Knightfall leaned on the cold wall next to him, his arms crossed and his trusty sword on his side, observing Neon city from the roof of a large skyscraper. The stars shimmered faintly due to the bright glow of the buildings. E-trees littered the roads with their fake glowing green leaves, neon billboards hovered next to many buildings, giant holograms floated around the city, hovercars raced through the streets... Knightfall took a long breath, and absorbed the sights for one last time. He wouldn’t admit to anyone, but he did enjoy his three year stay in this dimension... And now, it was finally time to bid adieu.
His black super-suit with shining silver armour pieces on it reflected the pink and purple glow of the city below him as he stood up properly and raised his arm to check how long he had left. The holographic interface showed that he only had twenty minutes left, and Renegade, as usual, was taking his sweet time to make an entrance.
He clicked a button on the back of his helmet and it opened up from the front, letting him breathe the steely air of the city. Saying goodbye to his friends and his team had been difficult, but somehow saying goodbye to a city he didn’t like, and a villain he constantly fought, was tougher... This didn’t make any sense to him. He took off the helmet and held it in his hand.
Suddenly the calm of the night was interrupted by a large triangular ship tearing into the sky as its invisibility panels became disabled. The large menacing vessel slowly approached the superhero, its boosters spewing orange flames on the sides, the noise of its engines filling the air. His nemesis emerged from the top of the ship, his dark green supersuit lighting up with small red gadgets, his purple cape flickering due to the wind. There it was: Renegade’s big entrance. Knightfall held his forehead and sighed.
The large ship slowly came to a halt and Renegade flew closer to Knightfall. He was someone in his early twenties. Still a kid; intelligent, but dumb. “You wanted me, here I am!”
“I can see that,” the superhero said. “Everyone can see that.”
“Do you really think you can throw me into prison again?”
“Oh, for the love of-”
“Not this time!” The villain was too focused on the speech he had rehearsed to notice Knightfall wasn’t wearing his helmet.
“Listen, I didn’t call you here for-”
“Prepare yourself, for a world of pain!” He picked up the golden hilt from his belt and turned it on. A large red laser sword lit up, illuminating his eye mask. He let out a villain laugh, and continued, “You have no idea-”
He stopped talking and hovered silently in the air, his mouth agape, as he saw a face replace Knightfall’s helmet. It was the face of the renowned thirty five year old CEO of Coyl industries: Koren Coyl.
“Wh- why-” He stuttered while waving his laser sword towards Coyl’s face. “You just... Gave away your secret identity.”
“That I did.” He dropped the red helmet on the floor.
“Why did you do that?” Renegade was genuinely angry now. “You ruined everything!”
“Well, if it’s any consolation, ‘Koren Coyl’ isn’t my real name, thank God. I just wanted the alliteration-”
“Why did you do that?!” He repeated loudly. “Now I have to give away my secret identity!”
“What? Why?” Coyl stopped for a second and collected his thoughts. “Look, I don’t have time for this.”
“Then why did you call me here?”
“To tell you that I’m leaving!”
Renegade flew down and landed on the roof of the building, the sword still in his hand. “Leaving the city?” He chuckled. “There is no place where I won’t find you.”
“Leaving this dimension.” Knightfall raised his left hand to show him the interface. “In seventeen minutes.”
“You can travel between dimensions?”
“My ship can.”
“Wh- this is your dimension!”
“No, it’s not.” He crossed his arms. “I came here to replenish ultra-fuel for the people in my dimension. My ship will carry that fuel back there, with or without me.”
“When will you return?”
Knightfall sighed. “I’m not coming back, Renegade.”
“Wait a second, then who’s going to protect the city?”
“The team, of course.”
“Those three bumbling buffoons?” His red sword created a buzzing sound as he waved it around.
“They’re capable enough to beat you.”
“They got lucky that time, it won’t happen again.”
“Why does this bother you so much?” Knightfall walked closer, his silver armour pieces reflecting the red light of the sword. “You should be happy. The city’s your playground now, at least for a little while, and I’m not going to be there to stop y-”
“If we’re not going to fight each other then what’s the point?” He yelled. “What’s the point of you being a superhero, me being a villain?”
“Don’t worry. Some other villain will come along in my dimension. Someone always does.”
“But I’m your archnemesis, goddamnit!”
“OK...” Coyl let out a condescending laugh. “You are not my archnemesis.”
Renegade raised his sword towards Coyl’s throat. Its blade buzzed loudly with energy. Knightfall knew he wasn’t going to kill him, but his hand instinctively reached for his own sword sheathed on his waist.
“Really?” Renegade said, circling around the superhero, gripping the sword firmly. “Then who is?”
“I don’t have one.” He checked the interface again. Fifteen minutes left. “For the past decade, I travelled from dimension to dimension, defeating villains. Not because I wanted to restore peace, but because I wanted to be a superhero. I wanted to fight bad guys.”
“Same reason why you’re here?”
