Hi, I have been writing short stories for a bit, but I want to try and take on some short story competitions, anyway any feedback will be great. I want to know what people think of my story, it is inspired by the Count of Monte Cristo. Thanks ahead of time, and I hope you enjoy My Retribution By C.J. Daconta “Are you ready yet Joseph? Bryant shouted in the living room of the mansion. “Your admirer will be here at any moment.” Bryant was a thin typical Oriental man in size and stature. He was keeping himself busy, cycling news feeds through his field of vision through his Cranialnet. “Gotta be fashionably late bro, I have to look like I have a life.” Joseph said as he strolled into the room fixing the tie on his suite. “True, you definitely have to fake that one.” Bryant chuckled. Joseph made his way to his bathroom. Checking himself over one last time before he went out. “That dress doesn't make you look fat dear, don't worry,” Bryant mocked with a feminine tone. “**** you. Just gotta look nice that’s all.” “Mr Fargaunt is here.” The automated voice chimed over the intercom. “He is waiting for your presence sir.” “This is it, 7 years in the making and it’s finally happening, you got my back?” Joseph said as he pulled on his jacket. “Always.” Bryant replied, they clasped hands and headed for the door. Bryant stopped, “Oh **** you almost forgot.” he exclaimed, hurrying back into the living room. He grabbed the wig that was laying on the counter and went back to Joseph. “That would have sucked.” Joseph remarked as they both headed for the door. * * * “Sam! It's good to see you.” Joseph said stepping out on the platform to meet the short stocky young man. “Lucian.” Samuel Fargaunt said with a nod of recognition. “You ready? Today is a very big day for you.” “I am, I am. This is very exciting, I can't believe all this is being done for me.” Joseph said. “Well what did you expect Lucian? You don't just break up one of the worst rebellions and not receive some kind of reward.” Sam responded. “It also helps that you showed up the Emperors Champion in the process.” Bryant said with a quick elbow to Sam's ribs which brought laughter to the group. “What you call showing up, I call saving my skin. I am eternally grateful for you Lucian.” Sam said in a more serious tone. Three weeks ago, the Empire suffered its worst uprising, nearly half the northern sectors rose up in revolt against the Imperium. The Empires forces were clearly superior, but lackadaisical planning lead them into a tight situation. The Imperium army would have suffered substantial losses had it not been for Joseph’s own personal forces showing up the last second to provide the much needed support. In the process Joseph had saved Sam, who was commited at the forefront as the Emperors personal champion, and captured the rebellions leader. Almost every officer available had wrote commendations about Josephs exploits. “I understand that, but the fighting isn't over, there are still pockets of resistance.” Joseph had reminded them. Yes, yes, but it would have been a much harder fought affair.” Sam piped in. “Now shall we be going?” He inquired, taking a few steps back towards the carrier craft and its escort. The Emperors Champion didn't go anywhere without some of the best soldiers in the Imperium. Along side the carrier were Mech suited soldiers with the best tech available, along with his personal psychic entourage. This was the procession that was to escort Joseph to celebration. “Yes, it’s about time, however I have a favor to ask you.” Joseph said to Sam. “Sure what is it?” “I would like to make a quick stop before the evening is underway.” “That shouldn't be a problem, as long as we aren’t too late.” Sam said as he turned towards to escort. “We will be there for you.” The words popped into Josephs field of vision through his internal net. Bryant had sent him one last thing. Joseph had sent back a reply message in the next second of recognition “Thank you.” Genree was a twelve year old boy, and like most twelve year old boys on a Saturday he was with his friends talking about their favorite subject. Girls. His CellComp went off, it was a text message from Leah. “She just wrote me guys.” Genree said, as he frantically mashed at the screen to open its contents. “We told you she liked you! You just had to make the first move.” One of his friends said with a slap on his back. All of Genree's friends were laughing, the digital message Leah sent him was just opened when his, and everyone, CellComps went off. “Urgent alert, move away and clear a safe distance from the target zone shown, Imperium transport in bound.” The alerts blared on everyones screen. Engines could be heard in the far distance. They were those of military flyers of some type. The teens stood up as the shadows of flying vehicles closed above them, hovering just over the city residential buildings. People, who had been busy with their own lives, looked out the windows and step outside to see what was happening. Several figures leapt from the transports. Large mech soldiers in armored exo