James was now back in the awful reality Kazav had created. The city, and everything in it, was leveled and scorched. All the heroes that could have stood against him lay motionless on the ground, rendered powerless without the Orb's energy.
“What’s it going to be?” Kazav repeated to James. "Life or death?"
James was torn. He did want to change the world, he did want to get rid of all the horrible elements that were dragging it down into oblivion but he wondered if this was the way to do it? What about all the people who would resist? James knew full well that humans were stubborn and proud. He knew they wouldn’t just sit down and accept being dominated even if it was for their own good.
And then there was Sparrow. He knew exactly what she would do in this situation. She was always so headstrong and confident. It was a quality of hers he often envied. In the end, James sided with the one person who had never steered him wrong, the one person who he knew he could trust to the very end.
Kazav could sense what James was thinking. "Don't let your emotions color your judgment kid. I did that one too many times and it always leads to pain."
"What if take your side? What happens then?" James asked while looking into Kazav's beady, black eyes.
"Then you get to join me in reshaping this world and snuffing out every last self-destructive person in existence."
James thought about it what he was saying. That would mean the slaughter of millions if not billions of people.
"And if I take the opposing side?"
Kazav's face curled into a frown. The very fact that James would ask that left a bitter taste in his mouth. "Then I will have no choice but to dispose of you along with any other person who stands in the way of harmony."
As James lay on the floor, thoughts racing through his mind, a smile grew on his face. He realized that all this time Kazav may have been trying to influence him to do his bidding but in the end, Sparrow was the one who had the greatest impact on him. The choice was now clear. He wanted to be like her and choose the right path, the path that few else would choose. He was going to be a real hero, the hero he always dreamed of being.
He stood up and took a defensive stance. "I'm sorry my old friend, but I can't. I can't betray the people of this world. Despite all you have endured I just won't do it, I'm sorry."
Kazav let out a disappointed sigh. "That's upsetting kid, but I understand."
With that, he grabbed James and held him up above his head, squeezing his body with immense force.
He opened his disfigured maw like a snake unhinging its jaw. Moments later, a red light began to glow in the back of his throat, humming as he charged a deadly attack.
"It didn't have to be this way, James. I take no joy in doing this."
He tried to squirm out of his grasp but he couldn't. All he could do was watch as an eruption of searing hot energy blasted out of Kazav's mouth and struck James head-on. He cried out as the stream of power engulfed his body and started turning his skin red from the insane heat.
Kazav became puzzled. He didn't understand why James was still able to resist such a devastating strike. Now that he was out of his body and no longer offering direct aid that blast should turned him into dust.
He decided to turn up the heat, making the beam wider and stronger. James' skin began to turn white-hot from the heat and was burning Kazav's hand. He shut off the beam and tried another approach.
"If that won't do the job then maybe this will.
Kazav's hideous and bulging muscles tightened and flexed as he clamped his hands around James and squeezed with all his might. With pressure that could make a diamond from coal James grunted and groaned as he was held aloft and pressed tight by Kazav's wretched bony fingers.
The harder Kazav tried to squash him the less of an effect it seemed to have.
"This makes no sense," He cried out as James hacked and coughed on the floor.
"Unless," Kazav mumbled out as he stroked his metallic chin. "Unless our bond can only truly break when you die. That would mean that while we were still physically paired everything that happened to me would also happen to you."
James laughed as he stood back up. "Which means that when you received the Nexus Orbs power so did I. Now that I think about it the closer I get to you the more powerful I feel. Why might that be?"
Now just an arm's length away from Kazav; James decided it was his turn to offer a choice.
"Seeing as how I still hold the power to stop you I'll give you two options. The first is you give your power back to the orb and leave this planet forever."
Kazav gave out a sinister snicker. He was both intimidated and entertained by James' threatening demeanor. "And the second choice?" Kazav asked with an intrigued smile.
James raised his fist and threatened, "The second choice, is I beat it out of you."
Now in a full-on manic laugh, Kazav stood up to his full height and towered over James. He brought his head down and looked him in the eyes.
"In that case," He paused for dramatic effect, "good luck."
No sooner did he finish his sentence than did James get sent flying backward as Kazav came at him with full force.
Every strike, every hit, every move was now at a level so powerful that shock waves raced out in all directions, flattening any building still left standing.
Beams of energy shot out from Kazav's jaws, racing toward James who dodged and weaved between them. Kazav's assault was relentless and James was doing everything he could just to not get pummeled. Every hit that connected sent them smashing into the ground, sending massive heaps of stone flying out into the sky. James' main concern was getting Kazav away from the city. He wanted to keep collateral damage to a minimum.
Now hundreds of miles away from anything, James began to fight back with incredible power. His hits, even when held back, would turn everything in front of him to dust. The power of his blows was so immense that it blasted holes in mountains, rerouted rivers, and flattened forests.
After hours of fighting the ground became so upended that magma began to filter through the cracks. James began to grow concerned that their fight was putting the planet in jeopardy and he turned away for a fraction of a second to survey the damage. Kazav took advantage of his momentary preoccupation and landed an uppercut on him so forceful that it shot him into the atmosphere.
A flashing streak of light flooded his eyes rendering him momentarily blind. Once his senses returned his jaw dropped as he floated in place, now looking back on the planet from above.
James was overtaken by its beauty. The crystal blue ocean, the teaming forests that painted the landmasses green, it was all so magical. Looking up, he could see the northern lights dancing high above in the atmosphere. Then, looking down, he could see the frozen ice shelves of the southern pole.
As quickly as he was sent up he was sent back down by yet another surprise strike from Kazav. Like an asteroid streaking through the sky, James crashed into the planet's surface, smashing into the ground with the force of an atomic bomb.
With his focus back on Kazav James really let loose. Massive streams of black plasma flowed out from his hands as he attempted to vaporize him. The world around them began to morph into an ocean of bubbling liquid rock as they fired stream after stream of energy attacks at one another.
After hours of planet shattering, rock melting, and bone-crushing combat they began to lose steam and, while taking a brief respite, they stood across from each other, their eyes locked in a hateful gaze.
"Had enough?" James mocked.
"I could do this all day!" Kazav quipped back.
After staring each other down Kazav decided to offer an olive branch. "Look kid, out of respect for you and all we went through I'm willing to give you one last chance to be on the right side of history."
James shook his head vigorously. "No chance Kazav, no chance at all."
"Well then, it looks like I need to bring this game to its end."
Kazav now let out a flurry of blows that sent James racing through the sky. There was no time to dodge, no time to deflect, Kazav was teaching James the hard way that he had been holding back.
With James ow lodged into the side of a mountain, Kazav rallied every bit of energy he could. Like a star in the night sky, Kazav began to glow as a vortex of red and purple energy swirled around him, bathing him in a wicked energy. Finally, he unleashed a beam on James that was so powerful it turned everything within a hundred miles radius into a burning heap of molten slag.
Kazav scanned the area to ensure that James had not somehow gotten away. Convinced the only threat to his reign was gone, Kazav returned to the city to finish what he started.
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