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The Insurgency: S3 #27 Dancing with the Devil (FB)
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Here is Part 27 in Season 3 of my Insurgency series! It's a long one, but it's also a very important one! A freebuild for the Marauders. Please comment, rate and enjoy!
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Corresponding text underneath each picture.

21st June 2094

Thug #1: "Hey, boss."
Ac'ross: "What is it?"
Thug #2: "The new guy is back. The one you sent to kill Jarred."

Remy Ac'ross tore his eyes away from the incredibly flexible dancer he'd been watching on the stage and stared down at the two thugs stood at the foot of his dais.
Ac'ross: "Just the new guy?"

In answer to his question, moments later, Ghartic limped through the door and over to Remy's platform.
Ac'ross: "What happened?" He growled.
Ghartic: "I tried..." he replied pathetically.
Ac'ross: "So Jarred Zeal still lives?" He questioned, the calm quietness of his tone scaring his men more than shouting ever could.

Ghartic: "Yes." He answered, staring at the ground.

Ac'ross: "GOD DAMMIT!" He let rip, smashing his glass on the ground and making everybody jump. One of the scantily-clad girls who'd been stood by his throne ran away in fear. "You had ONE job!"
Ghartic started to reply, but Remy cut him off.

Ac'ross: "You two, go and watch the cave. I want eyes on Zeal's base at all times. Report back. I want to know when he leaves, where he goes, when he returns... everything. Understood?"

Thug #1: "Yes boss." He replied.
Ac'ross: "Go. Now."
Thug #2: "Yes boss."

Together the two men left Ghartic alone with Ac'ross.
Ac'ross: "I want him dead." He muttered, more to himself than the green-skinned alien.
Ghartic: "Boss..." he began nervously. "On my way here, I heard in town that the Imperium are hunting down prisoners who escaped during the Shift - Jarred told me that he did that! He got out during the Shift! They're offering money too, for information leading to the recapture of a convict."

Ac'ross: "Tell the Imperium..." he murmured, thinking the possibility aloud, wondering if it would be worth his while.
Ghartic: "If we can't take him down, tell somebody else who can, AND get paid for it!" He grinned, pouncing on the opportunity to distract Remy from his own failure.

Ac'ross thought for a few seconds before nodding in reply.
Ac'ross: "Do it." He confirmed. "Get word to the Imperium."

21st May 2097: Present Day

Rosmarie: "There he is. That's Christian." Mrs. Addison explained, pointing to a figure stood right at the forefront of the section of the photo that I had never seen before.

And my heart leapt out of my chest. My mouth opened uncomprehendingly and I just stared in utter shock...

As Mr. Grey himself stood smiling up at me.

Tank: "Oh my God..." I breathed, unable to absorb what I was seeing. Mr. Grey knew my parents?!?!

And more than that! If Both Rosmarie and Franklin Morales were correct, Mr. Grey had been my father's best friend!

I.... I couldn't take this in right now. This was too much!

Rosmarie: "Are you okay?" She checked in response to my exclamation.
Tank: "Um... Yes." I replied blandly, still not having taken my eyes off the image of Mr. Grey stood beside my mother.

Rosmarie: "Are you sure dear? You look very pale."
Tank: "Yes, it's just.... Just..." I couldn't speak. Couldn't get my words out in any coherent order. "I think that this may be important." I finally managed, tearing my eyes away from the image to look at Mrs. Addison. "Please, might I take this?" I asked, indicating to the photograph.
Rosmarie: "If it really is that important, then I suppose you can do. Yes." She confirmed and I thanked her with a smile and an appreciative nod.

Less than ten minutes later, after bidding Rosmarie farewell and with the newly discovered complete image clutched tightly in hand, I leapt back into the Viper and fired up the engines as fast as I could. At the same time, I punched a number into the ship's coms system and waited for a response.

My call was answered and a blue figure of the Archmage of The Collective flickered into life on the dashboard.
Eris: "Tank." She greeted with a smile that vanished as soon as she saw the look on my face. "What's wrong?"
Tank: "I need a favour." I asked. "I need you to locate Mr. Grey for me.

