Jasper ran over and grabbed Lance’s mask. “His mask could see the camera footage anywhere around the complex,” Jasper said, scanning the feeds. “Come on…come on…ah! Found them! I see two people running from the plane just before it exploded.”
“Only two?” Ben asked. “I think the pilot was still on board.”
“Only two,” Jasper confirmed. “I see a guy and Amber sneaking into the building. They’re safe. I hope.”
“I’m sure Taylor is keeping her safe. He’s the hero type, or at least he thinks he is,” Ben said, turning to Jasper. “What an insane day. Don’t ever scare me like that, *********
“You really thought I was going to kill you? I guess I’m a better actor than I thought,” Jasper laughed. “Or it was the drugs.”
“I’d say a bit of both,” Franklin said. “Anyone else have a massive headache?”
“Me, but it’s going away,” Josh said.
“Mines too. I’m still not at all good, but I think I’m okay. ****, I can’t believe he made something like that,” Jasper said. “I know this will sound crazy, but…I kind of feel bad for Lance. His family kept him locked up and experimented on him for years. He killed his friend because the drug made him think his friend would snitch on him to his parents. I’d go crazy too.”
“Is that right?” Franklin asked. “Hmm, well, still doesn’t excuse what he did. People are dead. All because of his twisted beliefs. Jazz, you’re King now; what are you going to do?”
Jasper thought for a moment. “Ben. Em. We should talk.” Jasper left the room and went into the hallway. Ben and Emily looked at each other then followed him out. Jasper leaned against the wall and sighed. “Go on.”
“What?” Ben asked.
“Tell me how much of a ******* I am. I know you want to. Or how you’re going to report me for killing Lance,” Jasper said.
“I could tell you those things, but half of that wouldn’t matter. I’m pretty sure taking a jet without proper authorization from the government is borderline illegal. I doubt Taylor filled out all the required paperwork. No, I’m sure he didn’t. Want me to tell you what I saw? I saw someone defending himself and his family from a mass murderer. I saw someone who was held against his will and saw an opportunity to get away. You made a call and saved us.”
“Same,” Emily said. “I’m sure Jason would tell you that you did everything you could in the situation.”
“I still killed him, though. How am I supposed to live with that? I know I look calm now, but I’ll be freaking out when the Exceed wears off.”
“And that’s fine. We’ll be there to help you,” Emily said, wrapping her arms around him.
“Yeah, I’m not turning my back on you this time. I shouldn’t have before. Mom wouldn’t have wanted us to fight like that or leave you alone. I can practically hear her yelling at us right now,” Ben said, laughing.
“Thanks, guys. I mean it. Guess you have to call me your highness from now on, Ben,” Jasper laughed.
‘Like hell I do,” Ben said, rolling his eyes.
“I need you guys to tell me something. Did Ronda say, husband? I could’ve sworn I heard her refer to me as her husband. I must be crazy,” Jasper said.
“No, she did. I think she’s still waiting for you to ask the question. But I wouldn’t do it here,” Emily said.
“I know the perfect place,” Jasper said. “You guys ever been to Zone 10?”
“No, who can afford that?” Ben asked.
“Jason and I were going to. He never said when but he wanted to,” Emily said, sighing. “He did horrible things, but I still loved him.”
“I know, Em. He didn’t seem that bad. He was actually thrilled to meet me. I wish it were under different circumstances. You know, I actually thought he was just trying to get me out to get brownie points with you. I still kind of think that, but I think he was just trying to do the right thing,” Jasper said.
“Hard to say,” Emily said. “I’m glad you two got to meet.”
Ben smirked. “Jason wouldn’t stop talking when we met. He was fascinated that I worked with the government. I think he was trying to get me to spill what I knew. He was still cool. Can’t believe he was a killer, though.” Ben thinks for a moment. “We need to make sure that drug never gets out. If even one vial of that stuff gets into someone like Lance’s hands. Who knows what could happen?”
“We can think about that later. Right now, we need to get out of this place,” Emily said.
The door to the elevator opens, and Blanks start flooding out along with some familiar faces. “Amber!” Jasper shouted, running over and hugging her.
“Jazzy! Oh my god, I’m so happy your okay,” She says, hugging her back.
“I don’t know if okay is the right word, but I’m King now, so that’s something.”
“Are you serious?! You won? I’m so rich. I mean, I’m so relieved you made it,” Amber chuckled.
“I heard your betrayal,” Jasper said. “I am, too, I guess.”
Jasmine hurried up to Jasper. “Is Joshua okay?”
“He’s in there,” Jasper said, pointing behind himself. Jasmine bolted past him and burst through the door. Before the door closed, Jasper could see her throwing herself into Josh’s arms and smiles.