suites guided down on boosters on their backs and feet, they landed heavy, shaking the ground by their massive bulks. They were followed by expert teams of psychers, who descended by levitation. Their armor was black as the void in space. They spanned their weapons across the crowded streets, taking in all the civilians that stood on the side in awe. None of them spoke a word, but commands and checks had been passed between the escort unit at a speed only machines could match through the use of a built in internet link into their skulls. The lead craft, that no lethal soldier had dropped from, descended to the ground. The door opened to the craft. The surrounding on-lookers leaned in farther to try and get a better view of who was coming out of the military carrier. A tall muscular man in a black suite stepped out. He had long dark hair, it was parted, just so, to all but completely hide his left eye. He was followed by a shorter stocky man in a military officers dress uniform with a clean cut look to him. These men would normally terrify Genree, but he knew the man with the long hair. He was a close family friend and to Genree, he was his idle. “Lucian! What are you doing here!” He yelled as he ran over to the two men. The escort troops flexed to intercept the young teen running towards them. Orders quickly appeared to stand down. The boy went by and hugged Joseph tightly. “Genree, you've gotten bigger. How have you been?” Joseph asked, releasing Genree with a warm smile. “I've been good, the whole family heard about you! Its all over the net, we were hoping to see you again to congratulate you.” Genree burst out in happy excitement. “Thank you Genree, where is your mother and father anyway? I have to tell them something.” “We're here Lord Lucian.” A gruff looking man in his early 40s said as he walked up to them. He was accompanied by a woman with short hair, obviously his wife. They were hand in hand, with wide smiles to see Josephs return. “Please do not call me that Murk. You all are too dear and personal to me to be using my title.” Joseph said to him. “Sorry sir,” Murk replied. “I was only trying to be respectful, felt it fitting after the events have transpired. You’re a very important figure now, much more than the hurt, vagabond we found a couple years ago.” “Those years are in the past, I doubt he wants to be reminded of those hard times.” The wife scolded. “Thank you very much, and do not worry, Cursty. You all could never offend me.” Joseph said as he embraced the couple in a large hug. “Now I am very excited to give you all something.” Joseph said as he produced a letter from his pocket. It was a simple letter, with a large crest of some kind in gold coloring on the front. Joseph handed the letter To Murk “What is this?” Murk remarked as he held up the letter in examination. “Just open it already.” Joseph said with a nonchalant smirk on his face. Murk took the letter and tore it open, unfolding the paper contents before him. It was getting dark, so the gruff man moved to the public lighting along the side of the road. “This...This is a letter from the Nhameen Academy for psychics. What...What is this about Lucian?” Murk said in dismay and confusion. “Its your sons acceptance letter. He is a special young lad, with powers above your average psychics. I want to make sure that his talents are supported and given the chance to grow, thus I took the liberty of paying for his schooling.” Joseph stated with a wide grin on his face. “Lucian, how can we accept this-” “You will. I am doing this because I care, do not ask about it and just accept it.” Joseph cut in firmly. Joseph shifted to take in the crowd as a whole. They had taken notice of his generous kindness, and a few had faces of bitter jealousy. This was a key moment for Lucian’s career. Stepping forward so the crowd could see him, “This is just one of the acts that I have promised to perform for Kursect. I made several of these promises to fulfill for the betterment of this land and I will make good on them. Too long has this land been neglected, too long its people been over looked. That stops now!” Joseph shouted. “With my installation as Lord of this sector, I will be commissioning the building of public schools, transportation, and many various facilities. Kursect will be made strong, but to do this I will need workers. Hard workers. Workers that only Kursect could provide. I will build new industries, that pay well. You will all receive my benefits, like the Serrilin family before you. I promise this to you! I promise this to all of you! Men and Women of Kursect!” Joseph ended with his clenched fist raised. The citizens roared in appreciation, they shouted their praises for him, but not to Joseph, but to Lucian. Joseph had abandoned his real name 7 years ago. He could no longer use his real name in public. So he adopted Lucian. It was regal sounding, and under its guise, Joseph had emerged into the world again, as the popular new Industry head in the Kursect sector. Lucian and Joseph were completely two different people, but Joseph was able