The Sidekick

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Chapter 14 - Showdown

The roof hummed with energy. Being closer to it than before, Jet saw the full scale of the Chaos Energy Pylon that Xanor had brought downtown. Almost identical in design with its rod-like structure and the tree triangular stands, it dwarfed the other one by at least twenty feet. Instead of the blue electricity of before, purple and green electricity crackled out of it and danced in the sky, creating an ominous glow all around them.

The building they stood on must have taken up roughly a city block, making a large space for them to fight in. The buildings on either side of them were larger by several stories, with two-way two-lane streets separating them.

Mixed with the wind from the higher altitude, Jet’s sweater and hair blew almost violently around him as the noise was deafening. Apprehension gripped Jet for only a moment, but he pushed through and swallowed hard. He knew it was the moment to back up everything he had been saying.

Jet sheathed his sword as he stood up fully. As much as he knew Siege was joking when he asked if Jet would talk villains into submission, he figured he should at least try and negotiate with Xanor first. Maybe it had just been because it was a funeral, but Xanor seemed reasonable enough when they last spoke. It may not have been too late to try and end this without further violence.

Or Xanor would just sucker punch him and kill Jet instantly. It was a gamble.

“Xanor!” Jet called out as he walked across the roof. Despite the noise, his voice rang out true over the cacophony.

Xanor’s shoulders heaved up and down with an audible sigh, a weight descending upon him. But he didn’t turn to acknowledge Jet.

“Come on, this can end without anyone getting hurt. Namely you,” Jet kept going.

Jet was roughly ten yards away from Xanor, and still Xanor did nothing. Jet grimaced and his eyebrows furrowed.

“Prove you’re better than me since you’re so convinced! Do the right thing here!” Jet shouted.

That finally grabbed Xanor’s attention. He turned to face Jet, scowling at the youth. Jet didn’t back down, his face resolute. They locked eyes for several moments, neither backing down.

“The right thing? I suppose you mean joining forces and stopping the gangs together?” Xanor asked. “I suppose you mean finding the solution where no one is hurt?”

Jet finally broke gaze as he rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders.

“I mean...is that such a bad sounding thing to you? The idea that no one has to suffer?”

Xanor scoffed and shook his head.

“No, it sounds perfect. Ideal,” he calmly said.

“But this isn’t a world of ideals. It’s a world of truths, and the one fundamental truth is we can’t stop suffering, we can’t stop pain! All we can do is try and aim it, direct it away from the people who matter most to us,” Xanor finished.

“But that’s not the truth,” Jet responded as he looked down. His eyes went up to Xanor again.

“We can’t stop pain and suffering. But everyone should matter to us,” Jet said. “I might like or love some people more than others, but everyone matters. Friends, families, strangers. Even the gangs, and even you.”

“It’s when people like you and the gangs decide that what matters most to you is more important than anyone else that we have crap like this,” Jet gestured out to Hero Plaza. “If you’re so convinced you’re right, that this is the only way to keep people safe, then you’re blinding yourself. You don’t want to accept what you’re doing because you would know its wrong!”

Xanor took a step forward.

“You don’t know what I’ve done!” Xanor shouted. “You’re a child! You don’t know what I’ve done to keep this city safe! You don’t know what I’ve sacrificed to accomplish this! I have given all of myself to this cause because I truly believe it is right, and every day I feel that suffering! I know what I’m doing to the people of this city but because of me at least they’re safer than before I began.”

“They might hate me, might despise me, but I’m saving them,” Xanor continued through gritted teeth. “I don’t need to be lauded or loved for it. I am doing the best I can for this city and I will not have a child tell me what I’m doing is wrong!”

“And there it is,” Jet replied calmly, a small smile on his face.

Xanor was taken aback at the calmness of Jet’s statement. The teen closed his eyes for a moment and let out a small breath.

“Look, I’m not the smartest guy around. I don’t have plans for how to fix this city, or the world, or anything like that. Some days I think it’s a miracle I tie my shoes together. But I know the difference between right and wrong,” Jet said. “And I also know now that the line is sometimes blurred. So if someone was to tell me I was wrong, I at least listen.”

