Chapter 7: His plans of Escape
Ace very well knew that he wasn’t the only hero imprisoned here at DreadZone. At first however, he believed that he was the only one captured; as some a sort of punishment for what had happened to Bolden 3.
Due to the immense guilt he felt, he had very little motivation to try and escape from DreadZone. He simply didn’t feel that it would be worth trying. He had nobody else to help him with deactivating the deadlock collar anyway.
It was practically impossible for him to try it alone, without the risk of being caught and killed.
Even so, he had ideas about the other captured heroes and heroines here. Ace was worried about their fates if they were to stay here, imprisoned in a reality show inhumanly. He wanted to try and help them all escape, someway, somehow. It wasn’t long until he felt inspired to aid them in an escape plan, if only he could get a chance to interact with them a bit more.
The technology used for the collars was similar to some explosive weapons he had worked with in the past, and so he believed that he may be able to figure out how to deactivate them - if he can get a chance to look at another hero’s collar. He didn’t want to see any more innocent lives being lost; especially in the name of holovision entertainment and high ratings.
Beginning to snooze, Ace could finally begin to feel a bit of comfort from all the stress he had endured in the past week and a half at DreadZone. Before drifting off, he thought about his team back at the Sonic Starfighter.
Are they alright? I hope they aren’t being punished for the choices I made…
He was longing for them but yet at the same time, he didn’t feel that he deserved to be with them again after what had happened... although thinking of them often brought him comfort.
Falling into the depths of sleep, Ace was now in a state of calm and relaxation. He was able to rest peacefully for at least the next few hours.
Not long after he heard something strange outside. He tried to ignore the noises, so that he could continue with his nap but the sounds persisted and started to get to his head.
Feeling rather annoyed, he opened his eyes. But instead of the usual dark room and starry sky outside the window, he could see a bright light. Ace turned himself over, somewhat reluctant to get up and he closed his eyes again. Yet then he could hear something else that was odd; the voices of children.
He shot up instantly and his eyes snapped open. This was all too strange. He stood up straight and rubbed his eyes, still confused with how bright it was outside his room. He grabbed his visor and walked over towards the doorway. He could clearly see that it truly was broad daylight outside. Then he realized that he wasn’t inside the space station anymore.
Looking all around, he could see the land ahead of him; with roads and buildings, it was all too familiar. With the bright blue skies and orange tinged clouds, and neatly designed architecture. It was clear that he was in a dream, but Ace didn’t think of the rules of reality.
He was on Bolden 3, and that is all that mattered.
He began to walk about and could finally smile for a change. It was such a nice day; the pleasant weather, fresh air and the warmth of the sun touching his skin. He could see the Bolden Orphanage ahead of him, where many of the children were seen playing outside with some of the caregivers and robots watching over them. Ace wondered if any of the Sonic 7 team was here, so he walked towards the city centre. He could see many people and robots walking and driving about, but still no sign of his team.
They have to be here somewhere…
On the other hand, he noticed some policemen investigating a scene near the cities centre. Ace became curious and so he ran over to see what they were doing. He was relieved to see that it wasn’t a crime scene or some sort of robbery nearby. Crime was at an all-time low during these days, as almost no criminal was brave enough to lay hurt on this planet, knowing that this was where Ace Hardlight was adopted from.
But Ace began to feel concerned, when he saw the group of Policemen investigating and surrounding something…
but what was it? He thought.
Then all of a sudden he could hear people talking loudly and pointing at the skies behind him. Ace immediately felt concerned and he had suspicions on what was about to happen. He looked up to see what they were pointing at and his eyes widened. It was the quantum beam!
The citizens were unaware of what it was. Many were talking amongst one other. Some were amazed by the sight and others looked up in fear. Ace knew what it was though, and shouted
”You must get off this planet, NOW!”
But none of them took any notice of him. Stressing, he tried to tell everyone else around him but yet again, nobody noticed him. His frustration heightened as he sprinted back towards the orphanage area and he could see that all the children were staring at the sky as well; rather astounded with what they were witnessing.
Ace tried to shout at the caregivers but they wouldn’t respond, again!
With frustration building up, Ace attempted to grab two of the children nearly to take to a space shuttle but he was shocked to notice that he couldn’t even touch them. His hand simply swiped through, as if he was nothing but a hologram, or a ghost. He tried to pick up another child but it was hopeless. Nobody noticed he was there and the sky brightened more and more.
Ace was mortified with what was about to happen to everyone and so he backed away and looked up… watching the blue skies turn to a deathly violet and clouds were being pushed away… making way for the devastating beam.
It came into contact with the ground, ripping and tearing up the land so rapidly that no one could react hastily enough to show their terror. Ace couldn’t watch - he had to cover his face. The light grew brighter and brighter between his fingers and the explosion boomed louder and louder. His temperature escalated and his heart was racing, waiting for the explosion to take his life… along with all the others around him.
The land around him disintegrated from under his feet and he felt as if he was falling. His mind was dazed and now he couldn’t think clearly at all; until he could finally escape from this nightmare.
Feeling tormented and stressed, he was now fully awake. Breathing heavily, his heart was pounding, but slowing down as he came to realize he was still very much alive. Unfortunately for everybody else on that planet, they remained dead and had long since perished since the day of the accident.
He turned himself over as the sadness took hold of him again. He was feeling lost without his team. His family.
There was nobody to talk with at DreadZone, no one he could speak to for comfort. Nobody was here to give him a helping hand, anything at all. The feeling of loneliness only grew more as the days passed by.