Just a couple of hours later, I brought the Viper into a fast landing on the roof landing pad of the building where Mr. Grey had his office; The same one I'd rescued him from during The Collective war.

I took the elevator down, tapping my foot impatiently as it slowly descended, eager to speak to Grey face to face and demand an explanation. I wasn't even sure what I was going to say. I just needed answers. Why had he been lying to me this whole time? He couldn't even deny it! I had photographic proof!

I didn't have proof about him being my Dad's best friend, but everything else that Mrs. Addison had told me had been right this far, so I had no reason to doubt her. Buy even if she was wrong about that, Mr. Grey, or should I say, Christian Walker, not only knew my mum and dad, but was a good friend of theirs. Good enough for him to be one of 'the regulars'.

No, I needed answers. No more games. No more errands for The Brain. No more deals made and broken. I would ask questions and he would give answers. Plain and simple. And if he didn't, then we were going to have problems.

After what felt like forever, there was a quiet 'ding' and the elevator doors slid open onto level 205. Charging out, I made my way along the corridor in the direction of Mr. Grey's office, striding past statues on pedestals and priceless paintings hanging on the walls.

Through the glass doors ahead of me, I could see the office and my heart fluttered with nerves when I spotted Mr. Grey, Christian Walker, along with a couple of other figures, sitting at the long meeting table at the far side of the room. I was determined that I would find out once and for all what ‘Grey’s’ game was, but that didn't stop me from being nervous as hell as I shoved open the glass door and barged into his office.

Mr. Grey: “…and if The Brain so decides, Mr. Ooven, your operation could benefit greatly. However…” Mr. Grey paused, hearing my footsteps and looked towards me. An expression somewhere between anger and curiosity appeared on his face as I marched over.
Mr. Grey: “I’m afraid that I’m going to have to adjourn this meeting for the present time. Gentlemen, thank you for coming. I trust that you can see yourselves out.”

The men, one of whom I vaguely recognised from the news, a wanted Aurelian, I think, all stood and exited the room, chatting between themselves, leaving only Mr. Grey, who calmly tidied up some papers, before walking towards me.
Mr. Grey: “There had better be a good explanation for your interruption. The Brain will not…” he began but then I cut him off,
Tank: “Christian Walker.”

His face showed how shocked he really was - the first time I'd ever seen him caught off-guard. Pursing his lips, and now avoiding my gaze, he made his way over to his desk and sat down behind it.

In response, I took out the whole image of him with my parents and tossed it onto the desk in front of him. He watched it land and as he took it in, realising what it was that he was looking at, I saw his eyes widen even further.
Tank: "Explain, Christian." I demanded, calling him by his real name.
Mr. Grey: "Tank..." he began.
Tank: "DON'T!" I shouted, cutting off whatever his lie was going to be.

Mr. Grey sighed hard and ground his jaw, clearly deciding what to say.
Mr. Grey: "Okay, look, Tank..."
Tank: "You've lied to me this whole time..." I growled, my anger starting to come through.
Mr. Grey: "Dammit Frank, let me speak!" He snapped and I closed my mouth.

Mr. Grey: "Yes, I knew your parents. That much is clear to you, thanks to this image." He began again, before pausing. He was clearly struggling to work out what to say to me.
Tank: "Just tell the truth! For once in your life!" I pleaded. "Why did you never tell me?"

Mr. Grey: "The Brain forbade it!" He explained and somehow, I knew this would have had something to do with his mysterious boss. "He made me agree never to tell you."
I pursed my lips, absorbing the information.

Mr. Grey: "Frank, I wanted to, I truly did. Every time I've seen you, I've desperately wanted to let you know. To tell you that I was a friend of your parents. When we first met, well... the first time since you've been an adult anyway," That was another piece of information that surprised me - the thought that I had met Mr. Grey before, when I was a child. "When I spoke to you in prison," He continued. "I very nearly told you then. That was the first time that I'd come close to disobeying an order from the Brain. But, I couldn't..."
Tank: "You could have."
Mr. Grey: "No, Frank. You don't understand. When the Brain gives an order, it is not disobeyed. But I wanted to, Frank. Every time."

