Ty Parsec thought it was suspicious that Kite’s parents would want him to go home immediately instead of staying under observation to make sure everything was all right with their son, especially after what happened to him. The LGM’s medical scans gave him a few more pieces to the puzzle. Now it was time for a talk with Mr. and Mrs. Yamaki. Yoshie answered the door.
“Ranger Parsec? What’s going on?”
“I wanted to ask you a similar question. May I come in?”
Yoshie stepped aside and let Ty enter, keeping a suspicious eye on him.
“What do you want to know?” Yoshie asked, closing the door.
“The truth about your son.” Ty handed her the medical scans. “If these readings are accurate, which I’m told they are by 98.9%, your son has a strange bioelectric signature for any living humanoid. Do you know anything about this?”
“No.” Takashiro entered the room. “We don’t know anything. Now go.” Something about the slight old man’s tone signaled to Ty that if didn’t leave he would, and could, throw him out on his ass.
“You sure? You both seemed pretty anxious to take him home, even after what happened to him the other night. Usually that tells me that you have something to hide. Can Kite manipulate machines with his mind?”
“Get out! I don’t know who you think you are, but I will not tolerate you prying into our lives like this. We know our rights.”
“Why are you asking these things?” Yoshie inquired, not looking up from the scans. Ty answered her.
“Because if what I’m lead to believe is true, I think that Kite is in serious danger.”
“Is that a threat?”
” ‘Shiro, wait.” Yoshie interrupted. “From who? That energy vampire who kidnapped him and bit him? I thought he could only control electronics and robots.”
“That was true, but in Kite’s case, the nanites NOS-4-A2 injects into his victims are reacting to his unique bioelectric field.” Ty replied.
“Oh, god.” Yoshie sat down. “Then, that hacker who broke into those power plants, it was Kaito.” she whispered. “He was up late last night and he saw the news report…and he was all upset about it. Why didn’t he tell us?” Yoshie asked.
“He’s scared of what’s happening to him.” Ty answered. “It’s not his fault, but if you want me to help him, I need to know what he’s capable of. How can he even do these things?”
Takashiro sighed with defeat. “He’s been doing this since we adopted him. It comes as naturally to him as breathing. We knew that anyone would try to take him away from us if they learned what he was capable of, so we kept it a secret and taught him to keep it, too.”
“We knew it wouldn’t last, though. It’s a part of who he is down to having a built in persona on the network, and lately he’d been getting bolder with his usage of it.”
“Too bold if he was going after things like NOS-4-A2.” Ty observed. “Exactly what is he capable of besides taking control of machines?”
“He’s able to hear network signals and manipulate them. Any computer task he can do just by thinking about it. He’s also create AI before. We always thought they were simply imaginary friends before he had them appear on the computer to prove that they were real…” Yoshie paused. “Whatever you’re thinking, I’m going to tell you this: we raised Kaito to be a kind and peaceful young man. He did not do those horrible things of his own accord, and he never would.”
“I know.” Ty replied. “Where is he now?”
“His teacher called just before you came to tell us he was in detention for what she called “the prankfest of the decade.””
“Kind and peaceful, and a prankster?” Ty asked skeptically.
“He’s never hurt anyone. Just inconvenienced them.”
“All right. If I take him back to the Star Command base, we can keep him safe from NOS-4-A2 and anyone else who would want to hurt him.”
“We’re coming with you.” Takashiro insisted.
“We’re not leaving him alone at a time like this.”
Ty nodded. Having some people Kite trusted with his biggest secret around would help cool this entire situation down. He just hoped they would get to him before NOS-4-A2 decided to abduct him.
The boy had successfully put off leaving the building, and the street-punk was waiting for him on the roof of the school with that weapon of hers in hand.
“Damn.” NOS-4-A2 grumbled. “Now I’m going to have to retrieve you myself somehow.” He flew down toward the school, but pulled back once he saw who else was coming toward the building.
“Lightyear’s here, already?” He hadn’t expected them to know about Kite just yet. He glanced back at Savy, and then a broad grin spread across his metal face as he was struck with an idea.
Your dark master beckons, dear boy. Come to me.
“Yamaki, what am I going to do with you?”
“Is that a rhetorical question or are you just thinking out loud?”
“Should I hang you upside down by your toenails, or should I hang you outside the window by your thumbs?”
“I prefer neither of those options, ma’am.” Kite answered nervously.
“Then you’re in luck, because you’ll be spending detention cleaning up your mess.” She handed him a mop. “Have fun.”
Kite mopped up the slime and water on the floor slowly, hoping to stall for as long as possible.
Well, Kaito, it seems Miss Savy has sold you out.
“Can’t hear you. Cleaning.”
Look out the window, if you don’t believe me.
Kite mopped toward the window and peered out. His stomach lurched uncomfortably at the sight of four space rangers approaching the school. How did they know he was here and arrive so quickly? Did Savy really tell them about him?
