Dygen stood above me, looking down in disgust at me with unforgiving eyes. He took a look around the area in search of witnesses. But I had the feeling that no one would come to help me. Even if there were people a few feet out, the dense fog would shield us away from anyone looking in our direction.
"I'm glad to know Hermes wasn't lying when he said he planted a tracker on you. I never thought that fool would be bold enough to do anything useful," Dygen said.
"You worked with Hermes? He hired me to assassinate you," I grunted with half my face on the ground.
"And who do you think told him to do that?"
"You… told Hermes… to hire me... to kill you?"
"I'm glad you're smarter than you look, but I figure there's still much you don't know about. Like this girl here," he gestured to Ava, still in the clutches of the Hunter.
"What do you want with her?"
"It's not what I want with her. It's what I want from her. Her memories contain valuable information, and I need her back."
"Her father wasn't enough?" I said
"What do you mean?" Dygen tilted his head.
"You have her father in the tower. Your headquarters. You got him for finding something out, and she ran away."
"At the tower? I think you have the wrong idea… looks like I will have to spell it out for you. Her father isn't in the Dygen Corp. He never was. He's right in front of me. Ava… is from the future."
"Still confused? She's your daughter, right? You should know. I figured she would've recognized you… seemingly she did," Dygen looked back to Ava.
"She couldn't remember… her memories are blurred. Amnesia," I said.
"Lost maybe, but not erased. I'm not surprised, though. The machine isn't even supposed to be operational. So the unfinished product might've caused some problems for her. Side effects from temporal travel can vary in a number of ways."
Temporal travel? He means time travel… and Ava was sent here in a prototype that blurred her memories. That must've been what the documents were about. The ones she had carried with her. Maybe blueprints of the finished product.
"It still looks like you're lost. I take my compliment back. I'll explain everything. Years from now, I don't know when exactly; I assume a different version of you will get into some conflict with my future self. Ava, most likely a witness, gets sent back to the past through a time machine I have built. But the machine at this time isn't fully functioning but was able to receive her anyway. She runs away with her memory wiped to some degree… but the second after she was sent here, one more item was sent back to the past. A note, written in my handwriting, reading: 'Future Dygen Caught. Kill the girl Ava. Knows too much. And her father… the assassin, Darkstar.'"
Dygen continued, "The girl escapes in this present with no way for me to find her since she's not on the grid. I don't have your real name, but I had your codename: Darkstar. I had this Bounty Hunter track you, 'the assassin,' down. He finds someone who's met you, Hermes, and asks you to come to his club where we originally intended to capture you. But I did give him an instruction-"
"You told him that if he couldn't bring me over, he should offer a job to me… to kill you, all for the Hunter to capture me," I finished.
"Now he gets it."
"But how would you know that Ava would find me?"
"I took a risk, but it was my only choice. I just hoped that she would go home or somewhere you would be. And she did…, and here we are," Dygen smiled.
It all made sense now. Ava ran to her home, but her mother wasn't there because it wasn't her home yet. So she looked around and wandered to the church, to what I assumed was a place I still visited in the future for her to recognize.
"Why are you telling me all this?" I asked.
"It's pointless sure, but I'd rather have a man knowing why he's being killed before I sentenced him to death. And this entire series of events was rather entertaining. Like playing chess."
"Now, I'll have you killed and take Ava back with me to extract her memories. I'd like to know what happens in the future and see if I can avoid it. But, of course, killing you will guarantee that."
"But if you kill me now, it might erase her."
"True, which is why I have my friend here kill you until I give the go-ahead."
This is it. No escape but to face the defeat I always expected. I had brought this on myself, including Ava.
"Just don't hurt her… please. Spare her life," I begged.
"There's no avoiding this. One way or another, she won't exist in the coming future. I can kill her with you now and be done with it. Or she'll be erased once you're gone."
"But there's another. Once you're done with her, you can send her back to her future. She can be with her father. Her real father. You kill me… and that timeline erases, peacefully…."
"You have nothing to bargain with," he laughed.
"I don't… I'm done. I deserve my punishment but spare the girl. She's done nothing wrong… don't let her pay for what I've done or will do."
"Tempting… there's no logical reason for me to listen whatsoever. But I am a father myself, you see; we're alike in that way… fine. I'll do it."
"How can I trust you to keep your word?"
"You don't. You have no other choice. Goodbye, Darkstar." Dygen walked away with the driver from the hovercar coming over to drag Ava. She wailed and punched the driver.
"Why you," the driver raised his hand to slap her.
"Don't hurt the girl. Just bring her over," Dygen commanded, stepping into the car.
"PAPA! Please! Help! Save me!" Ava cried out as she was being taken away.
The hovercar lifted off the ground and flew away into the skies, leaving no trace. All that was left now was me, the Hunter, and fallen tears spread across the empty pavement. Ava's cries cut deep into my soul, bringing an indescribable depression.
"Now you will wait to die," the Hunter lifted me up by my collar and knocked me out with a brutal punch.
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