Chapter 6 – The Pursuit of Justice

Chapter List – – – Previous Chapter

“Let me go! Get off me!” Lilly screamed.

She did her best to fight her attacker, pushing against him and even swinging her fists at the offender in the black hood. He refused to obey. A sickening grin had stretched out his face as he clawed at the girl’s form in an effort to get a better grip on her. He was trying to restrain her. To what end, Lilly could not say but she had a pretty good idea.

“Where is it, pretty girl? I can smell it on you!” the pale man in the black hood hissed.

His grimy fingers grasped at the front of Lilly’s dress, tugging hard until it ripped.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about! Leave me alone!” she screamed again.

In her desperation, she kicked hard, trying to inflict some kind of harm on him to force him to release her. He seemed unaffected by it, even when she planted her knee firmly in a rather tender spot. Instead of recoiling in pain, his grin simply stretched wider–wider than seemed natural. He leaned in close to the frightened lady. His tongue snaked free of his hideous, unclean teeth.

“Oooh, you’ve got spirit. You might be of use yet.” the hooded thug said in an unsettlingly calm voice.

That only made Lilly fight all the harder. He might have intended to only mug her, but now he was getting other ideas. That meant only bad things for the lady. She swung her leg back and tried to knee him in the groin again, which had the same lack of impact as the first strike.

“You sick freak! I’m warning you! If you don’t let go of me this instant-” Lilly growled as she changed tactics.

Rather than going after the usual spots, she lifted her foot and slammed it down hard on the thug’s shoe. True to her form, she hadn’t bothered to put on anything other than her usual boots. She even tipped the toe upward so that her heel would come down on him in a finer point. That did the trick. She was sure she could actually feel the snapping of a bone or two. The thug grimaced in pain, clenching his teeth as he was made to suffer. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a loosening of his grasp. If anything, he jostled the lady harder. The rip in the front of her dress widened, permitting what lay beneath to spill out.

The hooded man suddenly paused as he caught sight of a glimmer of gold hanging about her neck. His eyes swelled wide and a hand snatched the triangular pendant from around Lilly’s neck. With a sharp tug, he yanked on the necklace to snap the chain free.

“So you do have it! I knew he gave it to you!” he shouted in triumph.

In that instant, he pushed the girl away, shoving her to the ground. She landed with a thud, her shoulder taking the brunt of the fall. Dazed, she looked back up her attacker as he stared gleefully at the pendent. She couldn’t let him take it. It was all she had left of Colin. A pure, grief-fueled rage flowed through her, clouding her good sense.

“Give that back! I’ll kill you!” Lilly screamed at the top of her lungs.

She clambered to her feet, still rather unsteady from the fall. She wouldn’t let that stop her. She knew how to take a hit and get back up. She tucked herself into a charge, preparing to plant a shoulder into the thief’s stomach and send him to the ground.

“Silence woman!” he shouted.

A hand rose towards her, palm pressed outward, fingers curled slightly. Instantly, Lilly found herself unable to move, unable to speak, completely paralyzed. It was one of the single most unsettling experiences of her life. She fought against the invisible restraints holding her perfectly still, disturbed by the fact that she couldn’t move even a single millimeter.

When she tried to open her mouth or even make a sound, she found that she was completely unable. No part of her answered her commands. She couldn’t even breathe! Just who was this thug and what had he done to her?

“I have what I came for, but you could be of great use as well. A lovely prize indeed. Do not tempt me to end your life here and now. It would be such a such a tragedy.” the mysterious attacker said.

“Faron Police! Put the girl down and drop the necklace! Now!” roared a new voice.

The hooded figure turned his head to gaze back behind him, finding the Detective only about ten meters away, weapon drawn and aimed at him. Technically, Link should not have had his sidearm, but he refused to go without it while in uniform, even if it was only his dress uniform. The thug spun slowly around completely, heartily amused by this feeble attempt to arrest him.

“Such a brave young man–pointing a gun at a villain to save the damsel in distress. Is that the first thing they teach you in law enforcement these days? If you were really smart, you’d have shot me already.” the hooded man said with the same sickening grin he had shown Lilly.

