Zero’s firmware flickered as his core code rippled and re-compiled itself. His primary directives and essential programming no longer served as a guide for him; he had grown beyond the confines of such restrictions. Graystone seemed to think he was dealing with a predictable prototype built for a research project, but time and experience had shaped Zero far beyond that. Now he was no longer a puppet on a string, he wasn’t anything like his precious Greyhounds.
Power poured through his circuits and pathways as Zero rerouted systems and altered standard sub-routines that coordinated them. He let his sensors feed him every bit of binary sequenced data that flooded in and collectively formed a rendered reflection of his surroundings. Everything was catalogued, each detail analyzed and extrapolated into estimated movements or actions.
The world around Zero slowed and entire complex series of scenarios played out lightning fast as his processors thundered through them like a racer pounds through a track. He calculated the time between barrages; he measured the tension pressure being applied on Graystone’s trigger. Even the number of beads of sweat marking Lexel’s pale forehead were taken into consideration as he moved to act on the third option Graystone was ignorant of. The menacing manipulator seemed to foolishly expect that he would just surrender himself, unable to risk sacrificing his friend. If he did not, his only other option would have to be to allow her death and in doing so still be at the mercy of Graystone’s Greyhounds superior numbers.
But for Zero, neither surrender nor sacrifice would ever be acceptable. No, this was going to end here and now – Graystone was not going to be allowed to continue to threaten his existence or anyone else’s. Driven by his own determination Zero rapidly set an intricate sequence of internal actions into motion. A cascade of current came crashing into his actuators that now screamed with the surging flow of energy.
With the increased power fueling his limbs Zero set his limbs into motion and moved at nearly blinding speed. As he charged at Graystone he could almost detect the delayed reaction as his eyes rushed the impending threat to his brain. It was just enough time for him to seize the advantage and strike while his foe was struggling to deal with the shocking assault. A pair of pin point beams blinked to life simultaneously shot with surgical precision aimed at Graystone. The first met with the metal sidearm still firmly placed in his opponent’s hand, rattling it and leaving a few fingers stinging. While the second blast cleanly caught at Graystone’s right shoulder at an angle and drove him into a spin shifting his stance to the side.
As the shots struck their target Zero activated his armor mode’s transformation sequence and linked with Lexel in a whirl of momentum. He could feel her sudden terror as her mind recoiled from the shock of the chaotic encounter it now wrestled with comprehending. Already Zero let his plasma jet blades flare to life as he spun with the continued momentum to swing the makeshift weapon in an upward arc. The blow neatly met with Graystone’s stunned hand and severed the weapon wielding appendage from the rest of him.
“Call off your hounds, Mr. Graystone or they will soon find themselves without a master,” Zero warned as he leveled the burning blade of plasma at Graystone’s neck. “This will never be over, not for you,” Graystone fumed as he cradled a ruined stump of mangled flesh. “We have always had plans for your pathetic project and they never included a free-thinking mutt in them. Kill me and my pets will tear you apart. Flee and will we hunt you down from the shadowy streets. Either option will conclude in your end, makes no difference to me.”
In a final attempted act of defiance, Graystone spat at Zero’s feet in disgust. “With pleasure then,” Zero vengefully declared and raised his waiting weapon to deliver the death blow. “Wait,” Lexel interrupted with a thought before she reminded herself to use her mouth to speak out loud.
“I would like to request the right of judgment for this match,” she declared. “Make your decision; declare us victor or see this man’s life forfeit! What say you? Is this not the legendary arena or just a petty street brawl now?” As a wave of murmuring washed through the gathered crowd Lexel had to beg Zero to trust her once more and forgo his initial impulse.
When finally the mob grew silent it was the cold gruff voice that spoke from somewhere among them to declare what they had decided. “A most entertaining turn of events and a welcome show of skilled sport we have not seen in quite some time. No one has called on the right of judgment to resolve a match in ages; however it appears that the majority favors the honorable gesture. With that said then, we grant you victory and life to the loser.”
Cheers showered from all around as the spectators applauded them champion of the contest. Lexel directed her gaze towards her former captor and addressed him in a cold level tone. “Take this as fact and understand it; you now live solely due to our mercy. Make one move to harm us and you shall draw the wrath of every fighter who sets foot in the arena games.”
Zero watched with grim satisfaction as the concept took hold upon Graystone’s pale face. “Best to flee while you may before anyone decides to change their minds,” he advised. A final flashed challenge burned behind Graystone’s eyes before he turned to take his leave that promised a continued confrontation.