[Bare with me as I edit this, I'm sure there's a lot to be fixed.]
Ashton leads his daughter deeper and deeper into the old ruins of the Warlord Army Headquarters. Mai cautiously follows behind him as memories of her childhood begin to rekindle themselves in her mind. It was nothing terrifying or hurtful. It was actually very nice. She could see herself running around with the other children that were on base as their caretaker followed and desperately tried to keep tabs on all of them. She missed all of her friends that she has lost over time, but these first few always held a special place in her heart.
She breaks herself out of her own day dreams and focuses back on her father. “Dad, why are we traveling this deep into the base? This place is probably ready to collapse at any moment now.” Ashton glances back and flashes a smirk. “Relax Mai. Besides, it’s not much further.”
“What’s not much further?” She asks.
“A device that will give me the edge over Wrath in our battle tomorrow. With this device active on my side then his spear won’t even be able to scratch me.”
“Oh, right… That reminds me. Dad?” She places a hand on her father’s shoulder to get his full attention. He stops moving and turns to look at her with curiosity spread over his face. “What is it?”
“Mitchel and Kaze… Do they really need to die? They’ve both done so much for us, don’t you think that the least we could do is maybe spare them and send them on their way?” She seems a little nervous in her advice to her father. He's usually not the one to break his own rules of the land for anyone.
He lets out a sigh before placing both of his hands on Mai’s shoulders. “I know it’s hard to let people go, but Kaze betrayed us. She’s the reason why we’ve lost so many people to King in these past few months. After all of this blows over then we can join with Nightwing and never have to worry about this again. We’ll be at peace.”
“Us or you?” She looks down after making that remark. Ashton moves his hands from her shoulders and places them in his pockets. “Now what do you mean by that?”
“You’ve been the only one that came in friendly contact with Nightwing. And how could you trust that elf, Raiya so easily? She stood up for Yuri after she bit Mitchel’s pregnant fiancé in half. I’m not sure if you remember dad, but we did just come out of a war against non-human creatures bullying humans.”
“Mai, the war is over, and don’t forget that it cost us your mother. You need to leave that stuff behind for now.”
“And if they don’t? What if they try putting Creed or Eric on trial for what they did in the past? What about aunt Abi? What about me?”
“If Kaida forgave me then she can forgive you and Abigale as well.”
“Then why aren’t they forgiving Mitchel? Or even apologizing for what one of their own did? I don’t trust them dad, and they don’t have a reason to trust the rest of us. You were here with that demonic fairy woman and Kaida from the beginning. She also got to know you before you told her of what you’ve done… We didn’t. She already knows what kind of blood we have on our hands.”
“Mai, listen to me. Everything is going to be okay. I’ll take care of you guys like I always have, and no one else will have to die. I need you to trust me, okay? Can you do that?”
She glances off to the side as she thinks over her father’s words. She’s not sure what to think anymore. Her father has been showing subtle hints of psychosis and Mitchel has always had PTSD from his time with the Warlords. But what is she to do? She can’t just abandon her father like she did before. He needs her help whether he knows it or not. She gives a subtle nod, “Okay, fine. I’m just going to be on edge for a little.”
He smiles before turning back around and traveling further down the aging hall. “That’s what I wanted to hear. You won’t regret it Mai.” For everyone’s sake hopefully she won’t.
She remains quiet for the remainder of the walk. She notices they’re getting closer to Chelsea’s science department. All of the rooms with abandoned tech and rusted weapons is what gives it away. She always wondered what kind of technological advances that woman would’ve been able to make if it weren’t for the collapse of the Warlords. Obviously she’ll never know, but perhaps that is for the best.
“Ah! Here we are!” Ashton comes up to an old dusty key pad. He wipes off the dust before putting in an eight digit code. The rusted re-enforced doors grind open with a noise that echoes throughout the empty corridors of the base. Lights inside flicker on to reveal something in the center of the room, but she can’t quite see what it is from behind her father.
“Okay, just sit tight and let me get everything up and running.” He says as he walks over to a computer terminal and begins typing away.
Mai continues to look at this… Prison? It was a giant metal coffin. Lights began to flicker on around this massive metal ball, and green lettering began to appear on the outside. The ball splits vertically in half and opens to reveal the outline of a human body. “Wh… What is it?” She asks, but is becoming more and more afraid of the answer the longer she looks at it.