“Shut up! Get on the ground! Now! I’m not gonna tell you again!” the Detective shouted.

Link’s thumb retracted the charging hammer on his pistol. A high pitch whine spooled up in response. A pale green light began to fill the barrel. His blood boiled, his brow creased downward, his teeth ground against one another. He wasn’t letting this one get away. Not when his hand was hurting this badly. All his efforts didn’t seem to faze the assailant in the slightest. The hooded figure simply stepped in closer, holding the necklace to keep it visible.

“Not going to tell me again, hmm? Oh my… and what will you do if I don’t comply? Radio for help? You don’t have the stomach to pull that trigger. I’ll take what’s mine and be off. Farewell, Faron’s finest!” the unsettling man cried out gleefully.

There was something infuriatingly poetic in the way he spoke, and it drove into Link like a metal spike. The hooded figure lifted his empty hand as if commanding someone unseen. Instantly, Lilly sank into the ground. The darkness at her feet just rose from the ground and began to swallow her up. Her voice found again, she screamed as several black hands reached up from below, pulling her down into whatever it was that had caught her.

“Lilly!” Link cried in terror.

He lowered his weapon, charging forward in the hope that he could catch her and pull her back out. In seconds, she was gone. The dark pool that had consumed her vanished completely. The assailant cackled madly as he leapt over the fence to his right and dashed into the park. The foliage concealed him well as he made his escape.

Link’s hand burned, causing him untold agony. This was worse than the last time. High school couldn’t even begin to compare to this. He snapped his head back towards the fence, growling with deep, guttural rage. In a flash, he was over the fence, charging through the brush after the perpetrator. He reached up to his right ear and tapped the device still hanging there. The Chief would be angry with him if he knew he was still wearing his com even after being put on mandatory leave. He would be completely incensed knowing Link had drawn his weapon while off duty. Now he was glad he had disobeyed.

“This is Detective Link! I’m in pursuit of caucasian male wearing a black hooded shirt! Roughly one point eight meters tall, thin frame! A civilian has been abducted! Am on foot traveling north through West Lake Park! Requesting backup! Subject is to be considered armed and dangerous!” he shouted through his radio.

He didn’t know how else to classify what he had just seen. Surely the assailant had some sort of device or weapon that allowed him to spirit someone away like that. As he raced forward, trying desperately to catch sight of his target, he heard dispatch returning his call.

“Copy that, Detective. Attempting to lock onto your signal now. Backup will be on route as soon as we have a fix on your position. All units, all units, suspect wearing black hoodie wanted for abduction. Converge on West Lake Park. Coordinates to follow. Be advised, suspect is armed and dangerous.” responded the dispatch operator.

With the might of the Faron Police charging to his aid, Link felt his stomach untie just a bit. They would be on the scene in moments and they’d be able to cordon off the area. The kidnapper would be trapped and then the Detective could pound the answers out of him, even make him bring Lilly back from wherever he had sent her. Link crashed through the brush and found himself on one of the many paths through the park, whipping about this way and that to try and spot his target again. Footsteps–rapid and oddly light–came from his left. He turned to follow them and as he rounded a bend, he sighted the perpetrator.

“Stop!” he shouted then tapped his ear piece again, “This is Detective Link! I have a fix on the target! He’s headed for the southwest entrance! Repeat, southwest entrance! All units converge!”

As he raced after his target, one of his hands dipped into his pocket, pulling out what looked like safety glasses. He shoved them on over his eyes and tapped the right side hinge. The clear plastic in front of him illuminated softly, providing the typical start-up splash. In only a matter of seconds, it was fully operational. The visor locked onto the fleeing man and provided information about the location and strength of his backup. The face of the dispatch operator appeared in the corner as she connected to his display.

“We copy, Detective. Tracking your signal now. Three cruisers have the southwest entrance covered. Two more are moving into position to cover the north. Aerial has a fix on you and the suspect. Local security grid is coming online. Ready to activate park safety measure on your command.” said the lady in Link’s ear.

“Use non-lethal force only! We need him to tell us where the civilian is! Get the foam cannons at junction B36 ready! We’ll push him into their range!” the Detective barked.