Xanor’s eyebrows furrowed.

“I have listened. I had to learn to listen. I listened to Paladin’s lectures. I listened to my Uncle Quinn. And I’ve listened to you,” Jet said. “A lot of what you said I’ve disagreed with. But it’s pushed my convictions, and showed me what it is I need to do. Because I’m here to say now, you’re not wrong.”

“You did what you thought was best. And I don’t know what you’ve sacrificed to do it, but it must have been a lot to make you such a dick. But maybe you’re right, maybe because of you, the city is in a better place than it was before it started. But listen to me like I’ve listened to you,” Jet ramped up.

He left a long pause in the air as the two stared at each other.

“This world is a good one. It deserves better than this. And you can do better,” Jet concluded.

“Enough!” Xanor shouted. “If you want to prove so badly what an amazing hero you are, I’ll give you that opportunity!”

Xanor spread his arms outwards and looked upwards. Chaos energy rippled from the sky. As the electricity in the air heightened, it began to swirl in a circular pattern. As it sped up the colors began to solidify, and Jet watched as seemingly grey ash, much like the ash the Constructs dissolved into, began to float downwards from a funnel of clouds to surround Xanor. Much like the energy in the sky it spun in a circle around Xanor, and as more and more of it descended it started to obscure Jet’s view of Xanor. It seemingly started to solidify itself around Xanor. As Jet watched, he could see brief flashes of Xanor’s face between streaks of the ash.

“I will show you how much better I can be. When I kill you for the world to see, the heroes, the gangs, everyone will remember their place in my city!” Xanor proclaimed.

For a short moment, the ash slowed down its circular motion. The moment it stopped, it seemed to hang in the air. Then like it was magnetized it snapped inwards towards Xanor with blinding speed. Jet almost lurched, thinking for a moment there had been a mistake, that Xanor had suddenly killed himself.

However, Jet then watched as the ash transformed into a gold suit of armor that encased Xanor. It made Xanor look almost twice the size as before, with a thin etched black design that swirled all over the armor. The helmet was round, with three black lines on each side of it that ran horizontally inwards towards the nose. In each hand was a long golden blade, not quite as big as Jet’s blade but they were still alarmingly big. Then Jet watched as from it’s back spurted four, angular golden metal wings, and Xanor raised from the ground, floating in the air with both swords at the ready.

Jet looked up at Xanor, and slowly unsheathed his sword. The two continued to lock gazes, Jet now unable to see Xanor’s eyes but he knew they were still under that helmet somewhere. He shifted his stance, and then snapped his sword into a fighting stance.

“Let’s go,” Jet muttered.

As a blur Xanor swooped in. Jet had a moment to bring his sword up and block the incoming attack. They clashed, Jet resolute as Xanor crashed into him. Xanor continued to push, and Jet felt his feet sliding backward as Xanor pushed. The armored villain pushed Jet across the building as Jet attempted to dig in his heels. Jet had a moment to look over his shoulder and saw the edge of the building.

Thinking quickly, Jet leaned backward as he disengaged his sword. It resulted in Xanor flying over the top of Jet, zooming past him. Jet quickly stood back up as Xanor banked to the right and then flew back in at Jet. Jet braced himself, and as Xanor swooped in for another attack, Jet was seemingly braced for another push. But it was a feint as Jet sprang up into the air, over top of Xanor. Jet swung his sword downward, colliding with Xanor’s back. The force slapped Xanor into the ground and sent him rolling.

Jet landed and sprinted towards Xanor. Xanor quickly stood to one knee as Jet charged in. The golden warrior was put on the defensive, crossing his blades as Jet swung in. Xanor used his right sword to parry Jet’s sword upwards. Thinking Jet defenseless, Xanor thrust in with his left blade. To Xanor’s surprise, Jet was already spinning around the thrust, using his momentum from being parried to carry him. Jet then brought his sword down from up high and thrust the pommel of his sword down into Xanor’s temple.

