Chapter 2-4

As the first light of dawn broke through the peep-hole, we were awoken by sound of rifles firing along with screaming and fighting. It would seem that our captors had finally decided to put an end to playing house by wiping us out. One thing that bugged me however, was that for a bit, I heard shouting that went “How can it move without a head” and “You should be dead”.

At this point, whether it was one of our captors or a fellow captive shouting, it didn't matter. Something weird was going on and the two of us weren't planning to move an inch. It wasn't till almost two hours after the last bullet was fired that we decided it was time to make a move.

Stepping out, we saw the bits and charred remains of what we believe were formerly our fellow captives. I couldn't remember too well what I saw there as the shock hindered my ability to think about my surroundings. I asked Alicia if she had any belongings to pick up, but she pointed out that the house she had been assigned to had already been set ablaze. Since she knew of my escape plans by then, we headed over to my room to retrieve my belongings.

Grabbing what we thought would help on the road, we look around for an exit from the camp. Oddly enough, the gates were still shut tight and the fortifications around the rest of the camp were too high for us to climb over. I then remembered how the American soldier previously escaped and that in the guards' arrogance, they left his escape route intact to lure escapees.

Just before we could make our way there, the unbelievable happened. Stumbling towards us was one of my house mates. He lost both arms and clearly, should have long been dead. Just like in those zombie movies we have these days, I realised we were probably living in one. Taking a few steps back, I called out to him in hopes of somehow proving my hypothesis wrong.

Sadly, his response was to dash towards us. Despite my immense fear, I was already prepared to give him a stiff kick in the stomach. It was just a moment before my kick that I was pulled to the side by Alicia, and the sprinting creature that was my housemate rammed through a brick wall and onto a protuding pitchfork. If she had not pulled me away, I would have been rammed to death.

Before I could ask any questions, I realised that we had been surrounded. Some were crawling, missing limbs or even badly charred. I could recognise one or two of the guards among them and realised that their employers probably intended the same for them. As we backed away towards the main gate, we looked around in desperation for any means of escaping.

Once more, as if she was a veteran at these situations, Alicia pulled out a rope with a hook attached to her belt and threw it, hooking the edge of the watchtower by the gate. Telling me to climb first, I did so as fast as I could and she followed right after. Thankfully, none of these creatures rushed forward to pull at her leg as she climbed like in a typical zombie flick.

Though we escaped certain doom for the moment, we were now trapped there as the remaining creatures stumbled slowly towards us as if mocking our fate. Looking around for a way to get down the other side, we realised that it was impossible as there were barbed wires for over five metres along the exterior of the walls, making me wonder how the American soldier had made it pass all that before to begin with.

It was at that moment, we saw a man wearing a white long coat with a white hat resembled a cavalier's hat, except the front flap was pinned up. Perhaps it was because of his coat, he looked tall and bulky compared to the average man. Just before I could call out to him, Alicia covered my mouth, warning me that from what we have seen, he could be a friend or foe.

Watching to see how things would unfold first, we kept overselves hidden from sight while keeping the mysterious man in view as he walked up to the main gate. Raising his hand, he pressed on the gate for a bit before turning around. Just as I was about to call out to him in fear of remaining stuck there, he took two steps away from the gate and turned to face it once more.

He then poised himself to take a punch at the gate, which I first thought was an act of utmost foolishness and naivety. But when his punch hit the gate, I could not even see his arm move as a blast of wind knocked the both of us back onto the floor with the sound of a cannon hitting its target reveberating through the air.

Getting back up as quickly as we could, we saw the man calmly walking through the opening where the gates once stood; the gates now being embedded on the walls of the opposite side of the camp, having obliterated all that was in the path of the flying chucks of metal.

The creatures, in agitation, chose to charge at him with complete disregard for what just happened, seemingly more interested in the source of the loud blast. As they approached him, the remaining ones were either blown away by his fists or taken down by a throw with force so great their bodies splattered into the spot they were thrown on.

In awe of this unbelievable sight, I had subconsciously rummaged through my bag for my camera. As he took down the last of these creatures, I took a shot. I did not know how but for some reason, he noticed our presence and turned his head to look in our direction. We dived down to in an attempt to hide but he had already noticed us and called for us to come down instead.

Realising that if he intended to kill us, we would have been long dead, we got off from the watchtower through its trapdoor and by unlocking the steel door from within. Seeing him up close, he wore a mask that almost completely covered his face. He was around seven foot tall and looked even bigger when standing before him. We introduced ourselves and explained our situation while he stood there listening silently, barely moving an inch the entire time as if he was a statue. When we finished, he asked me if I still had my cellphone.

Passing it to him, he plugged in a device that looked like an antenna with a small chipset. Instructing me to speak to the first person it connects to, he proceeded to explore the campsite. Not wanting to risking running into one of those creatures without his protection, we followed as I reiterated our tale to the lady who had picked up on the other side of the line.

From what I was then told, the man we just met was an agent investigating the region and that since we were held captive till our recent escape, they would arrange for a helicopter evacuation for us within an hour. Passing the phone back to him, he listened to it with an occasional short response as he searched through the place before finally ending the call and removing the attached device.

As for the details of what happened from then till the time of our evacuation, Alicia and I have been instructed as part of our debriefing to swear to secrecy. However, as part of my professionalism, I have chosen to disregard it since a majority of the evidence I had acquired has been confiscated and the content of this report can be considered as highly dubious and imaginary even.

I will share the rest of my experience in follow up reports along with the bits of evidence that I have managed to retain. For now, I shall share the picture I first took of the man who single-handedly saved us both from certain doom. As he did not name himself till the end, I shall share with you all the nickname Alicia and I addressed him with during our journey, the Hand Cannon Master.