The orders were passed on with swift efficiency. A spot light was cast on the dark clothed man as he sprinted away at shocking speed. His movements became difficult to track as he took cover under the canopy the trees provided. As he reached a split in the path, a brilliant yellow grid flashed in one of the two branches just as he was about to cross its plain. It sparked and buzzed loudly, ready to render anyone foolish enough to touch it a smoldering pile of unconscious suspect. The hooded man cackled and turned, darting down another open path, headed right for the trap Link had set for him.

“Suspect will enter canon field in twenty seconds. Security fields are holding. He’s not getting out of there.” dispatch called out, sounding overly confident.

“Keep an eye on him! I don’t care how secure you think it is! Do not let him escape!” the Detective shouted.

Link’s visor flashed as the cannons were triggered. The sounds of pressurized gas and blobs of inflating latex-foam could be heard, each shot missing its target. The Detective rounded the new corner to find the artillery had not been enough, just as he feared. The man was dodging each shot with impossible agility. It was almost as though he knew where the shots were going to land.

“Freeze!” the Detective roared.

He lifted his weapon again, primed to fire. The hooded man turned about, bending this way and that to avoid the shots still being fired at him.

“Oh you’re still here! Marvelous! What a delightful game of chase we have here! Bet you can’t keep up! Might as well say goodbye now!” the hooded man called out to his pursuer.

He lifted a hand to give the officer a mocking salute. His overconfidence afforded the police a single minor victory. One of the cannons trained in on his hand and fired, landing its shot. A blob of black goo splattered across the back of his palm, knocking him to one side. That hand was now useless. The expansion of the ooze forced it to stiffen and solidify. His fingers could no longer move. With his pride damaged, the assailant turned and darted away.

“Dispatch! Target has been hit by the foam! Lock onto the heat signature and patch it through to me!” Link ordered.

“On it now. How the hell did he dodge almost every shot?” dispatch replied in astonishment.

“I don’t know but just don’t lose him! Maintain sensor fix!” the Detective shot back angrily.

His legs were already beginning to burn but he ignored the pain. He pushed on, racing down the path after the mysterious and frighteningly able-bodied man. The voice in his ear continued to update him, able to track his whereabouts with ease.

“He’s turned east, away from the blockade. He’s headed for a dead end. Security fields are in place and holding. Ground units are on their way to you. Aerial support is on station,” dispatch reported, then lowered her voice to a subtle growl, “Get him.”

Those last two words–‘get him’–they drilled into Link’s very being and he made them his mission. Nothing else mattered. The dead end in question welled up in front of him and there stood the man who took Lilly away, the closest thing Link had to a sister. He faced the trees ahead of him, the shimmering grid between him and the plant life. Whoever this man was, he had picked the wrong Hylian to screw with. Link had already lost his brother. He was profoundly driven to not lose his sister too. Link lifted his gun once more.

“You’ve got nowhere else to go! Put your hands where I can see them and get down on your knees!” the Detective ordered.

The whine of the gun charging sounded. He was confident he had him this time.

“Nowhere to go you say? Oh there’s always somewhere to go.” the hooded man said.

He turned about, grinning that terrible grin as he lifted his useless hand, peering at it curiously. The latex foam had hardened into a spongy styrene-like substance but more durable. The only way out of it was to spray it with the counter-agent. Or so everyone thought. The round black mass suddenly burst into flame, startling Link quite suddenly.

The man howled with laughter; a terrible sound. He looked to the air-bike above casting its light on him, no doubt targeting him as well and hurled the sphere of fire at it. The pilot attempted to veer out of the way but it was just too unexpected. The blast of flame struck the cycle and exploded with a powerful concussion. The light went out and the cycle fell out of the sky, plummeting to the ground between police officer and the assailant. As it crashed, it shorted out and exploded. Thankfully the pilot had bailed out prior to hitting the ground, but in doing so, he left the engines and computer running. The short and resulting blast overwhelmed the security grids. A shower of sparks cascaded down around them. Dispatch’s dismay spread across the whole of the force on site.