Longing for his team furthermore, all he could do now was weep.
Ace could not take it anymore. Every time he would feel any kind of sorrow from the accident, he would make an exit from his containment room and go into any challenge he was qualified for.
He hated feeling depressed; it made him feel as if he was a weakling, and he didn’t want anyone else at DreadZone to see him as that. He continued to fight through challenge after challenge, beating high scores previously set by other contestants. This was a great way for taking his mind off the horrors in life.
He was becoming an impressive gladiator as the days and weeks went by, and he had passed the third DreadZone boss, one of Vox’s homicidal Exterminator bots. A boss that none of the other heroes had managed to defeat so far.
For some strange reason, Ace felt quite good competing in these challenges and gaining high scores. The fans at DreadZone began to appreciate him now, rather than insult and hurl objects at him.
Even Daryn Aygo, the sports commentator would give out compliments, though he would still occasionally torment Ace about his past failures.
However, Ace still had a desire to help the other heroes escape. He was worried each time he heard about another contestant losing dreadpoints on the scoreboard, and hearing about the occasional deaths on the Vox news updates. But he was still unsure how many heroes were actually imprisoned here. At least until there was a strange gathering inside the station one day.
It was all so odd. Ace was taken to a room deep inside of the station by the DZ guards. He was shoved through the main entry roughly, causing Ace to frown and grit his teeth angrily at the guards, until he looked ahead and saw who was ahead of him.
He could not believe it, all of the other superheroes at DreadZone were in the same room! But why were they all put in here?
”Alright heroes, since I’ve noticed a few of you are having mental issues, probably due to not being able to interact with anyone outside of the DreadZone challenges, I’ll be giving you the privilege of having a limited amount of ‘social’ time. Until then, have fun… and be sure to keep up with the high ratings!”
The voice of Vox laughed manically out on the speaker afterwards, before the screen switched off.
Ace was bewildered. Is he really that stupid? Or has he got something planned for the lot of us…
This will give the heroes a chance to plan a big escape, unless Vox had something sinister planned behind the whole idea of it all.
Ace looked ahead and could already see that the other heroes were gathering to talk amongst one another. At least fifteen heroes were present here. He walked up to them to listen in on their discussion,
”Does anybody have ANY idea how these collars work? If only one of us knew of a way to deactivate them… then we may just be able to escape and alert authorities of this ghastly place!”
”Me and my partner have been trying to study how they work, but it is very risky. I don’t want us to end up like Electro Eric and Taser Taryn... it was awful what happened to them”
”I think I have an idea. The technology used for these is similar to some weapons I have worked with in the past”
Ace said, walking up to the crowd. The other heroes were somewhat surprised to see him but few of them frowned angrily.
”You? We don’t need your help. Being a complete show off at DreadZone is one thing but destroying planets. No, just, no”
”But I… but we have more important things to think about right now! I just want to help you guys out of this mess, okay?”
Ace replied, frowning yet keeping a straight face.
”I sincerely doubt it”
Ace didn’t appear to be hurt this time. He looked and felt rather irritated but refrained from showing any anger. Then he spotted someone familiar behind another hero, it was Agent Star-runner; A hero he was familiar with from Solana. One he occasionally encountered while on his heroic missions.
As a rilgarian, he was native to the planet Rilgar and was a humanoid reptilian type of race. He wore his own outfit, which was dark blue in colour with white markings and symbols, as well as dark grey armour.
”Star-runner, do you trust me on this one?”
Ace asked him. The hero turned his head to look over at him. Ace was glad to see he didn’t look angry like the other heroes but he seemed to look very suspicious. The rilgarian walked out from the group to speak with Ace. He looked up but then sighed and looked away.
”Sorry Ace but I… I don’t think you can do it”
Ace was speechless. It was obvious that Star-runner didn’t trust him at all anymore; much like the rest of the heroes in the meeting room. The other heroes and heroines in the room shunned him, trying to keep him out of their convocations.
Instead of feeling hurt, Ace was feeling very annoyed on the inside. He wasn’t even sure if he should try to convince them to let him help; considering that they simply would not let him. Ace went to sit at one of the tables on his own, pondering, thinking of what he should do now.
A content Gleeman Vox spoke as he watched from a security cam. His pet Slugga watched as well while a testbot stood behind them.
”Uhh sir… I think the heroes are trying to plan an escape, are you sure this is a good idea?”
”Of course I am sure you dimwit! I am merely testing this bunch. To see who actually has a future here at DreadZone. To see who is worthy of my time, my effort and my money. I believe I can already see who this person will be”
”And who do you think this person will be, sir?”
Vox continued his devious glare into the monitor. He had his eyes locked onto Hardlight, who was still sitting alone at the table, looking remarkably bored.
Vox was no fool. He could clearly see that Ace was the most talented contestant on DreadZone and was a big favourite among watchers, despite the big disaster he was involved with. The fans loved him for his talents in the arenas and challenges; they didn’t appear to remember why he was so hated in the galaxy in the first place. And with the fame came fortune. A big fortune to Vox and his business - as the DreadZone channel now had billions of watchers. Even more so while Ace was being shown in an episode.
DreadZone was rapidly becoming one of the most watched reality shows in the galaxy and was gaining high ratings… ratings that Vox had craved for.
The businessman had even more sinister ideas to come for Ace Hardlight, but he knew these ideas needed more time to fall into place…