When they arrest you for hacking, terrorism, murder and such, I’m sure they’ll discover what you really are: a freak of nature and a threat to their security. They’ll lock you up somewhere where you’ll never hear the resonance again!
“Shut up, damn it.” Kite stepped away from the window clutching his aching skull. His heart raced as he tried to think of a plan to escape, but Ms. Yukari was watching over him like a hawk. Running for it would be useless. They were going to find him.
Here, little one, let me help you. NOS-4-A2 pulled Kite’s persona into the school’s network and began causing malfunctions throughout that put the entire building into a lockdown. Kite twitched miserably as another nail felt like it was being driven into his head.
“What’s going on?!” Ms. Yukari shrieked. Then the sprinklers went off, drenching them both.
“Apparently it’s a virus in the system. I really have to pee now.”
“Oh, no, the last time I let you go to the bathroom you destroyed the hallway—Come back here this instant!” Kite didn’t let her finish, he was already sliding as gracefully as he could manage down the hall toward the elevator.
“Kaito Yamaki, come back here right now!” Ms. Yukari struggling to run across the slippery floor after the fleeing teenager. Her furious tone piled on top of NOS’s taunting made him incredibly edgy. He didn’t want to get arrested, or caught by Ms. Yukari, or kidnapped by NOS-4-A2. He just wanted to be left alone to collect his thoughts and order his already addled brain.
Of course, he panicked when he saw Booster prying the locked down doors of the elevator open.
Run you little fool!
He bolted down the hall and down the stairs just as fast as he could right before Buzz leapt out from behind his teammate.
“Stop…Whoa!” The entire floor was still slick with slime and water. “Kite, come back here!”
The sprinkler system went off throughout the entire building.
“He’s onto us!” XR cried, tracking Kite’s resonance through the building.
“How could he be onto us? No one knew we were coming here.” Mira asked, ghosting through the door separating her from the robot ranger.
“He’s in the network, the entire building has been locked down, what more do you want to know?”
“Can you track him?”
“Give me a second…he’s on the third floor!”
“Okay, hold on!” Mira grabbed XR and activated her jet pack as she ghosted up two floors.
“Wait! He’s moving down!” XR rolled quickly toward the stairs. Mira dashed after the robot ranger, passed him and saw a drenched Kite take off down the stairs.
“We’ve got him on the run!”
“Kaito Yamaki! Stop where you are!”
Kite kept running. Mira followed after him, trying to ghost through ahead of the teen. Just as she was right above him…
Kite dived down the stairs in an attempt to dodge, and Mira tumbled down behind him. Kite’s head smacked on the doorknob in front of him as he fell with Mira landing next to him. Kite staggered getting to his feet, holding his head in his hands.
“Shut up.” he muttered weakly. Mira got up quickly and saw blood dripping down the boy’s face.
“Kaito? You’re bleeding! Hold still!” Mira tried to keep Kite steady, but he slipped out of reach and kept heading down the stairs.
“No…can’t get me.” Kite said absently. “…won’t let you…” XR came down right behind Mira.
“We just want to help you.”
“Yeah, to a prison cell.”
“XR, you’re not helping.”
“Stay away from me! All of you!” Kite yelled as he continued to run. Mira and XR continued to chase after him. Buzz and Booster were not far behind.
“Mira, XR, do you see him?”
“Yes, sir, he’s about ten feet ahead of us, injured and heading outside!” Mira responded as Kite pushed through the emergency exit. The door closed swiftly behind him and locked down just as Mira and XR got to it.
“Craters! He’s rigged the door.”
“Stand back, Mira!” XR pulled out every gun he had and fired at the obstacle, effectively blowing it off its hinges.
Savy jumped at the sound of the emergency alarm. Who was the idiot who set the school on fire this week? From her hiding spot, she saw Buzz and Booster emerge from the stairs and then take off the side of the roof. With one explosion sounding from below, she quickly looked over the edge and saw Kite running through the back gate…with Buzz and his team in hot pursuit.
“Damn it!” she muttered, smacking her hand against her forehead. She should have figured that XR would be onto Kite, he had been suspicious of him since they met. And if NOS-4-A2 was in Kite’s head, all he had to do was scare Kite into thinking he’d be arrested or experimented on.
“So much having a plan.” Savy grumbled as she ran down the stairs to try and catch up with them.
The teen pushed through the gate and dashed down an alley. It was essentially hopeless. He couldn’t keep running with a massive headache and blood running into his face, especially from space rangers. Unfortunately for them, the alley was getting narrower. Kite slipped into the confined space out of reach.
“He’s getting away!”
“Not for long! Booster, up and over!”
Buzz and Booster flew over the buildings to cut Kite off on the other side. Mira and XR kept running after him. XR quickly found himself a little too stout to fit between the buildings.
“I gotta lay off the WD-40.” XR stretched his arm down the alley and caught Kite by the ankle. “I got him!” Kite slipped through the narrow opening, forcing his shoulders through.