Xanor stumbled back for a moment but then as Jet attempted a follow-up Xanor suddenly flew up from his crouched position. As Xanor did he exerted a burst of energy, which halted Jet’s charge just long enough to give Xanor a chance to go on the offensive. Xanor swooped in and unleashed a barrage of swings. Xanor would swing with both blades from the right and then follow up with a left-handed jab and then a right-handed swing. Jet managed to deflect the attacks as they came, pivoting and angling his sword to catch Xanor’s as they came in. Xanor slashed in from up high with his left, which Jet blocked, and then Xanor again attempted to thrust thinking Jet vulnerable. Jet saw it coming and kicked outwards hitting the flat side of the blade and sending the attack off to the side.

Despite the speed, ferocity, and power behind each attack, Jet was surprised how easy it was to block the attacks. They came in hard and fast, but there was seemingly no skill behind it. In terms of fighting prowess, Xanor didn’t hold a candle to Marath. Jet had better sword fights with some Wintu soldiers even.

Right as Xanor attempted to cross his blades and slash down with such force to power through Jet’s defense, Jet saw his opening. Jet leaped back just out of the reach of the attack. Then Jet leaped forward and launched an uppercut. Throwing as much force as he could into the attack, Jet felt his fist connect with the bottom of Xanor’s chin. The hit sent Chaos Energy blasting off of half Xanor’s helmet, revealing his shock and surprise. Jet couldn’t help but grin. Xanor was sent sprawling onto his back and Jet landed from his attack.

Jet needed the moment to catch his breath as he watched Xanor sit up. His one visible eye locked onto Jet with pure anger, and then from his seated position Xanor flew upwards. Chaos Energy swirled back and reconstituted the half of Xanor’s helmet. Xanor then lifted his blades in the air, and Jet watched as more Chaos Energy swirled around at the tips of the blades. Then Xanor pointed his swords towards Jet and Jet watched a blue glow sparkle from the point of the swords as there was a high pitched whining noise. It didn’t take much for Jet to guess what was coming.

The teen dove out of the way right before a blue laser would have shot through him with a loud metallic noise. Jet landed into a roll and then had to stop himself as a second laser blasted right where he would have been. Jet spared a short moment to look at Xanor, and he saw Xanor aiming his swords at him, the lasers coming from the swords. Another one-shot in and Jet leaped backward and flipped. Jet landed on his hand and sprung backward again, just narrowly avoiding a laser. As he landed, Jet began sprinting forward.

He realized the same thing, Jet thought to himself, Xanor knows he’s not a match for me up close. The lasers kept him at a distance, forcing Jet back as another laser interrupted his run. Jet only had a moment to think but he thought back to his training. Xanor had forced him to play by his rules, Jet had to force it back onto his own. So as another laser hit the ground, Jet listened for the whine, and started counting in his head. As soon as he heard the metallic echoing of the incoming laser, Jet started counting again. And then a plan began to form.

It took about three more lasers for Jet to find his footing, but once he did Jet began taking diagonal strides forward. Timing each leap with the lasers, Jet started moving ahead of them, giving himself the time between the warm-up and firing of each laser to advance. Jet began to quickly approach Xanor, zig-zagging his way forward. Xanor realized how close Jet was getting and let out an audible growl in frustration. Then he angled his two sword tips together and the hum of the charge began significantly louder. Jet prepped his dodge but wasn’t ready for the laser to be significantly more powerful, the blast impacting the roof and detonating as a small explosion that rocked Jet forward off his feet.

Jet landed into a roll, and he had to quickly spring up to avoid being shot through on the ground. However, the blast made his moves sluggish and he wasn’t quite quick enough to dodge a follow-up laser that singed his arm as Jet was still in the air. Jet grimaced with shut eyes, and as he reopened them he only had a moment to bring up his sword as Xanor suddenly lunged in. The attack connected with Jet in the air and sent him soaring backward, far back towards the edge of the roof.

It took some quick thinking but Jet managed to stab his sword into the ground and used it slow his descent. The sword dug through the roof and Jet realized it wouldn’t be enough. A quick look forward revealed Xanor was already diving in to try and finish him off. A desperate play came to Jet’s mind. With all the strength he could muster, Jet dug his sword deeper into the ground, forcing it to stop. His momentum was still carrying him, so Jet swung himself around his sword with all the strength he could muster. He swung around the sword and let go of the hilt and sent himself flying back towards Xanor.