“Bro! No time, long see!” Dom laughed. “I shouldn’t joke, but what can you do. ****, it looks like this whole thing was a ******** from the start.”
“Yeah, that’s an understatement. Glad to see you’re in one piece,” Jasper said.
“Had a couple of close calls, but I’m good. Everyone went crazy and started tearing each other apart. Literally, one guy nearly took my head off with a meat cleaver. If it wasn’t for Ema, I think I’d be in that truck full of bodies.”
“The what full of what?” Jasper asked. “You know what? I’m not even surprised anymore.”
Ben walks over and takes Taylor aside. As Ben and Taylor started talking, Taylor frequently side-eyes Jasper every now and again. Once they were done, Taylor walked over to Jasper and held out his hand without saying anything. Jasper shakes it.
“So you are the reason I lost my job? Nice to meet you,” Taylor laughed. “I’m joking. Not about the lost job thing. I’m so fired. But glad we found you. What happened to the old King?”
“Dead,” Jasper said.
“Well, okay then. You do that?”
“Huh, alright,” Taylor said.
“You’re not going to give me a speech about how murder is bad?” Jasper asked, slightly surprised.
“Look, I was nearly blown up today, found a truck full of bodies, and lost my job. I don’t feel like it. Just don’t do it again. Plus, he was okay with blowing me up, so **** ’em,” Taylor said, sitting on the floor. “These masked guys said transportation is on the way. King had many vehicles, so they requested a plane and some cars. Should be here in an hour.”
One of the blanks steps forward to Jasper. “My King, these are all the survivers. What are your orders?”
Jasper turned to the group. “I’ll be right back. You guys rest.”
“Where are you going?” Amber asked.
“I need to make sure of something before we go.” Jasper turned back to the blank. “Take me to King’s room. Also, I want to see where he made Exeed.”
“At once, my King,” The blank says, leading Jasper into the elevator and disappearing back down into the building.
The Blanks led him to King’s room on the residential floor. Jasper was about to open the door when he noticed the guards didn’t flow him inside. “Everything okay?” Jasper asked.
“The 4th King ordered us to never go near his door unless invited. We will stay here until your return,” The lead Blank said.
Jasper was going to say something but decided not to and headed inside. Lance’s room wasn’t like the one Jasper knew. It was oddly normal. A bed, desk, and a few bookcases. A few monitors lined the walls. One was tuned to the game floor, the middle one was tuned to the glass box, and the last was to a room he’d never seen before. It was footage of a lab. The message at the bottom of the screen labeled that screen “E.”
“That has to be it,” Jasper said. He turned to leave when he saw an envelope with his name on it on the desk. He walks over and opens it. Inside, was a letter and a card.
“Well, I guess I lost. I wanted to see you grow. I really did. But I guess this works out. I want you to know, Jazz, I did what I did to help you. I wanted to be by your side when you took over. You were the closest thing I had to a brother. Someone that understood me and wanted to be my friend. Not because of my money or my name. You should know, you’re not the first person I wanted to succeed me. The others weren’t compatible with Exeed. You were. I noticed it a long time ago.
Listen, I don’t want to waste your time. You have so much to do. So, I’ll get to the point. There should be a card in the envelope. That’s yours. It proves you’re the new King. It’s tied to my fortune as well. Congrats. Use it as you wish. That’s the good news. Now for the bad. The version of Exceed I gave you was incomplete. I gave you a lot of it. SO much so that your body now needs it on a regular basis. Just like me. I took it every day. I needed to so I could keep my mind in check. Genius comes at a cost. That’s right, Jazz. You can’t just stop taking it. Otherwise, your mind will deteriorate. Well, it will anyway but taking it keeps the true madness away. My lab has enough to last you a year. Only you. Everyone else who has taken it will have to suffer, including the blanks. I’ve given them so much that they need it as much as a fish needs water. I recommend keeping them there in the complex. You could try and recreate it so they can stay simi-sane. It’s up to you.
Well, Jazz. It’s been fun. Truly. I don’t believe in God or reincarnation, but if we somehow meet again. I hope we can play another game. Enjoy your kingdom. Enjoy your new life with Ronda. I hope you’ll continue, King of the World. You have five years to plan the next one. I’m sure it’ll be one hell of a show.
“Well, ****,” Jasper said, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of him. He sits on the bed and looks at the card. It was his new ID. It was the same as his old one but with the little crown in the corner. “Guess she wasn’t lying,” Jasper said. He takes a deep breath then walks back to the blanks.
“What is your command?” The lead blank asks.
Jasper walked past them and pushed the elevator button to go back to King’s floor. Before the door closes, he says, “I want you to go back to your rooms and wait. We have work to do.”
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