I didn't know whether to believe him or not. He sounded sincere and yet a part of me refused to believe anything he was saying, simply out of principal. He had lied to me on so many occasions about so many things, I didn't know why I continued to listen to him.

The promise of information from the Brain about my parent's murders was what had kept me coming back until now, but now... I wasn't sure if I could do it any more.

Tank: "You've lied about so much..." I began, unsure of what to say. "Even before. But now this. THIS. About my parents. I agreed to work for The Brain on the condition that you gave me information about their deaths. You told me that The Brain knew the truth and would tell me in exchange for some work - I've long since done enough work for him and still have nothing to show for it and now I learn this. That the ENTIRE time, you were their friend."

Mr. Grey: "Frank, please. I know how much this means to you and I am so incredibly sorry that I had to lie. I wish it could have been another way - any other way, but it couldn't be." He responded and looking at his face, I couldn't help but feel that he was actually being sincere.

Mr. Grey: "Please, Frank. Have a seat." He indicated to a chair on the opposite side of his desk and I realised for the first time that I had been pacing.

With a short sigh, I sat and chewed my lip, unsure of what to say or even think.

Mr. Grey: "Frank, I was devastated when your parents were murdered. They were my friends. Jeremy, your father, was my best friend." He began. "I grew up with Jeremy. We lived on the same street for most of our childhood. We went to school together. When I moved to New York from England when I was eight, your father was the only kid who befriended me. I was the curiosity. The odd one out."

As Mr. Grey, Christian, told his tale, I couldn't help it as my mind drifted, absorbing all of this information about not only his, but my father's childhood. Staring at the desk, I began imagining everything that Grey was describing and couldn't help but smile slightly at the scenes playing out in my head.

Mr. Grey: "Your father protected me from the bullies and we became inseparable. We were in most of the same classes - your father was quite a joker." He told with a reminiscent smirk. "We learnt together and after school, we'd play together. Jeremy's family had a lot more money than mine - we were by no means poor." He added. "But the wealth I have today has come from my own hard work. up, I had none of this. But your father had it all. Money. Toys. Gadgets. You name it"

Mr. Grey: "As we grew, your father and I remained good friends and throughout, he had it all. Still the money, but the toys turned to good looks and the gadgets into girls. He certainly was handsome."
I couldn't help but smirk at that, picturing my dad in his youthful glory days.

Mr. Grey: "He was clever too. Not as smart or as quick to pick things up as I, but still brainy. I suppose, in a way, I was jealous." He admitted. "But I loved him. He was my brother. I would have done anything for him and I know he would have done the same for me. Partners through and through."

Mr. Grey: "Did you know that Jeremy was in a motorcycle accident when he was 28?” He asked, pulling me out of my reverie. I looked at Mr. Grey and nodded. I'd hears the story before from Uncle Barnaby.
Mr. Grey: "Did you know that that's when he met your mother? In the hospital?" Again, I nodded.
Mr. Grey: "Did you know that I was there too?" That I didn't know! My surprised frown obviously answered for me as Mr. Grey continued,
Mr. Grey: "As soon as I heard what had happened, I raced to the hospital and was by his bedside when he and your mother first met." He told and I smiled at the memory.

Mr. Grey: "Jeremy had always had a way with the ladies - unsurprisingly." He added. "Lana was smitten from the word go and surprisingly, so was Jeremy. I could see what was going on. Jeremy let me know he was alright, winked slyly at me and I left them to it." He recalled and I almost laughed aloud. I'd heard the story about them meeting before but never in that much detail.

I caught Mr. Grey smiling to himself at the memory and I knew then that his emotions were genuine.

Mr. Grey: "We spent a good many years as the best of friends. As both our companies grew, we spent a little less time together, but when we did meet up, and that was frequently, I might add, nothing had changed. Of course, by now, Lana was always there as well, so it became the three of us. Your mother was a perfect foil for Jeremy. She was funny, kind hearted and a genuinely lovely lady."