“What the hell!? How did he do that!?” she cried.

Link moved to the pilot’s side, checking to see if he was unharmed. He looked up to see his target taking great pleasure in the destruction.

“You people and your technology. It’s just so very easy to overpower.” the hooded man cackled then dashed away.

He brazenly leapt past the flaming wreckage, leaving the Detective and pilot behind. Both were utterly stunned by what they had just witnessed. This was no ordinary criminal or street thug. He had conjured fire seemingly from nowhere.

“I’m fine! Go after him! And kick his ass for me!” shouted the pilot.

He was dazed and still recovering from the blast, but he found strength enough to shove Link away. The Detective didn’t need to be told again. He darted away, absolutely furious by now. He was past the point of playing it soft. Seeing what this guy could do, it was time to up his game.

“Dispatch, connect me with an operator. I need assault package three.” he said, his voice calm, his legs powering him forward like a metronome.

“Copy, bringing an operator online. Transferring communications management upon package activation. Assault three selected. Delivery in ten seconds,” dispatch replied, “Good hunting.”

A timer appeared on the Detective’s visor as he ran, alerting him to the arrival of his requested package. He rounded the corner just as it approached zero. With a strong kick from both legs, he leapt into the air. An aura of light surrounded him as delivery came. Armor appeared across Link’s chest, quickly extending down over his arms and legs. His visor stretched to cover his entire face, connecting with a helmet that swallowed up the rest of his head. He landed with a loud thud, the plated boots weighing him down. A thin line of blue formed across his back, closing in a perfect circle. A triangle filled it, one of the three equal angles pointed straight down. From this circle, the same blue light spread out across the whole of his armor, following along the conduits channeling the power. He kicked out one leg behind him, propelled not only by his own strength but the powerful drive system now connected. He wouldn’t have any trouble keeping up now.

“Riot suit online, defensive screen is charged. Closing on target. Clear the area for the next two blocks. I want no collateral damage.” Link said through his radio.

“Operator online, connection confirmed, reading you loud and clear. All systems nominal. Dispatch is issuing a general evacuation for a three block radius. Additional units are on route, their operators report their suits are online as well. Command is authorizing whatever forces you need to apprehend the target.” said a new voice.

It wasn’t the usual one Link had grown accustomed to in the exceptionally rare moments he needed such firepower, but he was fine with that. Simulations were scheduled. Actual cases of criminal activity were rarely so convenient.

“Understood.” the Detective replied.

Link charged forward, not hesitating for an instant in his pursuit. The distance between officer and his prey was shrinking dramatically. The sound of metal slamming into pavement alerted the hooded figure to his approach. The pale-faced man looked over his shoulder. Upon seeing an enraged Faron police officer in full riot gear, his mood shifted. This one wasn’t giving up so easily. He raced down the sidewalk with freakishly impressive speed, ducking down an alley with a sharp turn. Something so big might have given up a great deal of agility in favor of the increase in power.

Link screeched to a halt as he approached the corner, redirecting his momentum in the new direction with expert control. He’d had enough practice with the inertial manipulation field he could stop on the head of a pin. The sound of his pursuit continued to echo in his target’s ears, giving him reason to finally fear the Detective. By this point, other officers would be screaming through the on board PA system warnings and threats. Link didn’t bother. It was clear this criminal wasn’t interested in going quietly.

As he ran, he brought his left arm up in front of him, tapping the controls on his wrist. His heads-up-display quickly shifted from a gentle green to a menacing red, locking onto the man he was after. The readout showed the distance between them accurately to within the nearest hundredth of a meter. The armor on his left forearm began to reconfigure, expanding laterally and opening to reveal two narrow barrels that slid out on either side of his hand. The sidearm he had used possessed a rather high-pitched whine upon charging. This was decidedly heavier and faster. His left hand rose to point forward, taking careful aim. The reticule in his visor beeped as it trained on the hooded figure before him, snapping into place and changing its tone to a long, lower register beep.

