Exposition

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When Hiro came to, that familiar rise of panic hit him like a pile of bricks.

His heart was racing faster than ever before, and he realized with annoyance that his mouth had been sealed with duct tape once again. He squeezed his eyes shut, grimacing in pain as he sat up, his eyes slowly fluttering open, though they widened once he realized where exactly he was.

He looked up to see that he was laying on a balcony of sorts, looking out into a laboratory that he assumed to be the one the computer lab had been looking out on. His suspicion was correct once he looked back to see a large set of windows in the back of the lab, computers lighting up the darkness. He looked forward and doubled back when he noticed a large, mangled piece of machinery near the far wall of the lab, his confusion only growing when his eyes trailed to the left to see another mangled machine. They looked like large portals, though he couldn't be certain. He did notice the bird symbols pasted on each of the machines, though, and he furrowed his brow in suspicion.

What exactly was going on here? Was that symbol some sort of secret operation?

Before he could continue brainstorming theories, he heard the familiar clicking of metal coming from below, and he scrambled back as Robert Callaghan rose from below the balcony, a large swarm of microbots lifting him up. Hiro's breathing escalated into a level of hyperventilation, though he had to breathe even harder due to his mouth being sealed shut.

"If you weren't going to follow my rules," Robert hissed, "then I figured you didn't deserve the privilege of talking."

Hiro lowered his head to glare daggers at Robert, though the man didn't seem fazed. Instead, a sliver of microbots crawled toward Hiro, and he tried to scurry back but to no avail as he was being lifted into the air. He kicked to the best of his ability only to groan in frustration, realizing that his ankles were still tied together tightly. So, he had to resort to twisting around to escape, shouting muffled grievances against Robert.

"Now, where were we before, Hiro?" Robert asked, bringing Hiro to his side only to growl in annoyance as Hiro squirmed against the hold of the microbots. He forced the microbots to squeeze Hiro tightly, scowling under his mask as he watched Hiro's eyes widen in pain. "You're doing this to yourself, Hiro. You have to obey me from now on."

Hiro didn't listen, still shouting out painful and muffled cries as he tossed and turned in the microbot's hold. Robert rolled his eyes, squeezing Hiro tighter as he clenched his fist.

"Hiro, stop it!" he demanded, but Hiro wouldn't give in. Robert had no choice but to lean forward, whispering into Hiro's ear. "You don't want me to bring Tadashi here to be with you, do you?"

Hiro stopped moving, still struggling for air as the microbot's tightened their hold more and more. He whipped his head around to face Robert, searching his eyes as if to say "you don't mean that." But Robert simply glared back beneath his mask, and Hiro shook his head weakly, sighing in relief as Robert loosened the microbots around Hiro's waist. Hiro began coughing beneath the tape on his mouth violently, his face still a faint purple from his lack of air. Robert paid him no mind, proceeding forward until they were in front of the mangled portals that Hiro had been staring at before.

"Remember those things I said about you, Hiro?" Robert asked, placing Hiro down on the metal walkway below. "About how you're special?"

Hiro simply stared up at Robert from the walkway, unsure of how to respond.

"Answer me, Hiro," Robert hissed, a trail of microbots slithering down to Hiro. Hiro nodded frantically in response, sighing in relief as the trail of microbots slithered back up to Robert.

"Good," he continued, turning to the portals and approaching them slowly before placing his gloved hand on it, trailing it down as he examined the burnt pieces. "I brought you here because you have a gift. You're smarter than other kids your age, even adults. When I saw what you were capable of at the showcase, I had to get you to come with me somehow but, of course, my plan backfired. I started the fire with the intention of bringing you inside to make it look like you were killed, but I wasn't prepared for the explosion that followed. Your family certainly wasn't going to leave you alone anytime soon, so I had to recruit some backup. I hired private detectives to have you followed. They left you threats, warnings. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about."

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