Mr. Grey: "Not for the first time, I was jealous of Jeremy. I'd never been as lucky with love as he. I'd had a few girlfriends in our younger days, but nothing serious. And as we grew, I became too busy for love. I didn't mind though. I was happy for them both and when they were married, I was Jeremy's best man. The day was so lovely. Beautiful blue skies, the sun shining down surrounded by their families and all of our friends."

Tank: "The 'Regulars'." I chimed in, proving that I had done my research.
Mr. Grey: "You've been busy." He commented. "Tell me, who did you speak to?"

At this, I took out my copy of the photograph, the ripped one, and showed it to Christian.
Tank: "Everybody in this picture." I replied before explaining, "I found it in our old apartment." And he nodded to himself.
Mr. Grey: "You went back." He muttered. "I didn't think you would, but it's unsurprising, I suppose."

Tank: "Why is it torn? Was that you?" I queried and for several seconds, there was no reply.
Mr. Grey: "Yes. When I began working for The Brain, I had to erase all traces of my past life - so that included removing myself from any images that I knew existed. This was a favourite photo of both Jeremy and Lana's. They had it displayed rather proudly in a frame in their living room."

Mr. Grey: "Going back into their... your, home," He adjusted, "After their deaths and your arrest, so that I could tear myself out of their favourite photo... I almost couldn't do it." He explained and for the first time it clicked in my mind that he must only have begun working for The Brain after the death of my parents. "But I had to." He continued. "So I'm curious; which of the others had this copy?" Christian asked, holding up the intact picture.

Tank: "Rosmarie Addison."
Mr. Grey smiled slightly to himself as if the answer should have been obvious.
Mr. Grey: "I should have known. Ros' was always taking pictures. Of us, selfies, of others..." he explained. "When I was removing myself from their lives, I asked around to see if anybody had photos of me... Clearly Ros' either was lying or simply forgot."

Mr. Grey: "Frank, the reason I began working for The Brain is the exact same reason you agreed to - answers. The Brain told me that he knew the truth about your parent's deaths and that he would tell me, if I agreed to work for him.

With a wistful sigh, I leant back in my chair and looked past Mr. Grey, Christian, to the huge portrait hanging behind his desk. I remembered seeing it last time, the two faceless silhouettes, shaking hands. The possible meanings were endless, but right now I was too busy to think about a painting. I had decided that it was time for more answers and not more stories.
Tank: "Why didn't you tell me any of this before?" I questioned.
Mr. Grey: "The Brain forbade it, it's as simple as that. As I said, I wanted to so many times, but couldn't. Frank, I held you as a baby, I knew that you were innocent and that you were being framed. I was devastated, a wreck, when your father died and I wanted nothing more than to find the man who did it and make him suffer."
Tank: "Stripe." I named. "How long did you know who killed my parents and you didn't tell me?" I asked, feeling anger rising in my chest.
Mr. Grey: "Not long at all. It was only very recently that The Brain finally told me - very shortly before I then passed the information on to yourself."

If that was true then I felt the anger begin to subside again.

Mr. Grey: "I want justice, just as much as you do. Why do you think I've helped you so much?"
Tank: "Well I'm not sure. I hadn't realised you had." I replied, semi-sarcastically.
Mr. Grey: "Frank - we will find the man who killed your parents. He will pay, and you will go free."

My conversation with Mr. Grey, or Christian, as I now knew him to be called, had given me a lot to think about. The initial revelation that he had known my parents had begun to wear off now, but the amount of detail he went into, the stories he told of my father's early life... I couldn't get over it.

Stood atop the tall, slender tower that housed Mr. Grey's office, I sighed deeply. Leant against the railings, allowing the wind to whip my hair back from my face, I closed my eyes and just concentrated on the moment. Of simply being. I heard another ship come in to land but paid it no heed. Today had been one hell of a day.

Voice: "For someone who gets into as much trouble as you, you look well." A female voice spoke from behind, making me jump.

I turned and found Aurora, Namorian Priestess and warrior walking towards me. She joined me at the railings and gazed out over the city.

