Chapter 9: The end of Season one
Ace felt as if he was a lost soul; with the feeling of uncertainty for his future. He was unsure of what to do with his life, other than to fight and compete on the live holovision show and nothing more. Conquering these challenges was the only thing that appeared to keep him going. The only thing people seemed to admire him for anymore.
He never wanted to see any of the other heroes again after what they had said to him. Ace couldn’t care less when he heard about one of them being killed on the news. He simply shuddered and continued on with the DreadZone challenges, piloting the hoverships and any other vehicle he was qualified to use on a planet he competed on.
He lost all hope in ever having to see his team again. Ace had accepted his fate to stay at DreadZone until the day he would be killed in a challenge or by an Exterminator. He saw it as a punishment for failing to prevent the Bolden 3 disaster from happening.
Despite how dark and cruel this fate had been, Ace become more used to life here. He started to appreciate the support from the spectators and fans of DreadZone even more so, and didn’t mind fighting for their viewing pleasure. He was even gaining praise from Gleeman Vox, and despite how sick and twisted Vox was, Ace did not dislike him anymore. Vox never attacked him about Bolden 3 and never said anything nasty about the Sonic 7. To Ace, there wasn’t much of reason to hate him now.
Ace was becoming lost in DreadZone. His judgment over what was right and what was wrong was becoming very misguided and shrouded by a new kind of person of who he wasn’t…
The first season of DreadZone was drawing to an end. It was the final day, the final episode of the season and the Battledome seats were sold out. All 400,000 seats were filled with eager fans, all watching and cheering from the crowds while Ace ran on through a death course; shooting down DZ strikers, reapers and other killer aliens and robots alike.
To Ace, It was exciting taking down so many robots and deadly creatures. He thought it was one of the best death courses he’d been through in the past few weeks. Jumping over deadly lasers and titanium blades that could easily shred him to pieces, he avoided them again with sheer ease and talent. Leaping up platform after platform, it was all too thrilling. More blade-spheres came after him from above to try slashing at his legs, but he was quick to avoid them and shot them all down with his launcher.
Crowds saw his success and were cheering, whilst he went to climb down the hovering platforms to reach the final part of the Battledome.
Leaping down from the final platform, Ace was relieved to see he had completed the death course in one piece. He didn’t lose much of his nanotech neither. He saw a nanocrate nearby and smashed it open with a kick, releasing the blue nanomites into his body to heal the few cuts and bruises he had obtained while fighting through the course.
Feeling in top condition, he sprinted on ahead to enter the largest arena of the Battledome, expecting to come face to face with the final Exterminator. The one that will help earn him the championship of DreadZone, a championship nobody else had managed to win so far.
He came out of the entrance and paced up into the arena. He found it strange… there was no one here waiting for him. It was an empty battlefield, with only the sounds of thousands of fans on the stadiums. They cheered louder when they saw Ace enter the arena, but they were demanding more action; of which Ace could not deliver - seeing as there are no opponents for him to take on just yet.
That was until he saw another door open on the east side of the stadium. He was stumped when he saw one of the other heroes run out into the open. It was Platinum Paul, another of the high ranking contestants at DreadZone. From the planet Kerwan, he looked very human-like but with the typical 3 fingers and most of his body was covered in a protective suit, except for his face. He wore a dark grey suit with silver armour.
From the west side of the stadium, a heroine named Lady Fyra appeared. She was the last surviving female contestant, but was quite talented and only behind Ace with the dreadpoint ranking. As her name suggested, she specialized in fire weaponry and was from planet Aridia. She wore a red coloured tracksuit.
And finally, from the north opened another stadium door, introducing Ranger Roberto. Unlike most of the other superheroes, he was a robot. Built on planet Quartu, he was designed and created to be a guardian of that planet, protecting the robot factories from being exploited by Chairmen Drek. His metallic frame was tinted in a gold sheen and he held two weapons and often flew with his jetpack.
Ace had no idea why these other heroes were here and he could only stand there, staring at them. The other three heroes were equally as puzzled as Ace was.
”Righty-o people! Daryn Aygo here again as we kick off the start to the end of the DreadZone season! With a little over 1 trillion fans watching live! Here we have the lovely but deadly Lady Fyra, Ranger Roberto with nerves of steel, and from the planet Kerwan we have Platinum Paul. And finally… the highest ranking contestant and most hated hero of the year, Ace Hardlight!”
The crowds were relatively silent now, listening to Daryn speak out on the megaphone. Ace could only frown, as Aygo’s words had gotten onto his nerves once more.
If only I could get a chance to meet that idiot in person…!
The other three heroes looked at each other and took no notice of Ace. They were about to walk up to one another but another loud voice started speaking from the megaphone, stopping them.
“Alright DreadZone fans, this is Gleeman Vox; proud owner and founder of DreadZone! This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the season finale that it sure to set the battlefield on fire! Surely to excite and amaze you all from here, and beyond!”
The crowds appeared to be very excited now and cheered, all anticipating what was to come. Ace could only look up at the crowds and listen to Vox…
when am I finally going to fight somebody? He thought.