“Don’t let go of him, XR!” Mira started ghosting through the walls in order to squeeze through, because her space suit wasn’t going to allow her to fit and grab Kite at the same time. She pushed through slowly; ghosting twice earlier, once with XR in tow, had drained a good deal of energy.
“YEOUCH!” XR yelled. “Mira, watch where you’re stepping! That’s my arm!”
“I’m not standing on your arm!” Mira shouted back, stepping through the gap to the other side, laser at the ready. “Kaito?” On the other end of XR’s crushed arm was nothing. The boy had vanished into thin air.
“Mira, what happened?”
“I don’t know. XR had him, and then I came through the wall and he was gone.” Mira held up the robot ranger’s damaged arm.
“Maybe NOS-4-A2 got him.” Booster suggested.
“If anyone wants to help me join the party,” XR voiced from behind the walls, holding out his head to see everyone. “Kite’s resonance is gone.”
“What does that mean?”
“Either he’s dead or he’s learned to hide.” XR answered.
“None of those options sound good.” Buzz said grimly. “He couldn’t have gotten far in any case, so let’s spread out and look for clues.”
“Hey, can I get a hand here?” Mira tugged XR by the arm, ghosting him through the gap and flat on his face. “Thanks.” Mira slumped against the wall.
“You all right?” Buzz asked.
“Yeah, just too much repeated ghosting. I’ll be fine.” Mira paused. “Why didn’t he stop running? He was badly injured and scared to death of something.”
“Guilty conscience, Mira.” Buzz said simply. “He’s probably afraid to get arrested.”
“We didn’t even tell him he was going to be arrested. He smacked his head pretty hard when he fell, he was bleeding pretty badly. I mean, you should have seen his face, Buzz. He looked like he was scared of something more than us.”
“Well, when we find him, he can explain himself.”
“Let me go!” Kite screamed as he struggled against the grip of two massive robots who held him pinned to a table. Just as he had slipped through the narrow alleyway, they jumped him on the other side, gagged him, and dragged him off to an abandoned building. No one heard him, and struggling continued to exhaust him. The worst part was probably the pressure on his mind as his bio-node was forcefully retracted to keep his resonance hidden. It felt like he was being suffocated. Then someone undesirably familiar appeared from the shadows.
“Oh, dear boy, what am I going to do with you?” NOS-4-A2 sighed as he hovered right above his rogue minion. “If you keep hurting yourself like this, I’m going to have to tie you up and put you someplace safe.” He waved for a newly bitten medical drone to approach and it tended to the cut on Kite’s forehead. NOS fingered the scarred gash on Kite’s cheek and trailed his claw fingers down to the bite mark on the boy’s neck. Kite jerked away from his touch. He really was a frail little thing, wasn’t he?
“I don’t know, all the injuries I’ve gotten so far have been mostly due to you running my persona ragged enough to overload the biofeedback filter.” Kite edged away as much as he could. “Not to mention the pounding headache that I’ve been stuck with ever since you hacked and corrupted my bio-node, which has been spiking every time you talk, so this is really all your fault.” The drone wiped away the blood and sweat on his face before retreating to a corner. The energy vampire promptly slapped him across the face.
“Don’t take that tone with me, you insolent little brat.” NOS hissed.
“No wonder you can’t keep any minions. Such an abusive temper you have, dark master.” Kite sneered. NOS was ready to rip the boy to shreds, but considering past conversations he’d had trying to wear him down, it occurred to him that that was exactly what Kite wanted. Then he would be short a useful minion and the boy would receive the punishment for his perceived crimes that he thought he deserved. NOS smirked.
“You look positively exhausted.” he observed casually. “I don’t suppose you would calm down enough for a nap.”
“Sorry, too wound up. I don’t suppose you would just let me go and forget all this crazy take over the universe plot.” Kite asked hopefully.
“Don’t be ridiculous.” NOS scoffed. “I’m not going to abandon my plans for revenge and domination of the cosmos because my new weapon has gotten a little scratched up.” Kite’s eyes narrowed.
“I am not a weapon!” he spat, glaring furiously at NOS.
“That’s not how I see it. Without any external guidance you are merely a weak child with an exotic ability. Under my control, you are the ideal device for unleashing terror on the network. Without me you have no purpose except to wait for another to take control because you’re too weak to even defend yourself.”
“That’s not true.”
“If it weren’t, you wouldn’t be here with me.” NOS replied simply.
Kite slumped against the table in defeat. He was just a stupid kid screwing around with an insane ability that, by right, he shouldn’t have been born with. This hopeless situation was all brought on by his own inability to face his destructive capabilities. How many fights had he avoided his entire life? Just about all of them in a futile attempt to prove he wasn’t a weapon. Load of garbage that turned out to be.
“Now, then,” NOS came up to him with a syringe. “Just relax and go right to sleep, my pet.” Kite edged away, but the two mindless automatons that held him refused to budge. NOS held his head to the side and stuck the syringe in his neck. The drug acted quickly, sending him spiraling into unconsciousness and despair with NOS-4-A2’s smug grinning face fading into the darkness.
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