“No. My travels consumed too much ultra-fuel, and I was sent here to fix my mistake. That was my mission, not you.” He stared at Renegade. “Look, I know you’re not going to kill me. But even if you do, my work is done. And I learnt my lesson. Might as well just let me go. You’ll find another superhero nemesis to battle; I’m sure you will.”
Renegade stopped circling Coyl, the sword still near his throat. He thought for a few moments, and Knightfall waited, growing more and more impatient by the second.
Finally, the villain turned off his sword and put the hilt on his belt. “I’m not going to kill you.” He flew up in the air and hovered. “Go.”
Knightfall slowly nodded. Renegade flew back towards his large ship. As he entered, it turned invisible again. The superhero picked his helmet up with telekinesis and walked towards his hovercar. Everything was done; it was now time to head back.
The journey back to his ship was a long one. He had to put the ship far away from the city to keep it hidden, and to keep the city safe. His car zoomed past the rocky terrain, devoid of any real animals, with glowing e-trees around the place. He only had ten minutes left.
“I’ll be there soon, V,” Knightfall said to the AI. “Prepare for takeoff.”
He expected an enthusiastic reply, but instead heard loud static.
He frowned and stared at the console in front of him. Everything else was working fine. A technical issue was highly unusual. “V? You there?”
He switched to the onboard AI. “Jim? You alright?”
“Of course,” The other AI replied.
“Alright, run troubleshooting, see if there’s any problem with comms, make sure the ship is safe and secure.”
“Right away, sir.”
“God, if anything goes wrong now-”
“Defens...” V shouted in a loud voice. “Defensive...” Her voice was interrupted by static.
“V? What the hell is going on?”
“—Is tracking... Defensive procedur-”
V’s voice was completely gone now. Knightfall had a guess as to what was going on, and was filled with dread.
“Jim, run a deep scan,” He said quickly. “Reroute 80% power to processors. Search for Renegade’s signatures.”
The lights from inside the car and from the console dimmed. Jim said in a monotone voice, “Scanning... Complete. The inter-dimensional ship’s network is being attacked. 96% match found. It is highly likely you are being tracked by Renegade, sir.” The lights began glowing again.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” He opened up the glass window on top of the hovercar and stood on top of it, then unsheathed his blue metal sword. Raising it vertically upwards, he pressed a button and the sword let out a white beam of energy high up. The beam hit something in the sky, and its invisibility panels slowly disabled. The triangular ship flickered into existence directly above Knightfall, and the loud noise of the boosters returned.
He went back into the car and rerouted all power to the thrusters. The lights grew dim again, and he flew straight towards Renegade’s ship.
“Scan the schematics of that ship,” He ordered Jim. “Find a weakness to those boosters!”
“There exists a weakness into the side of the ship, sir, right into the last booster.” The ship’s diagram lit up on the glass window/screen, with the weak point blinking. “I do not recommend flying the car into the booster, sir. The flames will kill you immediately.”
“Really? Thanks for the advice.”
The hovercar shot upwards. Once close enough, Knightfall ejected out of his car and landed on top of the ship. He then used telekinesis to make his car float in the air, towards the booster. The orange flames began tearing the hovercar down, but he ultimately succeeded and the car flew straight through. A large explosion pushed him back. While in the air, he shot a grapple from his wrist which attached itself to the ship, and slowly got back on it.
The ship was falling towards the ground now. A large, dense trail of smoke came out of the boosters. Sparks of red lightning appeared from the sides. Knightfall slowly raised his arms to steer Renegade’s ship away from his inter-dimensional one.
The supervillain finally popped out of the cockpit and floated in the air, the sword glowing in his right hand. He pointed his left hand and shot purple beams of energy towards Knightfall. Evading the beams while balancing himself, the hero tried to get closer to Renegade. He shot a white beam of energy from his sword, which the villain deflected with his red sword.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Knightfall yelled. “Why are you doing this, kid? I thought we were good!”
“You said I wasn’t your archnemesis!” He replied snarled. “Well, I’ll be your archnemesis once I destroy your only way back home!”
Four gadgets jumped out of his suit. They turned into drones, and each pair flew to each side of the ship. Two drones shot cables that joined the left side of the ship to some rocks and began reeling the ship in, while the other two created blue explosions on the right. Together they steered the vessel back towards where Knightfall’s ship was supposed to be.
Coyl began trying to steer it to the left to avoid collision, but Renegade interrupted by shooting beams of energy at him.
“You have no idea what you’re doing!” He yelled. “My ship is carrying tons of ultra-fuel! It will level this place to kingdom come!”
“And both of us will go down with it!” He screamed and fired a dense, powerful beam of energy. Knightfall tried to parry with his blue sword, but after a few seconds it shot out of his hands. He quickly used telekinesis to pull it back, then grabbed it and cut a circle around where he was standing. He fell right down into the ship.
If he couldn’t steer the ship away, he could destroy it instead. He checked the interface: seven minutes left. He didn’t care if he couldn’t make it, but he had to get the ultra-fuel out of this dimension.