”In this finale, we will get to see who the true DreadZone really champion is - the great gladiator of them all! As you can see here, we have the last 4 contestants. They are the bravest, most talented and the toughest of the lot. So who will be the champion, you may ask? Well, you’ll soon see as they will fight one another… to the DEATH!”
Gleeman let out a psychotic laugh. The crowds were mixed with feelings. Many were shocked with the news, several were silent, and some were even disgusted. But the majority of the fans were excited; cheering loudly and chanting out their favourite contestant’s name.
Ace was gobsmacked. This HAS to be a joke!
He couldn’t believe what Vox had just announced. He was feeling very uncertain, utterly unsure of what he should do now.
The other three heroes were mortified by the announcement. They huddled together and looked at one another. There was no way they would fight each another. They began to talk together, huddled around in their small group.
Ace glared over at them and saw them talking, but he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Even so he could clearly see they were all stressed and maddened by the situation. Something wasn’t right.
He didn’t know what to think of them until all three began to stare back at him. They exchanged hateful looks at Ace, and they began walk out together in a slow and steady pace.
”There is no way I’ll ever fight either of you guys, let alone destroy. But him… he needs to be taught a lesson. He’s the only villain here as far as we’re concerned!”
Paul said, and the other two heroes next to him nodded.
Ace felt utterly disgusted. Looking at these superheroes made him feel disgusted; after all the things he did for this universe. For Bogon… Thyrullian… Solana and many planets within those galaxies - more than they can could ever count for. After all the lives he saved, all the bolts he donated to the poor. After all the help he offered to the other heroes of the galaxy; even saving several of their lives during missions.
Ace was so enraged! He was betrayed, shaken and furious.
How dare they shun me! How dare they insult me, and my team!
I’ll… I’ll KILL them!
He gave off a fearful glare while gritting his teeth angrily, showing off his sharp canines. Ace grabbed out his Launcher, before lowering himself to prepare for combat. The other three heroes moved in closer on Ace, in an attempt to single him out. Fyra and Roberto moved out to each side to draw in closer, all looking mad and deranged.
Ace suddenly moved. He leapt from the circle they had formed around him and flipped back through the air, turning himself around in midair to land on the ground several meters behind Roberto. He started firing his gun rapidly at his back, stunning him with the sudden shots and Roberto moved around, grabbing out his large twin bazookas.
Lady Fyra cried out angrily and ran towards Ace, her gloves lighting up bright as flames started to take light and fire towards him suddenly.
Narrowly avoiding the blasts of fire, Ace strafed around the arena, firing his launcher continuously at the 3 heroes ahead of him. Platinum Paul did the same towards Ace with his own pistol. Lady Fyra continued to chase Ace, trying to blast more of her power towards him. Utterly irritated, Ace stopped to gain his focus on her. Aiming his blaster towards her, he charged it up for a few seconds - as he had his mind set on his target. His launcher released a sudden and powerful laser beam, knocking Fyra down several metres. She screamed out and caught Paul’s attention. He looked and ran over to her as she struggled to get back onto her feet,
”I’m alright; just keep your focus on that monster!” Fyra yelled.
Paul nodded and turned to Ace, who was rushing towards them. Still fuming, Ace shouted out angrily and prepared another charged beam. Paul had time to react this time though and he moved hastily; avoiding the powerful blast from Hardlight’s launcher. Ace was even closer now to Paul and was eager to throw a punch at his face but he was swiftly knocked over by one of Roberto’s rockets, which hit him from the right.
Ace almost fell to his side but was lucky to regain his footing to turn himself around to come face to face with the robotic hero. Its eyes were gleaming red - a clear indication that this robot was in its termination mode and incredibly angry. Ace bared his teeth and suddenly swiped at him with his launcher, slashing Rob’s face with the blades of his gun. Stumbling backwards, the robot hero tried to grab his rocket launcher but was clipped again by Ace’s gun, and one of his bazookas went flying through the air and slid across the floor. It then fell off the boundaries and into the lava pit.
Ace was shot from behind right there and then, feeling the stinging shots from Platinum Paul’s pistol.
Ace knew he must use his hard-light clones now, and so he pressed his trigger and vanished from the scene, reappearing with four clones. He controlled his clones and they all had their launchers, shooting at Paul, who in turn was firing back at Ace himself.
Paul was confused though, and didn’t know which clone was the real Ace Hardlight. Roberto was stunned as well and tried to scan each clone to see which one had blood running through its veins. Rob was shot at repeatedly a split second later as two of Ace’s clones started attacking him. He moved out of the way and tried to get out his other bazooka but was too slow to react and was continuously shot at, slowly losing nanotech from the lasers hitting his metallic frame.
Lady Fyra had recovered and begun sprinted towards Ace, setting one of his hard-light clones on fire! It only took a few seconds for the hard-light clone to disappear and she was disappointed it wasn’t the real deal.
Ace was furious now though. His true self was next to her and he suddenly applied a high kick to her back. She slid across the floor, yelling in alarm; further away from Ace, the hard-light clones and Platinum Paul. She frowned annoyingly and attempted to sprint back…
Paul persisted in firing at Ace and avoiding the shots the verpardi fired back at him. Paul had finally managed to take down another clone, leaving Ace with only two of his clones.