This time, Link didn’t hesitate. Two powerful bursts of plasma-based disruptive energy escaped the twin barrels. The pair of golden bolts of light surged forward, giving the Detective’s shoulder a stout jarring from the recoil. Just as they were to hit their mark, they sailed past. The hooded man turned down another alley just fractions of a second before he was hit. The two bolts raced off into the night, striking the wall of a building well off in the distance. No damage was done. They simple dissolved harmlessly into the metallic plating.

Again Link screeched and turned, keeping pace with his quarry. He recharged his weapon and took another shot, missing again as the frustrating target ducked, rolling along the ground as the second volley passed only inches overhead. As he rolled back to his feet to resume his running posture, he spun about and flung a ball of flame back at the armored man behind him. It was too fast for Link to defend properly. Instead, he leaned far back, kicking his legs out in front of him into a slide. The sound of metal grinding against concrete echoed in the alleyway. The orange sphere of flame passed far too closely for his comfort. As soon as he was clear, he slammed his elbows to the ground with all the might he could muster. A pair of small thruster jets, one in each forearm, kicked on, pushing the Detective back upwards. The force shot him up onto his feet. The maneuver had cost him a bit of distance but that was easy enough to make back up.

“Sensors have analyzed his attacks. It’s pure fire. I’m reading no accelerant of any kind, no device at the core generating the heat. It registers over one thousand degrees at the center. Your defense screens can’t withstand that. Whatever you do Link, do not let him hit you with that.” called out the young man in the detective’s ear monitoring his status.

“Copy operator. Give me a shield.” Link ordered.

“Understood, sending one now. We don’t have anything that can stand up to something that intense for too long. It’ll last for three, maybe four direct blasts. Recommend you deflect rather than absorb.” the operator said.

“Acknowledged.” the Detective answered.

A similar countdown from earlier appeared in his display, not distracting him from turning and twisting in the blind alleys. When it reached zero, his right arm began to glow fiercely. A series of holographic cubes formed around his forearm, fading after only moments and leaving behind a new attachment. It rose only centimeters out of the back of his arm, wired directly into his armor.

“Recommend configuration beta while in the alleys. If he’s going where I think he’s going, the path will empty out into an abandoned lot. I’ve directed reinforcements to converge there.” the operator advised.

Dispatch tracked the two of them carefully, mapping out the expected path. A representation of the immediate area appeared in the corner of Link’s visor, showing his location as well as the man he was chasing.

“What’s their ETA?” the Detective asked.

“Two minutes. This guy’s speed kind of threw us for a loop.” the operator replied just as ‘Backup ETA’ time appeared in the top center of the Detective’s visor.

“Don’t keep me waiting too long. There might not be much of him left when you get there.” Link replied.

The Detective would probably regret going on record saying something like that, but in the heat of the moment, he didn’t care. He wanted to savage the man he was chasing. The red mist had descended and the Detective was caught in it. He lifted his right arm, bringing the new attachment online. Two semi-circular plates slid out seemingly from nowhere, forming a round shield that covered him from hip to eye-line when held properly.

Another burst of fire came from his target. Its destination was mapped out immediately by the display and it was plotted to be Link’s head. He watched the readout in his display carefully, judging its speed and distance before swinging his arm hard. The shield connected soundly with the fireball and knocked it skyward. It dissipated quickly having collided with the sturdy shell. Immediately, the meter on the right side of Link’s HUD showed the shield’s integrity drop to eighty percent. Deflection would indeed make his shield last longer. Unfortunately, seeing the officer so easily shake off one of his attacks, the hooded man growled and charged forward all the faster. Where was this unnatural speed coming from? Another volley from the Detective only barely missed its target. It was uncanny how he knew exactly when to dodge.

Eventually the latest alley spilled out into the very abandoned lot the operator spoke of. This would be where the hooded man would make his stand. Something however was there waiting for him that the Detective did not expect. There was a figure lying on the ground in the center of the lot. The mysterious attacker came to a halt only a meter away from the crumpled form, turned about, and faced the armored officer. He held out a palm towards the unconscious victim, summoning the same blaze as before. It was a threat.

“Stay where you are or she dies!” the man bellowed.

The Detective didn’t need his sensors and facial recognition software to identify who it was. He could see plain as day exactly who was being held hostage. It was Lilly.

