen after that?Bookmark here

Jax had never stopped to think about what could happen after that. Now that he was here… he didn’t know. Thinking about what would happen next gave him pause. Would this change anything? Would it do any good? Maybe…Bookmark here

“There you are!” a hand grabbed Jax by his wrist, instinctively he dropped the charge and pulsed, sending a wave of energy through his body and grabbed his attacker with his good hand, yanking them deeper into the alley and shoving whoever it was against the wall in a single motion.Bookmark here

Kyoka stared back at him, wearing a dark red jacket and a cap. Pain and anger both very clear on her face. Shocked, Jax dropped his charge and stepped back, hands up. Bookmark here

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” He said, panicking.Bookmark here

“What the hell was that!?” Kyoka snapped back at him, rubbing her wrist where he’d grabbed her.Bookmark here

“I-I’m so sorry,” Jax repeated, stammering. He stepped closer to check that she was okay. Freezing when she slapped him in the face.Bookmark here

“Jackson what in the goddamn shadow of dream world have you been doing!?” she grabbed him by the hoodie and pulled him in. There wasn’t much difference in their heights but somehow she seemed so much bigger at that moment.Bookmark here

“First you don’t show up to school without saying anything to anyone, then you don’t answer any of my messages or calls! Forcing me to come out and scour the entire damn city for you, and when I finally find you skulking in an alley covered in blood you attack me!?” She was shouting as quietly as she could.Bookmark here

“I–I didn’t. You-” Jax stuttered.Bookmark here

“And another thing!” she interrupted, “Why are you skulking in an alley covered in blood?” Bookmark here

“Sorry…” Jax said, lowering his head, “Are you ok?”Bookmark here

Kyoka huffed, “No Jackson, I am not ok. I spent all day after school looking for you only to find that no one had seen or heard from you, AND,” she raised her arm to show the patch of red that was forming, “After doing all that you shock me. What is going on with you?” She let go of his shirt leaning back and rubbing her temple. “I noticed something was off the other night at the concert, but you left so quickly, I figured I could just ask you today at school then you just completely vanished! I’m a lot of things right now, but ok is not one of them.”Bookmark here

Jax looked up at her, “It’s just been hard with-”Bookmark here

Suddenly the fire was back in Kyoka’s eyes and she grabbed his hoodie again. “If you lie to me I swear I’ll plug you into one of the spiders myself. Do you understand me?”Bookmark here

He nodded quickly, “I was going to blow the station.”Bookmark here

Her grip went slack, “You… were what?”Bookmark here

He gently pulled her hand off him. “I’ve been planning it for a couple weeks. That’s why I wasn’t at school. My dad found out and we talked, after that I went out to clear my head. Wound up back here.”Bookmark here

From the look she was giving him, she definitely didn’t think he was lying. So he continued. “I was literally just talking myself out of it.”Bookmark here

Kyoka snorted, “The fact you thought that was the problem. Jax, have you seen yourself? You look like shit. Half of you is covered in blood, the other half isn’t doing much better, you were leaning halfway out an alley holding what was quite obviously a bomb. What went through your thick skull to bring you here?!”Bookmark here

“I was mad, okay?!” His sudden shout caught them both off guard, “I’ve grown up knowing that I don’t matter as much as someone else just because I was born with less. They own me, Kyoka! I understand this was a bad idea, but what I don’t get is how everyone is so fine with living like this!” He grabbed the charge off the ground, needing something to squeeze. Bookmark here

“I’ve spent the last nine years having to deal with nightmares of when my mother died! She was killed in front of me, and my dad got saddled with the bill for an accident he didn’t even cause!” He started pacing, “Now we live at the bottom, always overshadowed by that damn tower because some rich asshole couldn’t be bothered to pay for her mistake!” Jax stared out at the station, he had unconsciously moved to stare out at the building, holding the trigger in his hand. Bookmark here

“Why shouldn’t I light the whole damn place on fire?”Bookmark here

Kyoka didn’t respond. She knew about the accident, but Jax had never talked about it. He avoided the subject whenever it was brought up. She wanted to say something to comfort him, but what could she say? She had always lived in the lower districts, living here was something she had grown up doing. Jax had been sent here, that wasn’t something she could speak to easily. Bookmark here

Jax trembled slightly, the anger warmed him from the inside like its own source of power. Eventually, it cooled, and his breathing even out. Why was he yelling? It wasn’t Kyoka’s fault, it was the founder’s, the city’s fault. He shouldn’t take it out on her.Bookmark here

He was about to turn and apologize when he heard the sound of a dream transport. He ducked back into the alley’s shadow while it pulled up. The large vehicle stopped in front of the station, and someone stepped out. Jax focused on the newcomer, it was a woman wearing the dark blue of an architect. She stepped up to one of the large machines guarding the door, and the lighting from the station gave Jax a clear view of her face. Unfortunately, he recognized her. Bookmark here

The only other time he’d seen her she had been wearing a dress, but he had never forgotten that face. The small amount of power in his chest pushed through his body before he knew what he was doing. He felt the charge crack in his hand at the same time a loud beep sounded from the detonator. Kyoka noticed the sound too.Bookmark here

“Jax, what did you just do?”Bookmark here

He didn’t answer quickly throwing the bomb as far as he could then flaring his powers, charging as much as he could in four seconds before running back and lifting Kyoka off her feet and blasting off down the street. Every single ounce of power was in his legs, but even at the speed he was running they heard the loud pop of the fireworks. Followed by a moment of silence, then…Bookmark here

BOOM.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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