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[Open] Adapting To A New Environment

#21
Imai pockets his knife after catching the blaster. He must have been blessed by Lady Luck to already get his blaster back, but he has no time to thank her. Imai fires on the crate-bound gangsters. The two frontmost gangsters are shot down as they run across the board. The rest of the crate-bound gangsters scatter off their perch as Imai’s shots whiz by them, with Kentigern and Shug firing poorly aimed shots at Imai as they escape. Several gangsters land painfully on the ground, while a couple others roll down the boxes below them. Imai immediately turns toward the gangster swarm down below and provides cover fire for Peter and Sinclair. As individuals are shot down one by one, a wave of panic and confusion runs through the crowd. The gangsters scatter, some running for cover while others barrel straight for Imai. The few gangsters still fighting Peter quickly fall to his cuts and bashes. Imai sees this occur out of the corner of his eye, and takes a moment to check on Peter. He has stopped in place with his knees bent and his sword at his side. His furious expression has turned to one that is calmer and wearier. The number of hits Peter took is shown by his padded armor, which is covered in several notable dents and tears, and blood is trickling out from under his sleeves. Imai returns his focus to the crowd and takes aim, but then he notices that Sinclair is in trouble.

More gangsters have surrounded Sinclair, with the leader standing in front, pointing a blaster at his head. All that's keeping Sinclair from experiencing their wrath are his threats toward the struggling hostage in his grasp. Imai would go to help, if in the next instant he didn't see the flash of a pistol in the corner of his eye. He looks, then jumps behind the crate for cover as the powerful payload of Peter's energy pistol narrowly misses him. As Imai balances on the edge of the crate below the top crate, Shug shouts, "Die ye bastard!"

Another powerful shot blasts a hole in Imai's covering crate. The shaking nearly throws Imai off-balance. He slams his back against the crate and raises his blaster. "Shit!" He says out loud, before noticing the gangsters climbing up after him. With no options, he retreats deeper into the warehouse, diving from cover to cover as he alternates between firing at the chasing gangsters and firing at Shug.

As Imai is chased off, Peter makes a snap decision to save Sinclair first. He grits his teeth and makes a vicious warface as he steps over an unconscious body, then breaks out into a run. The gangsters, with fearful looks in their eyes, raise their poles and start to charge forward, but then Kentigern's voice booms, "HOLD IT!" The gangsters stop and look wide-eyed back at their leader. "Let him get a good look at this!" A few gangsters nod before they all spread out, allowing Peter to see Sinclair's sticky situation. Peter's warface drops; now his look is one of subdued anger and bewilderment. He lowers his sword, letting it hang by his side. The leader turns to face Peter, his pistol still trained on Sinclair's head. All that can be heard is the gunfire being exchanged by Imai and Shug. Kentigern gives a pissed-off smile as he stares right into Peter's eyes. "Ya piece of shit. I didn't expect a Prime to be visitin' my headquarters today."

"How do you know I'm a Prime?" Peter asks between breaths. There is a loud THWACK! And then the gunfire goes silent. For a moment, Peter glances at where the sound came from, but he immediately goes back to staring at Kentigern.

Unphased by the sound, Kentigern says, "Look around you! You killed half me men! No ordinary person can do that!"

Peter is silent.

"Now what I want to know is," Kentigern ponders, "why are you here? You some kinda vigilante thinkin’ he's doin' the right thing?"

Peter laughs out his nose. "That's the second time someone's called me that." He tugs at his padded armor. "I didn't expect this to be considered the 'vigilante look' around here."

"Focus, Peter!" Sinclair shouts.

Kentigern looks back at Sinclair with a great fury. "You shut the fuck up you upper tier brat. This is between me and the Prime!" The situation is interrupted by a sudden shuffling of feet coming from the opposite side of the crate pile. Three gangsters, with Imai laying limp in their grasp, emerge from the deeper end of the warehouse. Peter's and Sinclair's eyes widen, while Kentigern gives a hearty laugh. Imai is knocked out, with blood leaking out the side of his head. His eyelids are lightly fluttering. The alien-faced gangsters is standing behind Imai and has his staff pressed against Imai's throat. The staff is slightly spattered with blood. The two other gangsters are standing at opposite ends of Imai and holding his arms. The one to his right has gotten a hold of Imai's pistol, and is aiming it at his head. Kentigern's grin becomes more satisfied than angry. "That's some good thinking, you three. If the Prime or knife-man make any moves, shoot him." Kentigern looks back at Peter. Peter glances around the room and notes that there's nine gangsters left, then realizes there's a tenth gangster: Shug, who is peeking from behind one of the boxes. No doubt Shug's intending on giving him a surprise shot. Peter looks back at Kentigern with a frown.

"Son of a bitch." Peter thinks. "All I can do is stall. Damn it all!" Memories of his recent failures flash through his mind. Servo, caught in the monster's maw. A tendril going straight through Esther's back. Peter's arm shakes for a moment, but he calms himself.

Kentigern says, "Where were we? Ah, yes. So what the fuck are you doin' here if you ain't a vigilante?!"

Peter thinks for a bit.

"Hmmm..." Kentigern analyzes Peter's beaten condition. "For a Prime, you ain't looking too good. You must be a newbie." He says.