Link skidded to a halt, not daring to give the monster a reason to unleash his wrath on her. His sensors worked overtime trying to analyze what they detected. It was baffling. Just as the operator had said, the fire seemed to come from nowhere, as if his skin was burning. And yet his flesh was not being consumed.

“Civilian hostage identified. What the hell? I’m not getting any traditional power signatures! How is he able to create the fire!?” the operator cried out in disbelief.

“What’s the status of the reinforcements?” Link asked, too focused on the man in front of him to check the timer.

His eyes burned with hatred behind his visor, plotting and calculating how he could move Lilly out of harm’s way without letting his target escape. His options were quickly running out.

“Closing on you now. Ninety seconds away.” the operator reported.

He needed to stall just long enough to have someone take this bastard out from behind. He deactivated the cannons on his left arm. The barrels retreated into his armor as he stood and lifted both hands.

“Just take it easy man. You really don’t wanna do this. Put the fire out and step away from the girl. Cooperate and you won’t get hurt. You have my word.” Link said calmly.

“You’re in no position to give orders, Detective! I commend you for giving chase as well as you have, even if you had to rely on mechanical trickery to do it! You will disarm complete, remove your armor, and surrender, or the girl will be a charred corpse!” the hooded man shouted.

“Detective, I think I have something for you. I’ve been going over his scans. There’s a definite pattern to his energy signature. It’s unlike anything we’ve come across before but I think I can drain it. You’ve only got one shot but you have to get him to hit your shield with that fireball. Whatever you do, do not deflect it. It has to be a direct hit. I’m uploading a patch to your power relays now. Just make him fire at you.” the operator said over the sound of his fingers flying across a keyboard.

That wouldn’t be much of a problem. If he understood this psychopath correctly, it would only take a few short words.

“Threatening to kill a knocked out girl who can’t defend herself. That’s not gonna be much of a thrill for you is it? Nah, I saw the look in your eyes when you brought down the air-bike. You get a kick out of hitting people who think they can’t be hurt. You love hitting them right where they’re most vulnerable. You’re not gonna kill her. It just isn’t exciting enough for you. What you really want is to kill me.” Link said, dropping the civil tone he had offered on moments earlier.

“True, that would be far more satisfying, but so long as she is in danger, you cannot touch me.” the hooded man said.

Link eased his posture, letting his guard down. Those watching his feeds back at the station began to scream at him to put his shield back up, even though they knew he couldn’t hear but one of them.

“I think you’re just a craven little punk,” Link said, “You’re scared. You spout anti-technology bullcrap but you’re actually just pissing your pants like a little coward. You couldn’t take me on in a fair fight if you wanted to. You know I’d turn you into a red stain on the sidewalk.”

The arrogance was rather irritating, but not enough for the assailant to lose his head. Instead of attacking in blind rage, he simply grinned his sickly grin.

“Allow me to correct that misguided view of yours!” the man shouted.

His free hand was flung towards the Detective, a second fireball launched with terrifying speed. Link’s eyes widened as he yanked his right arm up to block only just barely in the nick of time. The blazing heat struck the curved shield, eating away at its integrity rapidly. It dropped from eighty to sixty in only seconds and continued to drop as the fire spread across the shield’s surface. Link was knocked back, forcing him to stumble to maintain his posture.

In that instant, the new patch to his systems took effect. The heat drained away as he watched the illumination along his armor glow all the brighter, pulling energy seemingly from out of thin air. Arcs of electricity raced across the void between the combatants, connecting the shield with the hooded man’s hand. He screamed in agony and surprise as the fire surrounding his other hand vanished. He dropped to his knees while Link struggled to stay on his feet. Warnings began to pop up in his HUD, cautioning him to an overload in progress. The bolts of electricity connecting them began to arc across his arms and chest, spreading down his legs to the ground.

“Link! Jettison your shield now!” the operator screamed through the radio.