to play the act very well. Joseph turned back to the escort. He clasped a hold of the Serrilins one last time, saying farewell to them. He released them and turned to Sam, “Lets go Sam, we don't want to keep everyone waiting now.” Joseph said as he headed towards the transport. * * * “We won't be that late at all.” Joseph said as a map of the journey they were taking displayed in front of him, along with a read out on the time, and weather conditions. As he finished his statement, Sam had a map appear in his own line of sight. “Thank god too. I really do not like upsetting the Emperor, or even making others wait on me unnecessarily.” Sam replied “Believe me, that was a necessary stop.” “You really have feelings for the Kurstecs don’t you?” Joseph looked out at the landscape passing by them as they flew towards the Imperial Citadel, “I was tasked with this responsibility of governing Kurstec. I will make sure it is finally a land that is a proud contributor to the Empire. Funds and Imperial support have been long over due to help that place. Under my control, they will receive the what they deserve.” Joseph stated. “I was raised to value hard work. Those that do not work hard, will always fail. However, these men work hard, but still fail. How is that possible? I'll tell you, its because of their situation, their lack of social mobility, the lack of funding to that area. These men are deprived of being rewarded. Their hard work needs to be beneficial in more ways then just putting food on a table. “You really are amazing Lucian. Keep talking like that and you could be the best candidate for the next Emperor.” Joseph laughed at the statement, “Possibly...Enough with all this serious talk, So who is all going to this? I heard that Catherine will be there.” Joseph mocked with his tongue slightly sticking out in good humor. “Um, yes. Yes, she will be there.” Sam stammered, turning a shade redder than usual. “Ha! Your so cute Sam. I hope there will be dancing, you better dance with her if there is.” Joseph pressed. “If there is I will consider it.” Sam said trying to keep his cool. “Young love, so pure and innocent.” Joseph remarked with a hazing look in his eyes. “Well what about you?” Sam said, trying to turn the focus onto Joseph, “I thought you and Ms Kate Tisdow had a thing going on? She will be there too.” “Nice try Sam, but while yes, Kate is an very special lady. My heart will always belong to one woman.” Joseph said, losing himself for just a split second. “Who would that be sir?” Sam remarked, generally interested. He had never seen Joseph so wrapped up in thought. “She is gone to me, it is no importance.” Joseph said nuzzling himself more comfortable in his chair. It became real uneasy for Sam. Changing the subject, “This really will be a grand ceremony. Word has it, the Lord Viktar himself will be giving you something as a token of the Imperiums appreciation.” “His head on a platter.” Joseph had thought to himself. “I hope its something shiny.” Joseph said jokingly to Sam. “We are approaching the Citadel now my lords.” The pilot said over the intercom. “You ready Lord Lucian?” Sam asked in a rhetorical manner. “I've been waiting for this for a long time.” * * * The citadel was a large Gothic style castle built to house the Emperor. It had many wings and sections from the main spire. Huge pointed buttress that pointed upwards towards the heavens. It was built in an alloy that shown gold that reflected a brilliant light out from the landscape. At night, it was lighted just so to give off a golden glow. The transport touched down on the ornate landing pad. Everything was built in extravagance. The best artists, turned even the most mundane and used items into finely crafted pieces of art. Large statues of mighty warriors and beasts greeted the Transports as they landed. The escort soldiers stepped out first. Their guns and swords bolted to their chest and sides, as they marched out in parade fashion. Sam and Joseph stepped out, and took their places between them. They walked as a unit, marching towards the citadel entrance through the grand entry way. “Every time I am here I lose my breath at this place. It really is spectacular.” Joseph said as they walked. “I get the feeling too. When I was awarded the Eternity blade and titled Emperors Champion, this place seemed like heaven, where only good things happened to me here.” Sam replied. A servitor robot hovered up to them. “Let it be known that Samuel and Lucian have arrived.” Sam said to the bot. “Of course my lord.” The machine stated through its voice speaker. There was a sudden cacophony of trumpets. It was clearly the signal to the guests inside that the man of the hour was present now. They continued onward. The gates opened up to reveal a lavish entrance hall. The walls shone golden with highlights of deep red in contrast. The guests were all spread out around the sides cheering and applauding the arriving party. “Catherine’s over there, and I know you see her to.” Joseph had sent to Sam over the net. Sam had stiffened just slightly, and turned a