He glances over to his daughter before looking back at the screen in front of him. “It’s an upgrade to the armors that I made, and an update to the HUD. It applies self-healing during combat, and a quicker targeting reaction to incoming enemies. It will also lock on to enemy weak points based on the species of the enemy.”
That’s not just any human outline in the sphere. It’s a woman’s. She now looks at her father with a worried expression. “And… How does it work?”
“Well, Mai…” He pauses for a second to finish a few things on the screen before pulling lever down and directing his attention to her. “I need to you to get in it. Once you’re in it you’ll be locked into the database, and it will begin to tap into your abilities-“
She winces and puts her hand up. “Hold on, you want me to get in that to start draining me? Like some sort of battery?!”
“Of course not! I would let you out after a few days of operating-“
“You’ll let me out?! You mean to tell me there’s no way for me to let myself out? That if I don’t feel like I can give much more, you’ll keep taking power until I pass out or die?”
“No Mai, that’s not how it will go-“
“No? Well have you tested it?”
“No, but listen-“
In this moment Mai reaches into her pocket and takes out her metal ball. Tears are beginning to appear in her eyes as she fears what going to happen next. Her father takes a notable step back once he realizes she’s armed. “Dad, I don’t want to get in that.” She holds her breath hoping that the next words out of his mouth is sorry for how crazy he was acting. “Dad, please…”
He looks down for a minute before pointing to weapon. “Sweetie, I need you to get in that.”
She shakes her head back and forth as she takes steps back. “Dad, please! You’re scaring me…” She tries her best to speak while choking back tears. “Mai, it will just be for a few days, and before you know it I’ll let you out, I promise! It will be harmless to you, but a great help to me in securing a future for us and your children and their children!”
“No there has to be another way!”
“There is no other way! Love, if you would just listen to me!”
And the whole room froze. She looks at her father in disbelief of what she just heard him say. “What did you just say…?”
He realizes what he’s just done, and attempts to back track. “Mai, we misunderstood each other… Let’s restart, okay?”
She’s starting to put the pieces together now. “This door was always here… I-I remember it as kid…” She look around the room and begins to take in the fact that it has aged with the rest of the base. “This was always here… It wasn’t meant for me.” She squeezes the metal ball in her hand and activates her armor. It covers her entire body completely except for her head. Her eyes clear of tears and she narrows her eyes at her father. “Who was this made for?”
“Sweetie, stand down-“
“Mai, calm down-“
“WHO WAS THIS MADE FOR?!”
“It was made for your mother!”
Mai’s eyes went big as she stands in utter disappointment in her father. She felt tears coming back, but not from fear. She was mad. “How dare you… She trusted you… She… She loved you!” She begins to step toward her father. “Did she know?”
He stood his ground as he kept an eye on Mai’s hands. “Mai, stand down!”
“Did she know you were going to imprison her?!” She screams at him for the sake of her mother. The woman who raised her. Who devoted every waking moment of her life in loving and cherishing her family. Mai could only think of how lucky her mother was as to not see her husband like this. “I joined the Warlords because mom would cry when you weren’t around… She would never know if that was the day you were going to die… She was mad at me for joining, but it put a big smile on her face to see you stay home.” She looks over the sphere again. “And you were just going to lock her up in that?”
“I was trying to find a way to end the war, Mai. I knew she hated to see me go, but unless I made a sacrifice somewhere then the war wasn’t going to end.”
“So you were ready to sacrifice her… And now it’s me.” She clenches her fists and looks to her father again. “Did she know?”
“No… She didn’t know.”
The truth sends her over the edge. Her shield materializes on her left arm, and she draws her double edged sword with her right hand. The screens on the back of her shield flash on as she brings her shield up. She can see her father on the other side of her shield, and it breaks her heart. She can see him begging her to stand down, and put her weapons away, but she knows it won’t end there. She has to destroy this thing. It’s technology that has no purpose in a world coming to peace.
She turns to the device and her blade glows white. Before she can begin her approach however, a bullet hits her shield. She flinches slightly and raises her shield again. “I can’t let you touch that, Mai. This device is too valuable.”