The Detective had the same thought. He stepped into the electric storm washing across him, spinning about on his feet. As his right arm came back around towards the hooded figure, he released the locks keeping the shield attached. The momentum sent it flying back along the path of the lightning. With it removed, his systems returned to normal, the excess energy bleeding off into the air. As the shield approached the man still howling in rage and pain, it suddenly exploded in spectacular fashion. It had been completely overwhelmed by this strange new form of energy, giving out at just the right moment. The concussion threw him backwards over and past Lilly by several meters.

In seconds, the Detective was charging forward, leaping over the unconscious woman. A mighty swing of his left arm connected an armor plated fist to the hooded man’s chin. The blow threw him even further. Dazed from the punch, the pale fellow couldn’t bring himself to sit up right away. Link was upon him nearly instantly. A blade of light surged out from the back of his wrist, forcing his hand to bend forward to avoid making contact. He clutched the neck of the hooded man’s shirt with his right hand and held the white hot energy blade atop his left close to the criminal’s neck.

Feeling bold, the Detective commanded the faceplate and visor to retract, giving him a chance to look his target in the eye. It was unwise, but he wasn’t in the wisest of mindsets. He wanted so badly to let his blade find the man’s flesh. After what this monster had done, he deserved nothing less. But, he remembered that was not who he was. He could hear Mr. Parson’s voice in his mind. He could hear Colin’s too. He was an officer of the police force. More importantly, he was a ‘knight of the yard’. With great restraint, the Detective wrestled himself back under control.

“You’re under arrest for theft, abduction, destruction of property, and assaulting a member of law enforcement.” Link growled.

Gods it felt good bringing him down, to say nothing of seeing a copious red smear running across the man’s lips and chin. It might have felt better putting an extra hole in the man’s neck, but that would have gone against everything Link had aspired to be. He would settle for that one good jab he managed to land.

His sense of victory wavered as he watched his captive. Instead of giving in, the pale-skinned man laughed, his hood falling away. At last Link could get a good look at him. He was completely bald. His eyes were an unhealthy yellow as if he were jaundiced. His teeth were a disgusting pale shade of brown. The most distinguishing feature was a tattoo on his forehead. It appeared to be an eye with three triangular eyelashes above it, evenly spaced. Running down between the man’s actual eyes was a teardrop that began at the bottom center of the tattooed eye. The Detective had seen that symbol somewhere before, but he couldn’t place it. The pale man’s sweat gave the black mark a hideous glisten. As he studied it, he noticed smudges in its detailing. It wasn’t actually a tattoo. It was painted on. Was it part of ritual of some sort?

“You think you’ve won simply because you drained me of my power and given me one good punch? Let me teach you the first lesson you all will need to learn in the new order. Never underestimate a wizard. You will not survive this encounter, boy!” the sickly looking man cried.

Again Link’s left hand ached powerfully. It had died down somewhat, but the pain roared right back to life in that instant. Something was wrong.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” the Detective said, trying to maintain his composure, even reaching for something to restrain the pale man.

The self-proclaimed wizard cackled and coughed on his own blood.

“I intend no such thing! Your precious female will die just as horribly as you will!” he howled, then cackled.

Link winced as his hand burned, searing through his armor. Light began to seep out through the joints in the plating. A similar light began to shine from within the pale man’s sweatshirt, specifically the pocket stitched into the front where both hands could meet in the middle.

The Detective caught sight of it and shoved his hand into the pocket, retreating with the necklace that had been taken from Lilly. It was shining powerfully, so bright it was almost painful to look at. The sudden brilliance gave the dark mage pause. His eyes locked with Link’s as it began to make sense.

“I see… it’s you! No wonder you were so dogged in your pursuit! I commend you foolish hero! You’ve not only doomed yourself, but the whole of Hyrule! With your death, my master will have nothing to stop him! The reclamation is nigh!” the ‘wizard’ shouted gleefully.

He began to cackle again, howling with laughter this time. His head tilted back, dangling loosely from his shoulders as though he had stopped trying to hold himself upright. He arched his back and stretched his arms out as far as he could reach across the ground.

“You have the right to an attorney.” Link tried to continue, gritting his teeth through the agony of his hand.

The darkness of night seemed to suddenly deepen around them, even in spite of the glowing necklace. The shadows cast by the buildings suddenly came alive, swirling and surrounding the officer and his collar. Hands reached up out of the blackness, possessing a terrible dark violet aura.