He ran through the metal interiors of the ship, scrambling to find the coolant tanks. He had fought Renegade in this ship countless times before; finding the tanks wasn’t going to be difficult.
He quickly found the route to the coolant system. There was a thin bridge leading to a console which controlled the system, and four large cooling tanks suspended around the bridge inside the room. He began running across the bridge, when suddenly an explosion threw him back.
He recovered his senses and quickly jumped to his feet. Renegade had found him.
“I will not let you leave!” He proclaimed, his sword aiming straight ahead.
Coyl hurled his sword towards the enemy, who easily dodged it; but he wasn’t aiming for him. Behind Renegade, the sword dug into the wall of the ship. He used telekinesis to cut another large circle, making a hole in the wall.
Using his superpower, he pushed the villain back towards the hole. While in the air, Renegade quickly recovered his balance and hovered above, then dodged as the sword returned in Knightfall’s hand. Shooting energy beams, Renegade flew towards his nemesis, who barely dodged the red sword. He landed between Coyl and the console.
Knightfall armed two weapons on his wrists and shot red lasers towards Renegade’s sword. The sword split the laser beams into multiple weaker beams, which shot across the large room, melting the tanks’ supports.
Around them, the tanks fell and broke, releasing cooling material everywhere. Biting cold filled the room, and the console was covered in frost.
Renegade screamed and charged at Knightfall with his sword. Their swords clashed and their teeth chattered due to the cold. The ship itself was starting to overheat – it would take a few more seconds for it to explode.
“We’re both going to die!” Renegade yelled. “You’ve doomed us both!”
“I doomed myself long ago,” Knightfall replied. “And you’re not going to die!”
With his right hand still holding the blue sword, he bent Renegade’s wrist with his left hand and hit his face with the hilt of his blue sword. He then seized Renegade’s golden hilt while disabling the red blade and kicked him into the frozen console. Dropping both swords, he used telekinesis with both his hands to hurl the villain outside the hole he created earlier. Screaming in rage, he flew out of the ship; he should be safe.
Panting, he checked the interface. Four minutes left.
He closed his eyes, waiting for his demise.
For a fleeting second, he felt rage; Renegade had robbed him of the opportunity to see his friends again, to see his family again. But ultimately, he was satisfied; in his death, he would correct his mistake and allow his people to travel across dimensions again. Whether he arrives or not, they would know that he redeemed himself.
A beeping noise interrupted his wait. He turned around, but couldn’t see anything.
Suddenly something lifted him off the air and carried him out of the ship through the hole.
Before he could make sense of what was going on, the ship exploded in front of him. It shot him back with a great force, and he plummeted towards the ground, near his secret hangar.
He crashed and tumbled into the ground. His ears were still ringing from the large explosion. Completely disoriented, he slowly got up and administered a med kit to recover his senses. His silver armour was scattered around him in pieces, and there was a broken drone with a thruster attached to it in front of him. It was Renegade’s drone.
He finally realised what was going on.
“That’s right,” the villain’s voice came from beside him. He was also down on the ground, injured but mostly fine. Knightfall took off his broken helmet and stared at him, while he laughed loudly. “I figured you were gonna try and kill yourself, so I put that drone on your back. I’m the one who gets to kill you, not you.”
Knightfall weakly got up, and immediately checked the interface. Three minutes.
“The villain saving the hero,” Renegade said. “Who would’ve thunk?”
“Thought,” Knightfall corrected.
“Always sucking the joy out of everything. That’s what I hate about you.”
Coyl looked ahead. The inter-dimensional ship was a few feet away, waiting for him.
“So what’s the plan, Koren Coyl?” Renegade asked as he got up on his feet. “What happens now? I mean, you kinda ruined everything.”
“You know what,” Knightfall said, “You really are my archnemesis, Rick.”
Renegade was taken aback. “What did you just say?”
“You heard me. And yeah, I know your real identity. You worked in my company, until you got superpowers.”
Rick stared at him, completely frozen.
“You think that eye mask protects your identity, kid? Eye masks are stupid.” He rubbed the dust off his suit. “One facial scan and I knew who you were. You have no family, no friends. Your life sucks. And your only escape: being a supervillain. You vent your frustrations out on the world, and you fight me, your nemesis, like in the comic books you read.”
Rick was still frozen, confused.
“Neon City is not a good place to live. The people here are cold, and cruel. But I can help you, truly help you, in my world. You’ve got nothing here but a criminal record, but in my world, you can be normal. You can have people that care about you. This is your chance at redemption, Rick. Same as mine. I mean, you saved my life; you’re a hero in my eyes.”
He took a few moments to process his thoughts.
“What do you say?” Coyl asked, showing him the interface. “Time’s running out; you better make your decision quick.”
He took off his eye mask, and sighed. “Alright. I’ll come.”
The two enemies together walked into the large ship, which geared up for inter-dimensional travel.
“This doesn’t mean I’ll have to become a lame superhero, right?” Rick asked.
Coyl laughed. “That’s up to you.”