"Yes... I am new to the Omniverse." Peter says. "You want to know why I'm down here? I’m not here because I was looking for a fight. I was just searching for some way out of this universe."

Kentigern laughs for a moment, but his humor fades quickly. He looks at Peter with a furrowed brow, while tilting his head in wonder.

"At the time, it wasn't because I hated this place. I just wanted to return to my team." His hand instinctively reaches for his gauntlet, but he stops himself. "But having been here for a good while, I think we can both agree that this place is terrible. What I have to ask is, why the hell are you actively worsening this place?"

This hits a nerve. "It ain't us that's fuckin' this place up!" Kentigern shouts. "We've been pushed down on; downtrodden by the stormtroopers who control us, the rich who deny us life in their Tiers, and our baby-killin' rivals in this neighborhood! It's eat or be eaten because of them, if we don't follow that rule then we'll just be dead, dead, dead!" Kentigern has lost all composure; his face has gone completely red and it's taking all he has to keep his blaster pointed at Sinclair. The gangsters have turned all their attention on him, with eyes wide as dinnerplates. Some of them back away from him. "It's too late for us now! We're in this shithole, doin' what we can to survive! It's all about survival, and nothing more. Nothin' we can do to strive for somethin' greater." It feels good for Kentigern to let out some of that anger. He sighs deeply, inadvertently averting his eyes from Peter. When he looks back at Peter, he notices Peter's expression has changed. Peter is struggling not to smile, and this sight enrages Kentigern. "THAT'S ALL FUNNY TO YOU?!" He screams.

"S-sir--!" A gangster says. Kentigern looks, and his face turns to complete shock. Sinclair is gone, having escaped while everyone's attention was on Kentigern! The hostage, along with two other gangsters who tried to stop Sinclair, are lying dead on the floor.

Peter finally smiles. "Took you long enough to notice." He looks up at Shug for a moment; he too is now laying dead, as yet another silent victim of Sinclair's.

The irony that his own temper tantrum was the distraction Sinclair used to escape is not lost on Kentigern. He flips around. "YOU STUPID BASTARD!!" He looks at the gangsters holding Imai. "KILL HI-!" Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Sinclair drops onto those gangsters and pulls the pistol away from Imai's head. Shirk! He jams his knife into the pistol wielding gangster's heart! As the gangster lets go of Imai's arm and falls to the ground, the salaryman suddenly moves! He must've woke up at some point, but pretended to remain unconscious! Imai pulls out his knife and shoves it into the alien-headed gangster's side, then backwards-headbutts his nose. As the alien-head topples, the final gangster raises a fist, only for Sinclair to dash past him with a swift slash! As a cut opens up on the gangster's chest and he steps back in pain, Sinclair finishes him with a throat stab!

Kentigern and his remaining gangsters hardly have time to react to the sudden slaughter, because they hear Peter charging straight for them! Kentigern takes aim at Peter, but with a loud bang a hole opens up in his left arm! Kentigern lurches back, screaming in agony as he looks to his left. He sees Sinclair aiming Peter's pistol at him. Kentigern opens fire on Sinclair, forcing him and Imai to duck behind a crate for cover. At the same time, the three gangsters confront Peter. One swings his stick, but Peter parries the blow before slashing his neck. The second charges with stick raised, but Peter blocks him from swinging the stick by raising his arm, then bashes the hilt of his sword into the gangster's temple. The third hesitates. Peter dashes right past him, slashing straight through his throat without a second thought as he runs at Kentigern, who notices him! Kentigern aims his blaster at Peter. Just before he pulls the trigger, Peter stops and twists his whole body as he brings his sword to Kentigern's arm. The shot misses as the sword pushes Kentigern's arm away, cutting into it deeply and forcing him to drop the gun! Kentigern screams again, as Peter slams his foot into the side of Kentigern's knee! The leg bends the wrong way under Peter's weight; with a crack Kentigern topples to the floor! Pure instinct takes over as Peter stands tall on Kentigern's broken leg. He cuts Kentigern's neck, then plunges his sword into Kentigern's side! There is a long pause. Then, the leader coughs up blood. He's in too much pain to get up. His pupils dilate as his heart races. Though he refuses to accept it, he knows that it's all over. All he can do is press his hand against the cut on his neck to try and delay the inevitable.

Peter stares down at Kentigern. For a few moments, he is silent, only deeply breathing in and out. "I need to admit something: I understand why you've chosen this life. Though I don't fully trust the perspective you gave me of this world, I can tell you've been legitimately wronged. Did you have a happy life once?"

Kentigern gives a sad look at Peter. He coughs up some more blood. "Y-yes..." He says with a quiet, raspy voice. "Before I--" He coughs several times. "I-- was summoned--" More coughing interrupts him.

Peter takes a deep breath through his nose. His eyes become wet. "I'm sorry... but only to a certain point. I understand why you've chosen this life, but I won't accept it. No matter how terrible your life has turned out, that gives you no right to hurt innocent people! Sinclair, Kazuhiro, and I had nothing against you before your men forcibly dragged us to this shithole. If that's how you treat everybody who just walks by, then you've been part of the problem."

Kentigern is silent. For several moments, not a single response comes out of him. Then, his eyes roll back into his head. With a terrible groan, he expires.
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