‘Chaos is the ultimate order of the universe.’
It was loud. People were moving about frantically looking for their places. It was chaotic and MIT Graduate Stephan Hunter loved it. He laughed out loud at the stupidity and worrisome nature of the common folk, “For Tesla’s sake, the busses had only been delayed by two minutes” he thought.
Everyone at St. Philip Port bus station were anxiously waiting for the 3 busses to take them to Starnight City, where the biggest event in American history (after the wars!) was taking place; Technova: The Fest. Our hero, Mr. Hunter, too was going there. And so, was the Man in the Shadow. The busses had finally arrived and as Stephan stood in the queue, he felt something graze his pocket, “So many people. One hand must have brushed my pocket among so many others.” And he left it. His thoughts were soon filled with the prospects of meeting some of science’s greatest minds. And with that, he drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
By the time he returned to the land of the living, they had reached their destination. Here too, he was greeted by chaos. But, this time it was chaos due to confusion, anger, fear and suspicion. “What’s going on?” he thought out loud. His reply came in the form of an announcement by Dr. Matthias Henry, the organiser of Technova and one of the most respected scientists in the country. ” Folks, Technova: The Fest has been officially cancelled for reasons that can’t be disclosed due to security reasons. We deeply regret it and truly apologise, but there’s nothing we can do. Sorry.” Protests flew out of everyone and disappointment became a common feeling. Stephan, suddenly feeling tired decided to retire to his room. But before that “I need to know why the fest has been cancelled.”
And off he went to look for Dr. Henry. When he found him, he introduced himself,” Hello. My name is Stephan Hunter, son of Brian Hunter. My father speaks highly of you. I would like to know why this fest has been cancelled.” Henry replied,” Some scoundrel stole the main chip in Xander Reva, the AI that runs this place and our main exhibit. Do you know anything about it?” “ No. It’s a shame that someone would do this. I’ll take your leave now.” And with that Stephan left Matthias to his own thoughts.
After he reached his room he undressed, took a shower and refreshed himself.” My phone’s dying. Now where did I keep my charger?” he said and started looking for the said object. As he rummaged through his pockets, he found an unfamiliar looking chip coded XNRA196. “What is this? I’ve never seen it before. I’ll give it to Henry. He’ll know what to do.” When Stephan handed it over to Dr. Henry, he was surprised. “Agents take Mr. Stephan Hunter into your custody. He stole the chip and almost ended the fest.” Dr. Matthias Henry ordered. “But I didn’t do anything. In fact I’ve never seen this chip before in my life.” Protested Stephan, but to no avail.
It didn’t matter for the agents had been trained to turn a deaf ear, a mute mouth and a blind eye to their prisoner. Only one agent had sympathy for him and that was Special Agent Nathaniel Black.
“Believe me. I’m innocent. Dr. Henry is framing me for a crime he probably committed. Please help me.” Stephan begged. “Of course I’ll help you.” Agent Black replied.
And off, went Agent Black to look for evidence. CCTV recordings were seen, people were picked off the streets to be interrogated, tests after tests were conducted, and finally, 2 weeks later, enough evidence was found.
“I’ve found evidence.” stated Black. Hunter replied, “Let’s take this to the jury. It’ll prove my innocence. Thank you for helping me, my friend.” Black only smiled as a reply.
Twenty Second February, a day that’ll go down in history as the day of the most important hearing in Starnight City: The Case of Stephan Hunter. After nearly 16 hours of deliberation after considering all the variables and evidences and footage, after interrogating over 50 people, Judge Thompson declared,” I pronounce Mr. Stephan Hunter GUILTY of stealing of property, deceiving the public and lying to court under oath. You are hereby sentenced to 10 years in prison. Case closed.” Stephan was shocked and devastated. He thought,” An innocent man was going to jail for a crime he didn’t commit and not even the best lawyers his father could afford could get him out.”
2 days later, he had an unexpected visitor in his solitary cell. It was Special Agent Nathaniel Black. “Thank you for visiting me and for believing me. Thank you for helping me. It wasn’t your fault that the real thief wasn’t caught. I guess I’ll be spending quite some time in this cosy little cell. By the way in your investigation did you happen to find out who the actual thief was?”
“Oh yeah ! About that. I AM the one that stole the chip and framed you for it. Nothing personal against you. You’re just collateral damage. You’re a swell guy.”
“Your father the noble Brian Hunter the Great actually has his hands blood red with the lives he unfairly took. Did you know your father cheated people off their money and their lives for a living? My father too made the mistake of trusting the words of the great Brian Hunter and paid the price with his life. Consider this justice served.”
“If you want revenge against my father, target him. But leave me. I didn’t know anything until you told me.”
“As I said before, you’re collateral damage. I lost my father to your father and your father loses a son to my father’s son. Quite poetic, isn’t it?”
“You won’t get away with this. I’ll tell the authorities.”
“And who’ll believe you over me? Besides you need to be awake to tell anyone.”
“What. What do mean? What are you talking about?”
“Goodnight Mr. Stephan Hunter. Pleasure doing business with you. Don’t come back alive.”
And with that, the trigger was pulled and the Man in the Shadow left with a cruel smirk on his face with his cold, steely, mad eyes shining with the satisfaction of a job well done whilst whistling a haunting tune , mocking the chaos that erupted all around him even as the earth burned.