Tank: "Aurora." I greeted, slightly taken aback by her sudden appearance. "What are you doing here? How did you find me?" I questioned as I watched the wind blow her high-pulled ponytail back from her head.

It was getting late in the day now and the sun was beginning to set. The low angle of light cast the daughter of the High Priestess in a flowing aura and I was reminded of just how beautiful she was. I had forgotten.

Aurora: "Finding people is what my people have done for longer than we can remember. As for why - I made you a promise." She explained and I couldn't help but frown, trying to cast my mind back to our last encounter, but the only event of note that stuck in my mind was the prophecy that the ancient woman had told to me, one I still hadn't deciphered. 'One as a brother, blamed and chained. One as an enemy, enslaved once again. One to tell truth with their final breath. By the others own hand, they bring their death.'

Aurora: "When you came to Mìilswán, you were looking for answers, searching for a man who had wronged you. I promised that I would do what I could to locate your missing criminal and that I would be in touch once I had done so."

As the porcelain-skinned woman spoke, I began to remember the conversation that we'd had in my guest suite in the Namorian palace and excitement began to grow in my stomach.

Aurora: "Well, I have done as I promised. It has taken longer than I would have liked it to, but I have finally tracked him down."
My eyes widened in surprise.
Aurora: "I know where you can find Zeth Stripe."

The Viper rose from the landing pad and jetted off into the sky, leaving behind the second ship and the white-skinned figure stood beside it.

'Good.' The spy thought, as they lowered their macronoculars. Tank was gone...

My journey was, while smooth, troubled. My mind was in turmoil.

Finally! Finally I had a hard lead on Zeth Stripe - Stripe, because I refused to call him by his Codename 'Darkblade'. No, it was Stripe. A real name. A real man. Not an invincible armour-clad mercenary. He was only human and he could be taken down just as easily as any other. And in actual fact, it wasn't simply a lead. It was real, hard information. His home address. This time, he'd be the one caught off-guard, not me. Not like in March in the interrogation room. And this time, I would get answers. No more riddles. No more playing games. I would ask questions and he would talk. Sing. Scream if needs be. I'd learnt enough from Jarred back in our cave days to know the best ways of torturing somebody. I would do whatever it takes. Whatever was necessary to get answers out of him.

I would find out who hired him to kill my Mom and Dad. And I would find out why. It was time for the truth.

Stripe would confess and I would finally, at long last, clear my name. Frank Foster would no longer be blamed for killing his parents and I would, for the first time since I was ten years old, be a free man.

And on top of that, Stripe would confess to conspiring with The Boss to destroy my parents legacy. The information given to the police - the fake tax information that put a hold to the completion of my parent's statue in New York, would be proven false and their memorial monument would be unveiled.

As I flew over the border into Tarhaven airspace, closing in on Stripe's home, I couldn't help but feel that tonight, everything would change...

The doorbell rang and Zeth Stripe went to answer it. Confused as to who would be calling at this time of night, he opened the door just a crack, to see who it was.

A booted foot kicked the door in on him and he staggered back as Tank burst in.
Tank: "Stripe..." he growled, grabbing the surprised man by the collar. "Time for another little 'chat'..."

The fire escape door slammed wide open onto the roof and Stripe, thrown through it, went sprawling.

Tank: "Not so tough without your armour on, are you." I boasted as I advanced on the fallen mercenary and he scrabbled backwards across the gravelled floor.

Stripe: "I don't know what you're talking about!" He retorted, trying to stand.
With a powerful kick to the stomach, I sent him crashing back down again. He grunted in pain and attempted to roll away but I gave him a shove with my foot and he fell flat on his back.

Tank: "Give it up Stripe. It's over." I informed him as I approached him. "I'm not playing around this time. This time, you're going to give me answers. Without your black suit and fancy gadgets, you're nothing."

Stripe: "What the hell?!" He demanded. "What suit? And who the frack are you?"

Tank: "You know damned well who I am!" I shouted, suddenly kneeling over him and slamming both my fists into his chest. He coughed hard and gasped for air as I grabbed his collar with both hands and heaved him to his feet. "I'm Frank Foster!" I prompted. "Son of Jeremy and Lana Foster. The same Jeremy and Lana Foster that YOU killed!"