Alex leaned back against his chair, revelling from the report he had just read off a website written by Joseph Globen, a war journalist in his late thirties who committed a majority of his life to his profession since he lost his father in a skirmish and his mother to grief from the loss shortly after.

Rather than the shocking revelation of the events that Joseph went through, Alex was more interested in the man who had saved them. Being quite the fanatic ever since he discovered the rumours about the Hand Cannon Master a few years ago, Alex has since been keeping a keen eye out for relevant news while actively seeking means to meet him in person.

Why he is so interested was a bit questionable, since mere rumours on the Internet and a few magazines would rarely keep one so motivated unless they were a kid stuck with childish dream. Perhaps it was the fact that he was one of the many proven to have potential and capabilities way greater than an average person.

Still, that was only part of the reason. Rumours about the Hand Cannon Master, or HCM for short, started circulating sometime in 2009. This meant he had already been around for slightly more than five years before 2015 Competency Burst Convention, where analysts worldwide announced the definition of people categorised as “Super Competent”, also commonly abbreviated as SC.

As part of the 2015 Competency Burst revelation, analysts then had stated that the oldest people of that time to be considered a SC as a result of this phenomena to be the pop idol group Blood Roses, that consist of triplets who were then sixteen years old. In this case, it meant that the HCM was not a SC. If so, how could a person with such strength exist?

In fact, Alex himself found this sort of strength beyond comprehension. From what knowledge he gained over the years, even if one could exerted that much force, one's body would have long broken down from the pressure and resistance of the massive heavy object in question. Being far from the human limits, even Alex who has trained himself for a few years now could not even leave a crack on a concrete wall without bruising his first; much less smashing through one.

All this said, the greatest factor that Alex felt was the reason to his fanaticism simply was because he felt that this was all true. That such a man had come into existence in the ordinary, normal world. 2015 Competency Burst was but a mere prologue to the world's transition into one where the supernatural were normal. One like the imaginations of many represented by cartoons and comics.

In hopes of finding a logical explanation to these improbabilities, Alex previously chose to pursue biology as his core subject in school and went on to major in the research and treatment of the complex human body. As a result of his few years of efforts, he finally developed a way to regenerate significant human body parts within a specially tampered environment.

While the method was costly beyond the means of mass application, the result proved to be a perfect success as his immensely wealthy sponsor successfully restored the limbs of his beloved daughter. Normally, this would have made the headlines and become the topic of every person worldwide as it would be the breakthrough of the century in terms of medical advancement.

However, in fear of the future expectations that would cause him his freedom, Alex declared that his treatment was not completely successful and that medication had to be taken on a regular basis in order to maintain one's body, which otherwise would result in one decomposing alive.

On another hand, in order to minimise the attention attracted from the initial news that had leaked out, Alex begged his parents who due to the nature of their occupation, had substantial control over international media. Therefore, news on it was greatly reduced from a great leap for mankind to one of a graduate researcher making a small breakthrough in medical science.

While Alex was successful in keeping his accomplishment to minimal exposure and public attention, the story that remained of his breakthrough was still great enough for almost any person in the medical field to have heard of him. This was excluding those who knew the truth about his success but were pressured into keeping silent about it.

Wanting to distant himself from the medical research completely to reduce the remaining attention on him, he chose to take a second degree in Engineering under the pretext of not being able to progress any further in his previous field. Not having told anyone else, Alex knew that his true purpose in research to begin with was only to prove whether the human body could be altered to be capable of such unrealistic feats of strength. Regeneration was merely part of his goal and he wasn't intending on giving it up for the supposed better good of the world.

Obsessions aside, Alex sat back up, reconsidering his plans for the week. Having had dinner with some friends followed by his usual evening run, he did not have the chance to check on his package since picking it up from Dan despite intending to earlier. As he was done with his routine web search for news, he decided that the first thing to do now was to inspect his package before doing any planning for the week ahead.

Shifting his computer's peripherals to make space on his desk, Alex uses a penknife to open the box. Sieving through the styrofoam nuggets, he finds the handle of a large briefcase and pulls it out slowly in order to avoid having the styrofoam fall out and causing a mess in his room. Setting it on his desk, he enters the seven digit code to the lock before slowly opening the briefcase.

In the lower half of the briefcase was a neatly folded hoodie that was completely black in colour with a white mask resting onto of it, that was firmly held in place with a strap across. Briefly touching the hoodie and mask for a feel, he turns his attention to the upper half of the briefcase. Fitted in its holster, he gazed upon the weapon he waited for almost a year to complete.

Removing it from its casing, he examines the custom made shotgun that boasted the ability to increase the power of any regular shotgun round as well as controlling how the bullets spread. How it does that was highly questionable as both power and spread was usually based on the ammunition used. Furthermore, it also claimed to be able to fire any known shotgun shell.

For now, as he wasn't in the right place for testing it out, he figured that he would go down to the nearest range for a day or so, to try it out as well as familiarise himself with it. Setting it back into the briefcase, he went on to examine the cleaning kit and a set of special rounds that according to the technical handling manual, could easily blast a hole through a vault door.

Realising the implications of such a statement, Alex figures that his manufacturer probably catered more for those planning notorious acts. Placing it all back and locking up the briefcase, Alex looked at the calendar that hung from his wall, considering when he was available to test out his new gear.

“Well, looks like I had not plan to be free anytime soon. Ah well, a day or two away has never really hurt anyone too much before, now has it.” said Alex to himself as he affirms his plans to skip out on classes for a day or two.

The End

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