bit red again. There was a red carpet walkway that lead all the way up to the Golden Throne, there the Emperor himself sat with the Empress. The walls were lined with the Emperors Elite guard. Top psychic users in golden mech suites, with large halberd like weapons in their hands. They stood like perfectly still, lining the halls like living statues. The rest of the assembly was that of the fellow lords of the land and the hundreds of people that helped run the various smaller provinces. They had all come out to congratulate the new hero. The Emperor and his wife stood up from their thrones and walked towards the men. The audience was in utter shock. The Emperor and the Empress made their way to the two men at the opening of the hall. “My lord, it is never the Emperors place to come before one of his subjects-” Joseph started. The Emperor raised his hand for silence. “If it wasn't for men like you I wouldn't be emperor. I take care of the men and women that serve me, and I show gratitude where it is needed.” He said. “Thank you. It is truly an honor sir.” Joseph said as he bowed his head. “Rise Lucian” The Emperor commanded. “For your service in the North during the rebellion, I commend you. You had your own personal forces liberate the troubled armies of the empire, you personally stepped in and saved my champion,” he said with a nod towards Sam. “And you captured the head of the rebellion, effectively severing the head off the serpent.” The Emperor Finalized. “To show my appreciation, you are gifted with an item that no man can ever own.” The Emperor signaled towards his left. Out of the crowd, they came. A beautiful couple in elegant dress clothes came from the crowd. Time stopped. Joseph felt as if he could not breathe. She was so beautiful. Dirty blonde hair. Deep crystal blue eyes. A body of an angel, with a face far more beautiful than any jewel. His past flashed before him. He saw them once more, meeting for the first time, their first date. It was a rainy day, they had to cancel their plans for an out door dinner because of the weather. They laughed as they held each other under a public bus stop. Forward a head, he was leaving for war, and she was crying he kissed her goodbye. The memory of his proposal burned brightly into his mind. He had returned on leave for a few days. He had gotten on one knee at her families residence. She was crying again, but they were happy tears. She was the love of his life. The hand he wished to hold on marriage. The beauty that was in all his dreams. He longed for her presence. She was with him though. He had heard the news, but it was hard to see. Her husband, Lord Viktar. A tall handsome man with sharp statue like features. Even his beard and mustache was trimmed and short. He was holding a long box that had a glass covering. He arced it away from Joseph so he could not peer through the top. It hurt Joseph to see Elizabeth with this man. To be married to Viktar. If only she knew the truth. “Lucian, it is with great pleasure I reward to you the former Eternity Blade. Its past, stained with the shame of its previous owner, but now in your possession it can regain its honor, and return to the ownership of a man worthy to be part of the empire. A roar from the crowd erupted as Viktar spun the box towards Joseph to let him view the sword. It was a very ornate and elegant sword, and its blade was a cool sea blue color. Every molecule was refined to make this sword, and it took years to get it right. Each piece infused with psychic qualities, increasing the wielders own psychic abilities. “Ever since I lost it, all I have wanted was to get this sword back.” Joseph said as he put his hand onto the glass. Everyone in ear shot had their face contorted into a confused expression. The box was sealed shut, it was not meant to be touched. Joseph sent a ripple of psychic energy through the glass and shattered it into hundreds of pieces. Viktar dropped the box and stepped back. “What are you doing!” He demanded. The sword swept upwards into Josephs hands. He slashed it through the air, pointing it in upwards. He remarked silently to himself “At last...I am complete.” “Only an Emperors champion can wield an Eternity Blade. You have no right to even hold it.” Someone in the crowd shouted. “I am an Emperors Champion.” Joseph declared in a harsh tone. “Treason!” Viktar barked. “Do you want to talk of treason Viktar.” Joseph said bringing the sword to bear at Viktar. “Lucian what are you doing?” Sam asked in alarm. “Do you remember 7 years ago, Viktar? 