Shindo and Yata approached the house in silence. The closer they got towards the house, the clearer it's poor foundation became for anyone to see. The windows of the first floor revealed the open and empty house, but Batoon was nowhere to be seen.
"Yata, a moment please," Shindo called to his examiner as he adjusted his visor, priming it's scan function.
"Hmm?" Yata said in an uninterested manner. He seemed intently focused on the building; his left hand was twitching… no it was shaking.
"Well, you have an interesting footwork. I could barely hear you when we were walking towards the house. Are you used to stealth and recon?"
"Yeah, that's my specialty." Yata answered dryly, still focusing on the building. The cat hero started to grit his teeth.
Shindo didn't know what was going through his mind, but this disinterest and anger grated on Shindo's nerves.
"Well, good." Shindo replied amicably. He couldn't afford a fight with Yata now. “If you could, please don’t enter the house right now. I'm still trying to formulate a plan."
Yata nodded at Shindo absentmindedly, but he doubted the cat hero heard him. As they spoke, his hand had curled up into a fist, while his face darkened with anger.
Yata's issues aside, for him to claim stealth as his specialty was good. With the Yata's help, they should be able to sneak in through one first floor windows, and in Shindo's opinion, check the second floor for the hostages. That would be the most obvious place to put the hostages, since the rooftop was safeguarded by piano wires.
That's where the window in the back came into play. It was their best escape option. Since it was cracked, it was easier to break from the inside and it doubled as a way to avoid Batoon. A win-win.
After all, avoiding Batoon was of utmost imperative for Shindo, and for two good reasons: Even though he had seen how Batoon fought against Lozen, this didn’t tell Shindo anything. He didn't know his opponent's power, and that was a major risk in this exam.
Shindo nodded to himself, satisfied with the plan, and turned around to discuss his options with head and then looked around for Yata. However, Yata was nowhere to be found. Where was he?
He frantically scanned the exam site for Yata until he saw the hero entering the house through the front door. What was he thinking? His rash move may have cost Shindo the exam! That idiot didn't even consider speaking with Shindo in the first place!
Shindo cursed under his breath. By now, three minutes have passed, and if Yata's words were to be believed, he could've gone to any room in the house with his expertise by now.
The ex-villain’s mind went into overdrive, trying to solve this crisis. Assuming his deductions of the hostages' location were right, what Shindo needed at the moment was an entrance with easy access to the second floor. The window in the back was closed off in a small room, with no sight of the stairs. So that was not a good option right now.
However, his preparations weren't for naught. As he was surveying the house, Shindo had found that there was one window on the left side of the house. It had easy access to the stairway inside, but it exposed Shindo to a bit of an open area.
With only thirty-five minutes to spare, and no other option left, Shindo dashed straight to the left side of the house. His priority right now was to find Yata quickly, get out as fast as possible with the hostages, and minimize contact with Batoon. He could only hope that Yata hadn’t engaged in combat.
In a quick motion, Shindo destroyed the hinges holding the window and entered the house. He quickly drew out two darts from his belt, and gave a quick scan of his surroundings with his visor. There weren't any visible threats on the first floor, but the scans showed Shindo five human-like figures on the second floor.
The first three were situated on the left side of the stairway. From their weird, floppy poses, Shindo assumed that those were the hostages. The other two more natural-looking figures were on the right, facing each other off. Yata had already found Batoon.
Clicking his tongue, Shindo ran up the stairs. He was welcomed by a cramped hallway with two doors on each side. However, a familiar growl stopped him in his tracks.
"—at you did!" Yata growled. Shindo took a peek and saw that the cat hero had his back facing him. His left fist was trembling, and his body was tense. He seemed prepared for something. On the other hand, Batoon was on one end of the hallway. He had his arms crossed and was leaning by the end of the hallway, however there was a cold grin plastered on his face.
"I didn't do anything," Batoon shrugged, "However, I do have some things to say to you."
Yata remained still, but his breathing quickened. Batoon smiled eerily. "Your boss abused me this morning, I bet you want to finish what she started?"
This exchange took Shindo by surprise. Were they talking about the camera footage Diva showed him earlier?
"Bullshit!" Yata spit. "You hurt her! She had bruises all over her stomach!"
"Well, she deserved them!" Batoon's face had lost its smile. "She, along with your entire team, underestimates this line of duty with your antiquated sense of justice!"
"What antiquated sense of justice? All we have done is do our job!" Yata's tone dropped. "However, what have you, or HOC, done for us? When we were at our worst you kicked us down, elevating yourselves to a position you don't deserve!"
"We do deserve it!" Batoon rebutted. In anger, his hands balled into a fist. "We, who struggled through That Night deserve that position more than anyone!"
"She also lost something in That Night too! Are you denying the suffering she's been through? That suffering you've extended to those who don't use their powers? To me? To other heroes?"
Batoon prepared a stance, "And with what right do you have to speak about suffering? You yourself killed a hero in cold blood before!"
"Don't you dare bring that up!" Yata snarled, while lowering his body.
"How could I not? You, a hero killer, is defending an abuser! Ironic." Batoon giggled mockingly. "I bet you became an examiner just to kill me!"
This irked Yata, as he took a small step forward. However, Batoon beat him to the punch, stretching his arm towards Yata.
"Damn it!" Shindo cursed aloud. He tackled the cat hero just as Batoon’s punch stretched to the other end of the hallway, stopping right before the wall.
"What the hell are you doing!" Yata directed his eyes at Shindo.
Shindo helped the cat hero stand as Batoon's hand started to retract back. "Saving you, that's what!"
