Reaching for his own energy blade, he prepared to confront this deadly intruder in the hopes of finding out this stranger’s intentions, and if nothing else, put an end to this senseless slaughter.
“And just where the hell do you think you’re goin’?” a voice demanded from behind.
Max turned to see the two hijackers who were previously controlling the crane. “It’s you…” the other one remarked, and it clicked. Though Max couldn’t see his face under that helmet, he could place the voice just fine: one of the men who accosted Shan in the fish market the day before.
“So that’s what you were doing there…” Shades had told him those guys seemed out of place in the Kona Islands, and this confirmed it. At a loss for time and patience, as every second gave that intruder more ground in his cutting a bloody swath through everyone else onboard, Max whipped out his laser sword, sweeping both of them with his stun blade even as they paused in mid attack at the sight of his weapon. “You’re not getting away this time.”
He then turned his attention back to what he was now instinctively certain was the real threat aboard this ship.
By now, the surviving hijackers had taken up stray tools and implements as makeshift weapons in a desperate attempt to slow this unexpectedly deadly adversary’s advance.
As he felled his current opponent, slicing the business end off a wildly swung sledge hammer and backhanding its user, the dark stranger turned to Max as he approached, sensing right away that this opponent was completely different from the rest of these, demanding, “Who are you? You’re not part of the Seeker crew.”
To which Max replied, “If you want to know somebody’s name, it’s only polite to give your own first. Who are you, and whose side are you on?”
“The dead have no need of my name,” the stranger answered. “And the only side I’m on is mine.” Then, almost as an afterthought, added: “Oh, and thanks for taking out the trash, but this is my ship now, and I don’t need any help. Got it, pretty-boy?”
“The name is Max,” Max told him, assuming his fighting stance, “and I can’t let you do that.”
“Heroes die young.”
With that, the stranger powered down the claws and whipped out an electric- blue laser sword of his own, letting his blade do the talking. Impressed as he was by the way this guy handled himself, he now understood that he was also the most dangerous enemy on this battlefield, having demonstrated that he was willing and able to kill anyone who got in his way. After Justin’s EMP attack, he was confident that the Island Patrol could handle the now mostly defanged raiders, but he had a sinking feeling this one was more than either side bargained for.
Max was able to block the initial barrage, even replied with several attacks of his own, but as his opponent’s speed escalated, Max found himself increasingly on the defensive. Quickly proving himself to be every bit as formidable as Striker, if not more so. Only moments into the battle, and he was already wondering if he was in over his head, yet he knew that if he backed down, this man’s killing spree would resume, and he had already seen enough, enemies or not. That, and a part of him simply refused to give in as long as his friends were in the line of fire.
In the meantime, most of the surviving hijackers decided to back off. Most likely trying to figure out what to do about the Island Patrol now that they no longer had any weapons, and the Seeker was immobilized. Just trying to stay out of the way as the two swordsmen dueled their way across the deck, perhaps deciding it would be safer to simply let them fight each other, then knock off the victor.
One of them, though, got the bright idea of attacking Max while his attention was focused on the duel. Unfortunately, just as he lunged in with a pry-bar from the salvage tools, the stranger kicked Max inadvertently out of the way, sending him rolling across the deck to avoid his next attack. Which slashed the unwary hijacker instead, flooring him as he toppled off-balance after missing Max, the energy blade gouging the deck.
“Oops!” was all the intruder had to say. “Sorry ’bout that!”
Max bounded back to his feet, torn between relief for that little break in the action, and revulsion at this man’s casual disregard for the lives of others.
“What the hell are you lookin’ at? Swords are weapons, they were made for killing,” the stranger informed him mockingly. “And what’s up with this stun crap anyway? Unless you can kill, there’s no way in hell you can beat me! You’re too soft for your own good.”
“I’m still alive,” Max shot back. “Your name?”
“Fine,” the stranger conceded, “you’ve lasted longer than most, I’ll give you that. Take it as a parting gift. When you get to hell, tell ’em Erix sent ya! You wouldn’t be the first, nor will you be the last.”