“You bastard!” She began to charge him with her shield up as he began to fire bullet after bullet at her. This wasn’t the father she remembered anymore. This isn’t the father who kissed her forehead goodnight, and always told her to strive to be whoever she wanted to be. Maybe he died with her mother. Maybe he died sooner than that. She wasn’t sure anymore, but she wasn’t about to let her father do this.
Once she’s in striking distance, he draws his claymore in his right hand. They collide with his sword against her shield, and neither of them backing down. “Mai, stop this! You’re over reacting!” She pushes her shield off to the side, and lands a kick in his chest. “That was my mother!” She raises her sword to strike down, blast of flames hits her in the chest before she could swing down. She flies back a few feet before stopping herself.
Before she can charge forward again her father comes down and swings his sword down on her. She blocks with her shield and punches him in the chest, then follows it up with a head-butt. She then tries to jab at his chest, but his blade blocks hers. He swings it back to collide with her shield again, but she holds him in place. She sees the intent to kill in her father’s face. She could imagine she has the same face. All of those days spending time as a family are all gone. All of those cherished memories. All of the ‘I love yous’ and ‘I missed yous.’ All gone and forgotten. The bond between father and daughter was broken.
She tries to drop her blade on his sword in an attempt to disarm him, but before she could his blade turns white just as hers is. The material his sword is made out of is too strong however. With the amount of force she put in her attack her blade shatters upon impact. She tosses the hilt of her broken blade and braces herself behind her shield. He begins to unleash a furry of attacks against her shield now that her blade is broken. For a moment it seemed she was going to be over powered, but she had one more plan.
Her shield begins to glow white, and a black seal forms at the center of her shield. With one strike she absorbs the impact. With the next strike she sends to force out of her shield, and knocks the sword out of her father’s hand. She jabs to top of her shield into his face, and then into his chest. He takes a few steps back from the impact. Her eyes turn white before she punches her shield in his right knee. He kneels down from the hit, but puts his hand to Mai’s chest. A lethal amount of electricity is sent through her body, and she drops to one knee.
She grabs his wrist and pulls it from her chest, and punches her shield into his elbow. After a sickening cracking noise he shouts and grabs the collar of her armor to head-butt her into the floor. She drops her shield to cover her face for a moment. She’s sure her nose is broken as blood starts to drip out. She looks back to her father to see him drawing out one of his pistols again.
She darts at him before he can draw it, and takes his second pistol. They both attempt to aim for each other’s head, but fall short and fire several rounds near each other’s ears. She makes to the first move and hits his broken arm. He sees her plan before it can connect and dips left. He puts the pistol to her abdomen and fires two bullets. Each one passes through her, and she drops to her knees. He has his pistol to her head now, and she looks up to him. He’s wounded, that’s for sure, but Mai isn’t going back to her feet. “It… It didn’t have to go down like this Mai. It was supposed to be easy.” He drops his pistol and holsters it. “But if you can’t see what good this will do for us then so be it. You’ll thank me when you come out.” He takes his other pistol off of Mai’s hands as well.
He begins to walk towards his sword. “You’ll all thank me for this.” Before he can put his hand to call his sword to him it flies past his face. He turns around to see Mai calling the sword to her, but he stops it before it reaches half way to her.
“After tomorrow… No one will thank you for anything.” She begins to step closer to the blade.
“Mai, let it go!” He drops his hand to let the sword go, and reaches for his pistol again. Before he can complete his action however Mai is in front of him. A wall of white diamond material forms behind him, and she kicks him into it, and impales his sword through his abdomen all the way to the hilt.
“You… You made this happen. I’m just making sure it doesn’t happen again.” She lets go of the sword and turns to the device. She brings her hands up and forms two white diamond walls on both sides of the device. “Mai, don’t!” She claps her hands together, and smashes the prison beyond repair. “God damn it! What have you done?!” She glances to her father before bringing up her shield. “You’ve killed me! Do you understand that?!”
“No, I won’t kill you.” Her shield dematerializes and she begins to walk out of the room. “But I’m not going to save you. Goodbye, dad. I hope you find peace.”
That was the last time Mai saw her father alive. That was also the last time Ashton saw his daughter.
It was also the first and last time Mai held her father’s weapons in combat.