With a right hook to the face, Stripe staggered away again, and fuelled with adrenaline, I pursued him.

Stripe: "The Fosters?" He queried, wiping blood from his split lip and finally putting his hands up in a defensive position.
Tank: "Yes. The ones you murdered and framed me for!" I lunged for him but he side stepped faster than I thought possible and brought a fist up into my side, making me stumble slightly.
Stripe: "You're their son? Look, I don't want to hurt you!" He begged.
Tank: "Why not? You killed them!" I retorted as I lunged for him again.

Once more, he side stepped, but this time I predicted it and moved to intercept him. Clearly his skills weren't what they once were. I grabbed him and rushed him backwards, slamming his back into the supportive metal framework that was holding up a billboard.

He groaned in pain, wincing, and tried to throw me off, but a quick jab to the jaw stopped his resistance.
Stripe: "Please!" He begged, raising his palms defensively, but in my rage I struck him again, giving him an eye that immediately began to swell in size.

Tank: "Why, Stripe? Why did you kill them?" I demanded, fist raised, ready to strike my parent's killer again.
Stripe: "Please..." he squeaked and with a snarl I hit him again, right in the cheek.
He started to fall aside, but with my spare hand I grabbed his shirt and held him straight.

Tank: "TELL ME!" I bellowed and struck him a third time, breaking his nose.

Rational thinking had long gone out the window. This wasn't torture. These weren't precise, practiced movements. This was pure adrenaline mixed with my own fury and determination to find out the truth and at last get to the bottom of what had happened.

Stripe: "I didn't!" He claimed as blood began to trickle from his nostril.
Tank: "Liar!" I yelled and smacked him across the face again, this time with enough force to knock him out of my own grip. He collapsed on the floor, before I grabbed him by the hair and he cried out as I hoisted him back up again.

Stripe: "It's true!" He insisted. "I didn't kill them!"
I roared in frustration at the fact we weren't getting anywhere and raised my fist aloft, preparing to punch him once more, but he continued,
Stripe: "Stop!" He begged and I paused, panting from the exertion. "I swear, I didn't kill your parents! I was hired to, but never went through with it!"
Tank: "Liar!" I shouted again. "You were kicked out of The Core! You had the training and I know you did it!"

Stripe: "Let me explain!" He cried, looking genuinely frightened. "Yes, I was Core and yes I was hired to assassinate your parents, but I never carried it out! I knew I was being trailed by the cops for other crimes I'd committed, so I contacted my best friend, another ex-Core member and gave the job to him!" He babbled. "I didn't bother telling the employer. My mate carried out the job, I got paid and passed the money on to him! It was simple! About a WEEK later, I was arrested and sent to prison. I didn't do it, I swear!"

Tank: "I don't believe you!" I growled, refusing to accept the possibility that the Brain might have been wrong and that I'd hunted down the wrong man.

Stripe: "It's true!"
Tank: "No!" I shouted and a punch to his face made his head hit the metal girder behind him. His eyes blurred as his head wobbled and he threatened to pass out, but I shook him back awake.
Stripe: "Please... I'm a family man..." he mumbled, now unable to speak any louder. "I'm with God."
Tank: "You're not. But if you don't confess, you soon will be." I snarled and slammed his whole body back against the framework.

Stripe: "Please... I found religion while I was locked up. I haven't killed in years. When I got out, I found love too. I have a wife. Kids."

Tank: "STOP!" I screamed and used all my strength to throw him away. He skidded across the gravel and came to a stop at the roof's edge. Grinding my teeth, barely containing my rage, I stormed towards where Stripe lay barely moving.

Tank: "You son of a bitch, OWN UP!" I yelled, shoving him onto his back and kneeling over him, his head hanging over thin air. "Stop lying! Tell me the truth, damnit!"
Stripe: "I am." He wheezed, his eyes barely open.