7 years past when you betrayed me!” Joseph said with his fervor growing with each word. “We were like brothers, but you sold me out!” He spat with those last words. “What are you talking about Lucian, you must be crazy” Viktar declared. “I'm not crazy, I'm mad. Mad with rage. You framed me! Declaring I had requisitioned stolen funds and goods from the defeated nations during the unification wars, when it was you yourself who was doing that! You had my wealth taken, my title stripped of me, my honor destroyed, and worst of all you took the woman I loved and the life that should be mine.” “What lies. Who do you think you are. I am Viktar Stencerd. I am the Emperors right hand man, controller of the Bellavort sector, you dare accuse me!” Viktar shouted taking a step forward with conviction. “you still don't get it do you.” Joseph said through gritted teeth. “You had me imprisoned for 5 years. For your thieving traitorous acts, but I got out, and thanks to the proud captain, no one knew about it, until now. Now I take justice into my own hands!”Josephs psychic presence was seeping out of him. A twister of power swirled around about his frame. The dark long wig began to burn and char away. It withered into ash under the psychic torrent to reveal his face, and also the scar that Viktar himself had put upon his left eye when he was imprisoned. His face had several scars, but with the wig on, it made it look much worst than it really was. Without it, his clean shaven head, and cheeky rugged looks were visible. Viktar took a step back. “It can't be...Joseph” Viktar breathed in horror “DIE!!!” Joseph screamed, swinging the sword up then back down, releasing a pulse of bright white psychic energy at Viktar. It carved its way through the crowd and floor, destroying all in its path. The crowd erupted in chaos. All of them trying to escape. The palace guards, woke from their stoic positions and rushed to engage the threat. Joseph spun and parried, his blade becoming multiple weapons at once due to his speed. He cut down the escort troops in the black armor as they turned to face him. He didn't just cut through his opponent though. He sent waves of unchecked energy, sheering the palace in multiple directions including the guests inside it. Viktar had escaped the initial slash. He set Elizabeth down, who seemed to be having a panic attack. My sword!” He bellowed. He looked back at Ellie, “Baby, run, get out of here. This mad man might kill you too, please run!” Viktar pleaded as he pushed her away. She reluctantly ran, looking backwards, she stumbled several times. Elizabeth didn't seem to understand what was happening, but she ran. “Get the guests to safety!” Viktar shouted, giving orders to the palace guards. This alerted Josephs attention. “Viktar!” He roared, suddenly appearing before Viktar. A sword was in Viktars hands suddenly, he barely blocked the mid riff swipe meant to cleave him in too. They had fought before. They were part of the Emperors special forces in the Unification war 7 years ago, but this was different. Joseph was different, this slash had so much force behind it, it made Viktar falter on its own. He felt the spray of a warm liquid upon him. The people that had been trying to escape behind Viktar, had giant bloody gashes through their mid sections. “This mad man didn't care what he hit!” Viktar thought. Viktar parried, and blocked again and again. Joseph was relentless. Suddenly two of the palace guards were behind Joseph. Their halberd weapons raised, they brought them down with earth shattering force. Joseph merely raised his sword to block both. He didn't even flinch by their might. Throwing the halberds back into the air, he spun around and cut deep into their torso's, but he wasn't done. With the reverse slash, he cut them cleanly through, arteriole blood sprayed out from the tops of their torsos as they fell. Joseph made to turn and face Viktar, but he was no longer there. Viktar re-appeared behind a line of several guardians. “FIRE!” He shouted. The mech units of the palace opened up with their giant mounted weapons upon their arms. Missiles launched from the pods on their shoulders. Josephs eyes lit up in pure white radiance. As the shells hit he was lost in the flames and smoke. Through the coughing of the guns of the guards, a low guttural sound, like that of a beast, sounded. As it grew into a shrill shriek, a wave of white searing energy flared at them, forcing them all to fend it off. The lead guard, put his gauntlet down from his face, to find Josephs hand inches from his face. He was leaping upwards, hand outstretched with his sword following his arms length, he stabbed straight through the helmet. The force sent the heavy mech suite crashing to the floor. As Joseph landed, the other guards telekinetically pushed Joseph from both sides, trying to squish him between the force. Joseph merely shouted and through it off, sending out his own psychic reaction that sent the armored giants sprawling to the floor. Viktar was gone again. He was past the main courts, directing the fleeing guests again through the back escape routes. Joseph charged again. At blinding speed he shot towards Viktar. At the last second Viktar spun under the strike. He came to swing a counter strike, but Joseph wasn't there. Viktars heart was in his throat. He heard the loud crash, followed by the terrifying screams of peoples dying pain. Joseph had went by Viktar, striking the ground with his gleaming blade, sending spears of psychic spikes through the floor, piercing the fleeing guests in the other room. Joseph lashed out with loud shouts of hate and