Yata glared at Shindo for a bit, before pushing him away. "This is personal. Please don't get in the way."
He then flared up, grabbing Batoon's retracting arm. “You asked for it.”
Shindo's eyes widened a bit. No! He needed to stop the fight from escalating! Confronting Batoon was a risk! The worst of risks!
"Yata, please stop. We nee—."
He tried to reach for Yata's shoulder, but in a sudden movement the cat hero released Batoon's arm and grabbed Shindo's arm, instantly throwing him towards Batoon. The other hero kicked Shindo right in the stomach and out of the way. He then charged straight towards Yata.
All the air left Shindo’s lung as the impact sent him straight through the wall and into the floor. His entire body was aflame with pain, although the armor helped mitigate it a bit. His back screamed at Shindo minutes after he landed. Still, the pain he felt was nothing to the anger he had. Did they really underestimate him that much?
Groaning a bit, Shindo started to breath out his pain, and slowly but surely, he regained his footing. Finally standing up, he checked himself for broken bones, and thankfully none were broken. The armor had done it’s job well. He then brushed a bit of dust off his leg and checked the time on his visor. He had around twenty-five minutes left to finish this exam.
Now then, how was he going to get to the hostages with the two of them fighting in the middle? Should he try brute force? No. Forcing his way through wasn't an option. His gadgets could harm the hostages. Then, should he guide them elsewhere? No, that too was a bad option. It would be a risky move when considering the bad infrastructure of the house.
Seeing as there were no obvious options at the moment, Shindo decided to study the fight. He took another peek from the hole he came from, intent on gaining something.
The first thing he saw was Batoon's power. The man could constantly change the size, thickness and capabilities of his body. This resulted in a mid to close-range ability with a lot of versatility. With each extended punch he gave, it was clear he had a certain territorial advantage from his position.
On the other hand, Yata kept gracefully dodging each blow by using the walls to aid him. The movements reminded Shindo of an acrobat, with how flashy they were. However, there was a certain deviousness about his footwork, almost like a cat stalking prey.
"Give up!" Batoon howled as he threw another punch. The punch rebounded from the walls, zigzagging towards Yata.
"Never!" Yata dodged again by using the wall on his left to extend his jump land safely. He then struck Batoon's arms thrice with his wooden knife.
Batoon retracted his arm, managing to scratch Yata's arm with his nails. Yata winced at the wound, but readied himself for another attack.
At this rate, they would both end in a stalemate. Batoon was making a pained face, but it didn't seem to be from the bruises Yata gave him. It seems, his powers were taking a toll on him. On the other hand, Yata seemed hesitant to do something. He was clutching his left wrist, where his silver bracelet seemed to be causing him harm.
Seeing this as an opportunity, Batoon attacked the cat hero. He thrust his palm forward, managing to slap Yata to the end of the hallway. He sailed for a bit and crashed into a wall, where a hollow sound echoed through the room.
Shindo's ear perked up at that sound. Of course! With the poor foundation of the house, there's bound to be some hollow walls!
This finally narrowed down his ideas to one. Slowly, Shindo took out an RTC controller and spun the top twice. Cold air started to seep from the gadget, and the letter T had a faint blue glow. Now, he only needed to wait for an opportunity.
His eyes went back to the battle, where Yata shrieked in pain from another punch. However, Batoon wasn't over. He stretched his other hand, which clasped onto Yata's neck, pushing him straight to the hallway’s wall. Then, he started to walk straight at him, until he stood right in front of his enemy.
"Give up." Batoon said coldly. A hint of enjoyment escaped his voice.
Yata forced out a laugh. He then spat on his shoes, angering the cartoon hero. It was at this very moment that Shindo took action. In a quick motion, he stuck the RTC to the other end of the hallway and then counted to five. Shindo hid as fast as he could from the controller as the coldness kept spreading around the gadget erratically. Soon after, a pillar of ice extended out from the top of the small pyramid.
If they were going to fight, they would do it outside.
Shindo barely managed to dodge it, but the controller did it’s job. The two heroes didn't have time to react, as the body of ice approached them in mere seconds. It shoved them straight off the house and through the hollow wall, managing to release Yata from Batoon's choke.
Leaving the pillar of ice intact, Shindo checked his visor to see that eighteen minutes remained. He was half-sure Batoon would not come for him, as he seemed enthralled in his own conflict.
A small wry smile graced his face. It truly has been a long time since a hero had angered Shindo. Let alone two. Damn right he would finish that secondary objective. He would go down there and give them a real reason to be pissed off.
But before revenge came the main objective. The ex-villain strolled through the hallway, managing to pick up the three hostages by himself. Once they were secured, he effortlessly climbed to the top of the ice pillar and started making his way towards the hole.
- The Wanderer
To the few who found me, Hi! Y'all can call me LJ, and if you really want to know about me, I'm just a simple guy with a tiny case of wanderlust. Whenever I am not finding new places to satiate my wanderlust, I sit down and enjoy diving into books and my own writing.
Other things I enjoy are coffee, comics, manga, and guitar-centered songs. As full of quirks as I am, I live a pretty regular life, where I have half my mind busy thinking of work and school.
Through some of my adventures I've learned of RoyalRoad, and I have enjoyed every curious world I've stumbled on to through this platform. It is through these worlds that I was inspired to write my own.
Now, I try to keep my writing as focused and engaging as possible, for my deepest desire is to give the readers a good time.
Soooo, If you want a simple mate to join your sword hacking adventures, or have someone to kick back and read with, or simply enjoy a bit of poetry and the whatnots of writing, here I am.
- Gadgeteer (The Crisis Nemeses book 1): 1 chapter every Saturday.