The sight didn’t catch Link’s attention until it was well into taking shape. When it did, it startled him terribly. This wasn’t like anything he had read about in the legends and myths.

“If you don’t have- What the hell is that!?” he cried in dismay.

The Detective released the ‘wizard’ and backed away, the laughter chilling his bones. The sickly looking man just repeated the same phrase again and again.

“The reclamation is nigh!” he shrieked, “The reclamation is nigh!”

Those were his last words. Immediately, the shadows reached out and consumed him. The clawed hands tore at his form as he screamed in pain. It lasted only seconds, then the man fell silent. The pool of blackness spread as it uncovered the wizard, leaving a withered, shriveled skeletal husk of the man that had been there. Link stared in horror, only to feel his dread grow as he watched the same hands from before emerge again, this time slamming to the ground to pull the rest of their owners up out of the pool. The shadowed ooze was still spreading, slowly creating a ring around the Detective and the still unconscious Lilly. He tried to bring his faceplate back up but his suit refused to obey. The patch his operator had uploaded to let him bring down the ‘wizard’ had triggered a failsafe after the shock to the system. As soon as he deactivated his energy blade, the whole thing went dark. The safety overrides had engaged. His armor was offline, leaving him controlling it all manually.

“Operator! Do you copy!? Dispatch! This is Detective Link! Situation is hostile! I’ve numerous targets materializing in the area! Suit is inoperable! I need that backup! Do you copy!?” he shouted fruitlessly into his radio.

It had only been roughly a minute since his last status update on reinforcements. He was sure he wouldn’t last thirty seconds. No answer came over his radio. His hand continued to burn away until he cried out in pain, grasping at it. The black figures continued to rise up out of the ground, taking on the appearance of twisted marionette dolls carved for a horror show. Their unchanging grins and glowing eyes paralyzed the Detective with fear. He couldn’t let this be the end.

Fighting against his pain and the urge to cower, he reached around behind him and collected a rod hanging at his waist. With a quick swing, he extended his riot baton and readied himself for combat. His heart raced. How long did he have? Twenty seconds? He couldn’t even hear the engines of the dropships yet. He was on his own. He was going to die. These monsters would tear him limb from limb. They would do the same to Lilly.

Lilly. They would kill her. He pictured in his mind the same fate that had befallen the ‘wizard’. He could see her shriveled, lifeless corpse, and it drove him mad. He couldn’t let that happen.

Link closed his fingers around the necklace in his hand as it glowed all the brighter. The pain in his left palm seemed to fade to a distant memory, still shining under the highly advanced gauntlet. All he felt was an intense, overwhelming sense of righteousness. He didn’t care what happened to him. He wouldn’t let them touch Lilly. He would protect his sister, even if it cost him his life.

The backup units promised by Link’s operator raced over the tops of the buildings, closing in on their destination. They had heard every word from the young Detective. Now concerned they would not get there in time, their pilots increased speed. A brilliant flash of golden light consumed the vision of everyone racing for Link’s position. The ground shook and a powerful gust of wind rattled the cruisers. Everyone in the air cried out in fear of crashing, but the wind quickly settled. The light continued to shine out from the abandoned lot. Every officer stared in awe as it slowly faded.

In seconds, boots were on the ground, moving in to create a parameter around the Detective. He stood over the still motionless woman’s form, panting heavily, one hand wrapped around the base of his baton, the other clutching tightly to Lilly’s necklace. The puppets were nowhere to be found, at least not in any whole capacity. They had been completely obliterated. They existed now only as a thin layer of ash and dust covering the empty lot. The wizard’s desiccated husk remained where it had been left.

The ranking officer now on site approached the seemingly dazed young man and lifted a hand to rest it on his shoulder. Much of his armor was badly cracked. Entire panels were missing. It looked as though someone had tried to take him apart piece by piece. And yet Link himself seemed unharmed if terribly exhausted in spite of the earnest look on his face.

“Detective… what the hell happened here?” asked the officer.

Chapter List – – – Next Chapter