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         Chapter 9, part 4

    Paragon hurried quietly down the hallway. He had been forced to abandon his magnetic boots, as they would have made too much noise on the castle's stone floor. But with the sword earthbound, they would have been of little use.
    As he reached an intersection in the hallway, he heard footsteps approaching from the hall to his left. Pressing himself against the adjacent wall, he waited.
    There were two of them, and they were moving faster than the ones that came to his room. They weren't searching, they were converging; meeting up with the others to surround their target.
    The first one didn't bother looking down the hallway where Paragon waited. The second one glanced to his left and then to his right, just in time to see Paragon leap out and grab him. Before the man could even gather his wits, Paragon grabbed him by the collar and started punching him repeatedly across the face.
    The first man turned back and aimed his assault rifle at Paragon, but with the two fighting hand to hand, he couldn't get a clean shot.
    Paragon dealt his opponent one last punch to the face, knocking him unconscious, before throwing his limp form at the remaining foe.
    Paragon did not wait for him to recover from the impact, but rushed the attacker. He grabbed the assault rifle before it could be turned at him and forced the barrel to one side.
    As both men vied for control of the weapon, Paragon gripped it with both hand and turned his back to his opponent. With a magnetic click, the gun latched to the back plate of the his body armor. He turned his body this way and that, like a bull trying to throw a rider from its back. Finally, the intruder released the gun, and staggered back, reaching for a side arm as he tried to right his balance.
    Once more, Paragon ran at him. He gripped the man's right hand with his left and forced it to the side.
    Once, twice, three times, Paragon slammed his fist into the man's torso. The man then countered with a left hook, which connected with Paragon's cheek with a crack.
    In that instant, he thought back and realized that it had been a long time since an unpowered human being had been able to strike him and inflict real, physical pain. It simply didn't happen all that often.
    The man threw his fist again, but Paragon ducked under and pummeled the enemy's mid section before finishing with a solid uppercut. The sound of teeth crashing signaled the man's defeat as he staggered back before collapsing, unconscious, to the ground. It had been an equally long time since he'd had to throw a punch at a human being without holding back. He had grown so accustomed to regulating his strength as to keep from pulverizing every criminal he encountered, that he had been worried for a moment that the habit might hinder his fighting strength when he needed it most. But as it turned out, he found it very easy to put all of his power into each punch. As it turned out, the only thing that worried him was how natural it all was.
    "Don't make a habit of this," he said to himself. "It's just the circumstance. This isn't normal for you. Remember that."

    Protocol stated that he should bind the intruders before moving on, but with his beloved in jeopardy, he simply couldn't take the time. So he disabled both men's radios with a silenced pistol taken from one of the two. He took their weapons, kept what he needed, and threw the rest out a window as he ran down the hall towards the gallery.

    Paragon hated using guns. It just felt so wrong to him. This was an easy opinion for him to have, being bullet proof and super-humanly strong, but it still didn't change the fact of the matter. It was the principle of the thing. Despite having such an opinion, he found himself armed with an assault rifle, and it gave him a sick, guilty feeling. But with Sycorax in danger and his powers drained, he hadn't the luxury to be picky about his armaments. Her safety was more important to him than his means of preserving it.
    As he hurried through the old stone corridors, thoughts began to course through his mind unbidden.
    “Am I really willing to hurt these men?” he asked himself, looking down at the weapon in his hands. “Am I willing to use such force? I didn't want this. They forced this on me! It's not my fault! We just wanted to be left in peace. They're the ones trying to hurt us. Am I not justified in protecting our innocent lives, by whatever means we are forced to take?”
    The gun felt heavy in his hands, as if all the harm it had done in the past still weighed on it. It was as if the thing itself had a conscience-- not a conscience of thought, but a tangible one with physical density.
    He shook his head and focused on what lie before him.

    Continuing down the hall, he turned a corner and saw another Retribution trooper standing in front of a door.
    Paragon stepped back behind the corner before the enemy could turn to see him. Peeking from behind cover, he saw that the man stood with one hand outstretched, reaching for the door knob. But after a moment, Paragon realized that the man was perfectly still, and not simply cautious. As the hero approached, he saw that the still man had a violet sheen, as if he were under a colored light. But as he came closer, he saw that the light was not shining on of him, but from him. Certainly the work of some magical trap.
    The door was slightly ajar, and the door knob that the man seemed to have been reaching for was a slightly tarnished silver, while most others were well-polished brass. He remembered Sycorax warning him of different kinds of door knobs and handles in different parts of the castle. Here, it seemed that brass was safe, while silver was not. He made a mental note of this to himself as he gently pushed the door open and continued on towards the gallery.
NEXT
chapter 9, part 5

PREVIOUS
chapter 9, part 3

FIRST
chapter 1, part 1



I want to make one thing clear up front-- the whole thing with the guns is not in any way meant to be any kind of pro or anti gun message. This is purely Paragon's mental reaction to the situation, and his personal opinion and philosophical views. This is not meant to promote or condemn gun ownership in any way, nor do his views necessarily reflect my own.

I'm really starting to second guess myself, and wonder if this is even any good. I wonder if I'm straying too far from what Hero's Dilemma has been about up to this point, and if it's getting too action-oriented and dark. Nevertheless, I have to finish the story. "The show must go on", as they say.

Questions? Comments? Whatever? Your feedback is always appreciated!

and as always, Don't Forget To Be Awesome!
:iconrainbow-acey:
Rainbow-Acey Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
eehh
The 'couldn't aim' thing is a bit strange considering the other guy doesn't seem to have the chance to fight back, which wouldn't really cause much movement...so I assume the guy with the rifle is just a poor shot.

"As both men vied for control of the weapon, Paragon gripped it with both hand and"
hands.

aww if those guys were able to witness the weapons being just defenestrated like that I'm sure they'd be in evil tears.

the use of a gun is kind of instantly disabling, or instant-kill. That doesn't seem to be Paragon's way. He seems to prefer just teaching lessons, sometimes with his fists, that don't instantly or permanently disable the opponent. Cause that doesn't always teach a lesson. It usually makes things worse...? Just an opinion :meow:

"But as he came closer, he saw that the light was not shining on of him, but from him" this seems...oddly worded >>

this was a pretty intense chapter by the way :o I really liked it.

I never do get any time to read this soon after they're posted though, so today's starting off good :aww:
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:iconwilldabeast-0305:
Willdabeast-0305 Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, that scene was a bit difficult for me to word correctly. Though it is actually very difficult to accurately fire at someone in close-combat with someone you don't want to hit. I should have had a more back-and-forth fight between them. Some day I plan to revise the whole story-- editing and re-wording a lot of it. I'll probably fix this scene up a bit, too.

I don't know how I keep missing these things. Thanks

Q _ Q

Yeah, Paragon doesn't like to use anything that permanently harms. The flying sword, for example, can be used to knock someone out, it can function as a shield, and it's even a mode of transportation.

I probably could have phrased it better. Maybe I'll go back and reword it later.
But I think it's still pretty clear, at least. Right?

Thanks! I'm kind of anxious about these last few episodes, by the way. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. I just want to make sure it's good.

Yeah, I'm surprised I got a response so soon.
Thanks again for your input, opinions, and thoughts. I really appreciate it!
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:iconrainbow-acey:
Rainbow-Acey Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
revising is always stacks of fun :dummy: I can't wait for all the updates, cause then I can re-read it
:icongrinstareplz:

yes it does seem clear! :thumbsup:

I have been liking the chapters more with every update to be honest, so maybe that can punch the feeling of anxiousness in the face. Perhaps Paragon style :lol:

:aww:
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October 4, 2016
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