Xanor wasn’t prepared for Jet to come flying back at him feet first. Jet kicked Xanor out of the air, sending him sprawling backward. Jet bounced off the attack and flipped into a landing. Xanor’s swords went flying out his hands, and Jet saw his opportunity. Before Xanor could get off his back, he leaped up and landed on Xanor’s stomach, slamming him into the ground. Jet then placed one foot on either side of Xanor and unleashed a volley of punches. Chaos dust blasted off Xanor with each punch, quickly reforming to protect Xanor before each hit but there was a small glimpse of Xanor underneath each time.

With a roar, Xanor outstretched a palm and a pillar of energy blasted forward. It would have taken Jet’s head off but he managed to lean back just in time to dodge the attack. However, Xanor took the opening and used his other fire another blast of energy that connected with Jet’s stomach. It hit Jet like a truck, slamming him and sending him skyrocketing backward while knocking all wind out of him. Jet went tumbling backward in the air and even though he discombobulated from the hit, Jet knew he was going to go off the side of the building. He wasn’t going to be able to catch himself this time and needed a strategy.

Like a gold blur Xanor charged in. Not content to let Jet seemingly fall to his death, Xanor tackled Jet in mid-air and crashed him into the building across the street. Jet hit the wall with a hard crash, pain reverberating through his body. Xanor held him in place with his hands on his shoulders, and then let go with one hand and placed the other on Jet’s chest. More energy burst forth, enveloping Jet and drilling him further and further into the building. Jet felt his ribs crushing in as the energy pounded him, and strength left his body. Xanor finally had his edge, Jet realized, using his sheer power to overwhelm him. Jet had given him one opening and that was all it took. But then as Jet looked over Xanor’s shoulder, he could see across the way the Chaos Energy Generator.

Like a light bulb turned on above his head, Jet remembered what Paladin had told him. For Xanor to use and control the Chaos Energy like he was, he had to store it in Generators. But if the Generator was destroyed before Xanor reabsorbed it, the energy would disperse and be lost. Xanor in his aggression had left a far bigger opening. In his right hand, Jet still held his sword. He knew as soon as the energy blast ended he was going to drop. Jet was going to have to act fast.

With as much strength as he could muster, Jet swung his sword up and hit Xanor’s palm. Xanor reeled back in shock and pain. Just as Jet dropped he reached out and grabbed Xanor’s ankle with his left hand. Jet felt himself snag in the air, his momentum broken as Xanor kept him suspended. But if Xanor recovered fast enough, Jet would be in an even more precarious position than before. So with all the strength in his upper body he could muster, Jet swung Xanor downwards, flipping over the top of himself. With extreme coordination, Jet slammed Xanor back into the roof head down and stabbed his sword in the wall to catch himself.

Xanor let out a guttural groan as he was embedded in the wall of the building. Jet’s sword managed to let Jet catch himself. The teen then planted his feet against the wall, and with all the strength in his lower body, he ripped his sword out of the wall and leaped for the original roof he was on. That jump was further than any Jet had attempted before, the length of two three-lane roads. Just as Jet was scared he was going to make it, his sword caught in the wall and slid down, Jet eventually slowing to a stop. He was several stories down from the roof, but at the very least he wasn’t concrete pizza. Then there was that metallic whir of a charging laser.

His chest burned with pain, but Jet had no choice but to use his upper body strength to extract his sword and then heave himself upwards, narrowly avoiding another laser blast. The laser burned into the wall right where Jet’s head had just been, grazing his ankle instead. Jet cleared a couple of stories and was still a few below where he needed to be. He reached up again, but a laser blasted and he barely got his hand out of the way, almost causing him to lose his other grip. Jet pivoted his head and saw Xanor charging in swords pointed right at him.