anger that were made lethal by his blade. “This can't be!” Sam said as he appeared next to Viktar. “This isn't the same man?” He said in undaunted horror. “I don't care what you think, he has to be stopped, now move out of the way!” “No wait!” Sam cut in. “You go help the other lords. I'm the Emperors Champion, I will stop him. Viktar stared at him for a bit, then relented. “Good luck.” “Thank you.” Sam replied. He looked behind him at the forming Guard mechs, “With me servants of the Empire!” They charged out after the raging psychic. Joseph turned to see the on coming attackers barreling towards him. With a snarl he engaged, clashing in a bright flash with Sam himself. Viktar wanted to help, but more importantly he cared for Elli, and he cared that she might turn on him too. * * * Elizabeth ran with the rest of the guests that were invited to the ceremony. She was a turmoil of emotions inside. She couldn't understand what was happening. Joseph was alive....He was thought to be dead. He was killed in jail...She saw his body...they put it in the ground. Who...or what was that in the ground then...What was he saying? She was having trouble breathing. It seemed her life was crumbling. Once again she felt that the man she loved was lying to her. When Joseph was called a traitor, she was ashamed. The evidence pointed towards her fiance being an underhanded traitor. It made her sick, but here now it was repeating itself all over again. Was Joseph right? Did Viktar have him put in jail for his own crimes? That would prove the inquiries that Jeremiah had about Viktars accounts after the Unification War. He had said there was no way, Viktar could have had the amount of wealth that he did by war pittance from the Emperor. A loud rumble shook the ground and everyone was thrown to the floor by the shock wave. The battle had moved into another room, closer to the fleeing guests. She picked herself up, and continued again. Viktar suddenly appeared next to her. “Babe, are you all right, your cut. You need help.” “Im fine! Whats going on?” She demanded as she they moved. “Joseph is back, he is trying to kill me, the man who found out his treach-” “No! What have you done! Did you frame him? Don't lie there was proof.” Elizabeth said as she stopped in the middle of the walkway. “Honey, we have been married for 6 years! How can you have doubts?” “Don't start, I want the truth!” She shouted The Emperor appeared next to them, “Please continue onward, there are emergency ships at the back of the castle. Viktar, come with me, when Joseph comes I want him brought down. In these halls, his opponents are funneled, out there we can bring more guns to bear upon him.” The Emperor said gripping hold of Viktar. He looked back at his wife, but she continued on in another direction. She needed to think. “My lord” The Emperor and Viktar paused to face the older general tying a sword to his hip. “Requesting permission to leave your side and do my best to bring Joseph down? We fought together back in the Unification Wars, I know how he thinks.” “Permission granted Stuckard.” The Emperor said. He clasped Stuckards shoulder, “Be safe my old friend.” “Nothing I do is ever safe my Lord, but for you.” He replied, then he jogged off. “Come Viktar, we must prepare, and we must get everyone to safety.” The Emperor ordered as they continued towards the escape ships. * * * The battle continued to rage inside the palace. Rooms were being shredded by high powered fire arms, and lethal psychic abilities. The atmosphere smelled of flames, blood, and ozone. Joseph looked like a barbarian. His shirt torn off, and his pants had holes in many places. His eyes were white with power. His mouth contorted in the many expressions of hate and anger as he fought. The two champions clashed over and over again. Eternity Blades smacked together, sending sparks in all directions. Sam feinted an attack, but slid out of the way for one of the guardians who leapt forward with his power fist, trying to bring down all his mechanical power on top of Joseph. Joseph blocked the incoming strike with his hand. There was a loud squeal of straining mechanics, then a large contortion in the metal itself as Joseph tore the arm apart. The mech warrior recoiled in pain, leaving Sam exposed. Sam guarded prepared to receive the next attack, what he wasn't prepared for was the armless guard to be hurled into him. The weight of the mech unit slammed into Sam, sending them both tumbling to the floor. “Samuel!” A worried scream ushered from the side of the room they were fighting in. Sam looked up to see it was Catherine. She wasn't with the other guests fleeing, she was here with him at this moment. He pushed the ruined mech warrior off of him, and ran to her. “You have to go, you can't be here, its too dang-” He could smell the distinct scent of ozone. The tall tell sign of Psychic energy being released. Coming at him. He felt the heat, and zipped to the side. Sam rolled away from the danger, coming up to engage once more, until he realized. Catherine. His eyes widened and he looked back. She