Tank: "Okay," I changed tack. "Who the hell did you swap with then? Who took the job? Who was this friend of yours?" I demanded, but Zeth lay silent. My face contorting in fury, I grabbed him by the throat.
Tank: "TELL ME!!!!!!!!

Stripe: "Jarred Zeal. His name was Jarred Zeal."

My heart stopped and my eyes widened. No. No, that wasn't possible. JARRED?! Jarred killed my parents? I couldn't believe it.... I wouldn't!

Although, everything Stripe had told me added up with stories that both Jarred and Dustin Vorn had told me in the past...

I knew that Jarred had had training, but hadn't expected it to be in The Core. But Dustin had told me Zeth had had a friend in the Core - now I knew who.

Jarred. It had been Jarred the whole fucking time!

My lip began to tremble as the truth settled in.
Tank: "No...." I whispered as my anger, frustration and sorrow rose to boiling point.
Jarred was dead. Shot by the Imperium, right in front of me. That meant I would never get to the truth. I'd never ever find out why my parents had been murdered...

Tank: "NO..." I repeated a little louder, unaware of what I was saying. It was over. Everything I had worked towards - over. I could never get justice for my parents. Their killer was already dead.

Tank: "NOOOO!!!!!!!!" I screamed and after trying to hold them back for so long, my emotions got the better of me.

My fury unleashed itself and my pent up rage was let rip, aimed in its entirety at the man beneath me.

My fists rained down, punch after punch, pummelling Zeth with all my might as I roared a guttural sound unlike any I'd ever made before. My fists, clenched ridiculously tightly, were now covered in blood - his or mine, I didn't know. As the blows connected repeatedly with his face, pummelling it to a pulp, his head rocked back and forth and all the while, I was completely unaware of what I was doing.

And then with a final, audible 'crack', Zeth Stripe's neck snapped and his head hung limp over the side of the building.

The crack brought me out of my rage-fuelled, trance-like state and I paused, panting heavily, covered in blood and with tears streaming down my face. As I knelt there above Stripe's body, with my fist raises high in the air, as the life drained out of him, a scream, coming from somewhere behind me, snapped me fully back into the moment and I began to realise what I'd done.

I'd killed him. Stripe was dead and I literally had has blood on my hands. Stripe - Darkblade, whatever... was no more. Looking at his messed up face, I knew what a terrible mistake I'd made.

Not only had I killed a man with my bare hands, but I also hadn't found out half of the stuff I needed to! Stripe had never told me who hired him or why! Why had my parents been killed? And who had ordered the job?

Now, the only two men who could possibly have given me those answers were both dead. First Jarred and now Stripe.

And besides that, why had Stripe been after me recently? Why had he been so determined to ruin my life? The whole conversation from the interrogation room made no sense! What about working with The Boss and destroying my family's legacy? Why? What had that been in aid of? Again - now I would never get answers and I would also never be able to clear my parent's names! With Zeth now dead and The Boss vanished, the public would forever believe my parent's to be tax dodgers, and there was now nothing I could do about it!

All of this flashed through my mind in barley a second. As I stood, looking down on Zeth's lifeless corpse, I heard another cry from behind me. I turned, in a state of partial shock, and saw two young children, a boy and a girl, stood clutching each other in the fire escape doorway.
Boy: "Daddy?" He shouted, sounding scared. My eyes wide, I looked between the kids and their dead father. In the young boy's face, I saw the same expression I had once worn - when I had found my parents dead on the floor.

Stripe had been telling the truth - he did have a family. And now I'd taken him away from them, just as I thought he had taken mine away from me. I couldn't breathe. My chest was tight and suddenly I began hyperventilating.

And I ran.

I had run down every flight of stairs in the building and then burst out into the street below. If I'd have looked up, I would have seen Stripe's head hanging over the parapet - but I didn't. I was too busy looking around with wide eyes as shock set in.

As I stood on the sidewalk, with wheeled cars passing me by, I became aware of a beeping sound. As my panic began to subside, I realise the beeping was my comlink. I pulled it out and saw it was Cat's number calling.

How was I going to explain this to her?!

I very nearly didn't answer, but, taking a deep breath, I activated the link and a little blue hologram appeared...