It looked all over for Jet at that moment. To Xanor’s surprise, Jet smiled. Jet let go, and let Xanor crash into the building. Then Xanor lurched again as Jet grabbed Xanor’s ankle. Xanor then went downwards as Jet heaved himself upwards, throwing himself upwards. That was the momentum Jet needed to clear up to the roof of the building. Jet stumbled to a stand as he landed, his ankle almost giving out from the pain. He collapsed to one knee, having a moment where his life wasn’t in immediate peril, and all of his sustained injuries caught up to him. He breathed shallowly, his ribs not letting him expand his lungs fully. But Jet looked up to see the Chaos Generator and he knew he was almost done.

However, Xanor blasted a massive laser upwards, red and larger than any Xanor had fired previous. It tore through the building diagonally and sent Jet sprawling forward to avoid being disintegrated by the blast. Rubble and debris fell away as a chunk of the top few stories the building gave way and went tumbling towards the street below. Jet landed on his stomach and turned just in time to see Xanor fly through the destruction he created, taking a high position in the air. He floated above Jet and then pointed his swords together again, and Jet watched as a red ring materialized in the air around the tips of his blades. Jet struggled to his feet, getting up just in time to avoid a blast that tore through the building like paper. Xanor sustained it and chased Jet.

Jet did his best attempt to keep running, but he knew Xanor was tenacious. Xanor wasn’t going to give him the break he needed to destroy the Chaos Generator and he needed to incapacitate the villain long enough to do it. As the laser blast continued to dig through the building and shoot up rubble and debris in its wake, Jet came up with a desperate play. It would take more precision than anything he had done before. And baseball hadn’t exactly been a past time in the bunker.

Jet dove to the right and planted his feet, grabbing his sword like a bat. As the blast changed direction and turned towards him, Jet shifted his focus to the chunks of buildings that were blasting upwards in the destruction’s wake. Seeing one that looked big enough, Jet swung the flat end of his sword at it, angling it as best he could. He focused on the angles he would need to make this work, and his sword connected the rubble at the right spot on the sword and a flat enough piece of the debris. The debris flew through the air up to Xanor. For a moment it seemingly skidded along the tip of the laser, but it stayed true and hit its target.

Xanor’s head knocked back in shock as his laser ceased, the debris exploding on impact. Xanor reeled back in the air in shock, flipping backward over top of himself. He fell a few feet in the air before he could right himself, and as he shook his world view back into focus, Jet was in his face. Jet had lept up high, reached up to his hands, and grabbed Xanor’s head. Jet then threw Xanor’s head down and thrust his knee up, connecting them both with an ugly sound. Xanor began to fall again, and as Jet descended he grabbed Xanor’s ankle one last time and threw the villain hard into the ground, sending Xanor crashing stomach first in the ground. Xanor lay for only a moment before trying to stand, but Jet was suddenly over top of him, grabbing Xanor’s head with his left hand before letting out one more brutal punch into the back of Xanor’s head. Xanor collapsed into the ground, motionless.

Jet heaved for breath, but he knew he probably didn’t have long. He ran towards the Chaos Generator, picking up his sword from where he had left it. It wasn’t far between him and the Chaos Generator and Jet could make it and destroy it. However his vision became obscured by the brown tinge of Chaos Dust. It then swirled around his feet, and Jet involuntarily was lifted off the ground. He felt a crushing weight slowly push in all over him as the Chaos Dust seemed to cling to him in air. His sword slipped from his grasp, the Chaos Dust clinging to it and pushing it just out of reach in mid-air. Jet turned his head for a moment to look at Xanor. Xanor had an outstretched hand towards Jet, but his armor was gone. Jet then turned to look back at the Chaos Generator before the dust completely obscured his vision.

There was then a loud snapping sound, and the Chaos Dust formed into a large concentrated ball in the sky.

Xanor struggled to stand, his hand now a fist. He held it up towards the large Chaos Dust sphere he created in the sky and clenched his hand tight. The villain never turned his back to it as he walked between the sphere and the Generator, even though Xannor knew Jet couldn’t have survived that attack he didn’t want to take any chances. He didn’t feel good about that victory, but he needed to win.

Jet Thompson couldn’t have survived.

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