was not near the actual slash itself, but she was close enough to receive the full impact that accompanied the blast. Her body was mangled and distorted as if a giant wrecking ball slammed into her. Sam began to hyper-ventilate. How could he do this? What happened to the man who was cheered by the people of Kursect? I looked up to him, he saved me. He came to our rescue at the battle of the North and was being celebrated a hero for it. How is this the same man who is murdering hundreds of innocent people? Was it all an act for this one moment? How could he kill Catherine! “You killed her!” Samuel shouted. He charged forward, matching the speed of Joseph. Their swords were just a blur of blue shimmering lights. Just by their swipes alone they shook the citadel to its core. “Was it all a sham! A lie!” Sam shouted, he saw his opening, he clashed with his sword and punched outward, sending Joseph through several walls. “All those people. They loved you.” He stalked forward, sending loose debris away from the force of his psychic presence alone, “What are they to think now? The man that promised them salvation, is a killer. Think about the young boy, and his family. What about them Lucian!” He finalized with a shout. He walked into the room that Joseph landed in. Joseph was picking himself up. “Them? I don't care for them! I only want! My! Retribution!” Joseph declared his teeth bared, his canines distended outward. “Your not the man I thought you were, I can barely call you a man right now.” Sam said in disgust. His eyes bulged wide, Joseph was in his face. He just kind of materialized. Sam was thrown back, flipping through the air. He landed on his feet skidding to a halt. Stuckard ran up along side him. “General?” Sam inquired. “Like in the old days, split up, attack from both sides, if he stacks us, attack as 1.” Stuckard stated in a calm assertive voice. “Roger.” They met the charging beast before them. It was just the 3 of them, and the corpses of the guards and lords that littered the crumbling wing of the citadel. For being well older than the other two combatants, Stuckard kept pace. With the both of them fighting they were putting Joseph in a bad spot. They attacked from both angles again. Stuckard missed with his blade, but pushed Joseph with a telekinetic force that sent him towards Sam. Joseph used the momentum to crash into Sam, and force a deadlock, but Stuckard was right on him. At the last second, Joseph gave in and leapt to the side, avoiding Stuckards strike just barely. They gave him no rest, This monster would die here and now. Joseph faked towards Sam, then shot over towards Stuckard. They leapt together at Joseph in perfect unison. Stuckward would deadlock and force Joseph to parry and Sam would deliver the killing blow, or so that's how it was supposed to go. Joseph skipped inward suddenly. Sam feared for the worst. Stuckard was clearly caught off guard, he would probably be injured in order to tie up Joseph. Injury was not the case. Joseph spun under his attack, bringing his blade upward. Completely slicing through Stuckard from top to bottom. A man Joseph had once claimed to be the most noble and most admirable soldier he had ever met, was now cleaved entirely in two by his own sword. His body defaced beyond recognition. “Animal! Does he have no respect for people!” Sam thought, he went for the final blow, but his arm wouldn't move. His chest was numb and something warm was trickling down his stomach quickly. Joseph realized, he was cut. The blades tip was long enough to reach Sam from the other side of Stuckard. Joseph slid through the two halfs of Stuckard as they fell to the ground on either side, covering himself in Stuckards lifes blood. He gripped hold of Sams sword hand, and drove his own blade through Sams midriff. Letting go of the hilt, Joseph grabbed Samuel by the neck and hoisted him in the air. He was going to die. He felt this way back in the Northern battle, when he faced the enemies gun at point blank, except there was no one to rescue him. Lucian wasn't going to save him, he would be the one pulling the trigger this time. “So much for only good things happening here?” Sam gritted through his teeth. Joseph didn't even reply, with muscles augmented by countless surgeries, Joseph snapped Samuel's neck and dropped him to the ground. He set off again. These men where not his target, only nuisances in his way. The real bastard was waiting for him still, The man who took everything from him. The man that turned everyone he loved against him, and had him imprisoned for 5 years behind the most torturous jail bars known to man. He would pay. They all would pay! * * * “Target is on his way sir. Moving fast.” The message came over the communications net. The rest of the salvaged palace guard, and even the local forces were drawn up. An entrenched line of soldiers ranging from mech suites, to battle tanks. They were filing in the guests into the transports as quickly as they could, all the while bracing for the arrival of the attacker. “Roger that” Viktar replied. “I want all the surrounding mech guards to prepare to engage in hand to hand combat, once he appears, he will need to be effectively stopped. We must protect the escape crafts. “Target closing in.” The observation stated. “100 meters. 