A hologram of Darkblade.

Darkblade: "Tank." He began, stood with his arms out to the sides, out of view. "I told you we were not done."

What?! I didn't believe what I was seeing! How was he alive?! Was Stripe not Darkblade after all? Had I jumped to conclusions? And why was he on Cat's comlink?!

Tank: "Darkblade..." I whispered, unable to make any other sound.
Darkblade: "I promised I would take everyone from you." He reminded. "And that starts tonight." He growled and pulled his arms in, revealing two women, unconscious and on their knees.

Cat and Aurora.

Darkblade: "You can't save them both. Hell, you can't save either of them." He continued, taunting me. "But I dare you to try. Oh and don’t even think about bringing one of your super-powered friends, like last time. If you don’t come alone, you won’t even have a chance to say goodbye to these lovey ladies."
Tank: "Where are you?" I growled, my anger returning. He had my girlfriend and another woman I cared for in his clutches. He needed stopping.
Darkblade: "The old Knightborn West rail shuttle station, on the border with Illbliss. Come and save them...

If you can."


The set for Mr. Grey's office.

The set I used for a couple of the flashback scenes of young Christian and Jeremy.

The flashback hospital set.

The flashback wedding set.

The rooftop set and the little sets for the street.

N.b. Druki Ooven by Werewolff.

As my series is going to be jumping around though time, I will include a date on each episode and add it to the timeline at the end of each episode so that you can follow it.



 I made it 
  June 1, 2017
Quoting Astra Bounty Hunter Awesome! Well, that was unexpected!
Yup! Thank you kindly! --Blast--
 I made it 
  June 1, 2017
Quoting Droid Commander Battler Oh my.... :O WOW! Twist after twist!
Indeed! Thank you Battler! --Blast--
 I made it 
  June 1, 2017
Quoting Werewolff . Ha! Yes! Fan-theory was correct, though as Jack said I thought Jarred was actually a fake name as well. Fantastic episode, as always, and the image quality and diversity in this was one excellent! Also, thanks for the shout-out! I'm sure the Black network will appreciate it! :D
Haha! Thanks 'Wolff! --Blast--
 I like it 
  June 1, 2017
Awesome! Well, that was unexpected!
 I like it 
  June 1, 2017
Oh my.... :O WOW! Twist after twist!
--R.K. Blast--
 I like it 
Jack Brickton
  May 31, 2017
Wow. This was possibly the best episode I've seen so far! The scene with Mr Grey/Christian was awesome and very well written. And I had a feeling Jared was involved in this. But that was a big surprise with Stripe being innocent (I had assumed that Jared had lied about his real name and he was stripe. :P ) I can't wait to see what happens next!
 I like it 
  May 31, 2017
Ha! Yes! Fan-theory was correct, though as Jack said I thought Jarred was actually a fake name as well. Fantastic episode, as always, and the image quality and diversity in this was one excellent! Also, thanks for the shout-out! I'm sure the Black network will appreciate it! :D
 I made it 
  May 31, 2017
Quoting Jonathan Demers Great episode! How did you get Darkblade on the hologram?
Thanks! I used photo editing software. Took the pictures of Darkblade, took the pictures of Tank with the blue hologram and then edited them together. --Blast--
 I made it 
  May 31, 2017
Quoting Jack Brickton Wow. This was possibly the best episode I've seen so far! The scene with Mr Grey/Christian was awesome and very well written. And I had a feeling Jared was involved in this. But that was a big surprise with Stripe being innocent (I had assumed that Jared had lied about his real name and he was stripe. :P ) I can't wait to see what happens next!
Glad you enjoyed it all so much! There's still a lot to come! --Blast--
 I made it 
  May 31, 2017
Quoting Traykar the swift Great googly moogly, you murdered him! At least I know that my debunked fan theory from a while back was right.
Haha Indeed! --Blast--
 I like it 
  May 31, 2017
Great episode! How did you get Darkblade on the hologram?
  May 31, 2017
Great googly moogly, you murdered him! At least I know that my debunked fan theory from a while back was right.
By --R.K. Blast--
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