50 meters. 25 meters. 10 meters.” They braced for contact. They were on their toes ready to jump when dull low thumps sounded in the distance. “Artillery? Who has cannons this close to the palace?” Viktar demanded. The entrenched line erupted in a hail of fire. Large shells left craters the size of houses in their wake. Troop transports suddenly appeared over head. Drop prods rained from the underbellies of the massive carriers. Military units bearing the symbol that Lucian used for his legion reared up from their descent with guns blazing. “He has his entire forces committed to this attack!” Viktar snarled. “You bastard!” The guards were caught in close melee with the descending troops. Bryant leapt from the cargo bay of his carrier, he cascaded down to the earth in a dive, then at the last moment of impact with an Emperors Guard he flipped up right and brought down his beam katana down on the armoured unit, severing the unit in two. “He was giving orders at lightning speed. Coordinating units and machines through his cranial-net. Soldiers from both sides fought in a manner only thought possible in movies. Augmented muscles, super machines, and incredible psychic forces clashed. “We have your back Joseph, finish this.” Bryant sent. Viktar was coordinating his own attack, until he heard an earth shattering roar that could only be ushered from a man who had suffered 7 years of simmering anger. Viktar barely had time to bring his sword up to block. the savage blow pushed Viktar down on a knee and tore the rest of the platform to shreds beneath him under the pressure. Viktar was just out matched. This anger was driving Joseph to an all new level in power, and Viktar hadn't trained in years for serious combat since his time in the Unification Wars. His moves seemed at a snails pace. He was being toyed with. Joseph drove his sword into the ground, with the pommel standing straight up in the sky. Joseph fought Viktar with just his hands and feet. He closed in the distance, Punched Viktar real hard in the ribs, grabbed him with the returning blow and through him in the air. Viktar's sword flew out of his hands as he landed hard. “Bastard. You couldn't just be dead and let me live my life.” Viktar grunted, producing two hidden daggers from his wrists. “It was never your life!” Joseph shrieked with a hard punch to Viktars face. The bones in Viktars face cracked, his consciousness faded for a bit. He lost all knowing of what was happening to him. When he fully became aware, he was being lifted in the air. Joseph was holding his legs hefting him off the ground. His back completely exposed. In Josephs arrogance he left his back completely exposed to an enemy with daggers in each hand. He raised his daggers high above his head. As he was being brought back down to earth his daggers sang towards Josephs spine. The tips mere inches from Josephs. Pain. White hot and searing shot through Viktar. Something stabbed him in the back. The force of Josephs slam, upon whatever object, had set his aim off kilter, he grazed the trap muscles of Joseph. He hit the ground hard, with a blue shimmering object through his chest. It was Josephs sword he had put in the ground. Joseph had slammed him through the swords pommel. Joseph retrieved the blade, hefting it high above his head with the tip facing downward at Viktars face. His eyes blazing with fire. His shout pierced the air, and the brilliance from his strike encompassed everything in a giant white orb of light that shook the earth. * * * Breathing heavily, Joseph limped out of the crater. His troops were mopping up the last of the guards still fighting in the palace grounds. Bryant had joined him by his side. “We received light casualties but several are pretty beat up. They were completely caught off guard. Now lets go, we have word Imperial forces are en route.” Bryant said to the battered figure next to him. “Ok, give my thanks to the men. I couldn't have done this without them.” Joseph panted. “Will do.” Bryant replied. “So all this for one man.” The Emperor said standing out from the cowering crowd that was being detained. “This was not a power play. A move to bring down the political structure of the Empire. This was a childish feud between you and Viktar. You cut through my castle, and killed hundreds of innocent bystanders to take revenge upon one man, is that Right, Joseph!” The Emperor shouted with righteous conviction. “Thats exactly how it is.” Joseph said bluntly. They continued to walk, they were almost at the transport when Joseph was called once more. He turned, it was Elizabeth. She had run up out of the crowd. Her eyes wild with fear and confusion. She wanted answers, she wanted to know the truth. She looked into his eyes, there was that old glimmer of the Joseph she knew behind them. Joseph just turned back around to the carrier. He was done here.