Roberto then attempted to charge Ace and finally had his focus on the real copy of Hardlight. Ace charged up his launcher though and released a blast at the robotic hero before he could even shoot in retaliation. Roberto fell backwards with a loud thud, and Lady Fyra came in for Ace again with a raging yell and a fiery hand - ready to set Ace’s true self on fire.
But Ace was no fool. He dodged her incoming attack as she came screaming past him and he charged his launcher again, to shoot at her. She was hastily blasted across the battle floor and towards the edge of the arena, where she fell into the deadly lava pit below.
The crowds were all astounded with what they were witnessing and some even screamed. But none of the spectator screams were as loud as the ones coming out of Fyra as she was being incinerated alive. Her awful cries of agony stopped after a few seconds as her corpse was reduced to ash.
Ace hadn’t even noticed her death yet as he was too focused on Roberto charging at him again. Paul, however, saw and heard it all and he cried out for her in vain. He was devastated, before turning to look at Ace with fury in his eyes.
”You will PAY for THIS!!!”
He cried, whilst he ran in to aid the Ranger. Ace was still in a state of fury as he ran up to Roberto with his two remaining hard-light clones. All three shot at him and finally, Rob was showing signs of damage as one of his limbs started to spark and lose control of his weapon. Paul suddenly dashed in front of the robotic ranger however and fired his pistol at Ace.
Nevertheless, Ace and his clones simply knocked him down to the ground and all circled around Paul, towering over him and kicking at him repeatedly. Roberto had one last weapon though and he fired a green laser beam from his palm, startling Ace and pushing him further away. Paul rolled himself over to nurse his aching head, having received a few hard kicks to the skull from the onslaught.
With his anger rising moreover, Ace came to realize he only had one clone now so he decided to disconnect from it, for better mental focus.
He leapt over Paul and quickly stabbed his launcher into the chest of Roberto, its blades pierced through his metallic armour with ease and he charged it up before letting loose a devastating blast of blue energy. The light of the blast faded and revealed a huge gaping hole in Rob’s iron chest. He was speechless and his lights started flickering.
Ace retracted his launcher and knocked him to the ground. He towered over his robotic body and grasped one of his arms; the arm he had fired the green coloured beam from.
Ace twisted it back and forward, before ripping it from his socket and throwing it aside. Wires were seen exposed as his joints starting to spark violently. Roberto was now helpless and could not fight back. Ace thrashed his launcher about and stomped on his metallic body until he was no longer functioning.
Paul was in a state of terror; he now saw what Ace was truly capable of and he felt fearful, needing to turn back and run but he knew that wasn’t an option here at DreadZone.
Ace was now satisfied, and the crowds cheered and roared with excitement for his efforts. Ranger Roberto was destroyed, his damaged frame lay there with pieces of his armour and limbs scattered. Smoke was seen smouldering from his robotic corpse.
Ace clearly wasn’t thinking straight from this point onwards. His mind was full of ferocity and hatred. He observed Platinum Paul nearby and threw him the look of a killer.
Looking into Ace’s eyes was frightening. Paul stood up, wishing he could turn around and run. He grabbed hold of his pistol again and aimed it towards Ace, firing rapidly. It was the only thing he could do to protect himself.
Ace went after him, attempting to avoid the stinging shots from Paul’s pistol as he in turn, pulled out his HL launcher. They fired continuously towards one another non-stop while Ace moved in closer each time, narrowly avoiding the shots.
Paul was becoming even more tense and frightened. Ace came in closer for Paul and his nerves started to cause him to shake and stutter, making him accidentally drop his pistol from the recoil.
Ace saw this as the perfect opportunity to take him down. Paul just stood there petrified. Ace lashed out with his HL launcher, scraping across his chest’s battle armour with a loud screech and sending Paul to the floor and skidding sideways across it. He panicked and rolled over to get back onto his knees but was swiped at again by Hardlight’s gun, the blades slashing through the fabric on the back of his outfit. Paul cried out as he felt the sharp edges slice his skin underneath; blood immediately seeping from his cuts. Paul felt a sudden burst of adrenalin, allowing him to give Ace a hard whack to the wrist with his steel capped boot, forcing Ace to shout out and let go of his launcher. The gun was sent flying and landing several metres away from him with a loud metallic screech.
Ace’s wrist hurt slightly after being kicked and he lost focus of Paul for a moment. Breathing heavily, he looked back down at Paul and scowled even more. Paul was terrified, bracing himself for what was to come.
Ace did not bother retrieve his launcher. Instead, he struck Paul in the chest with his booted foot and repeated that action, again… and again… with the occasional kick when Paul tried to resist, moving himself to try and avoid each blow Ace delivered.
Eventually, Paul felt his armour break and a shoulder pad came off with a cling to the ground. Ace thrashed him very hard again in the chest and with that, Paul’s chest armour shattered. Ace noticed this and put a halt to his attacks for a second.
He could only stand there, looking down menacingly at Paul as he tried to crawl further away from him, clutching his sore chest now that his armour couldn’t protect him from any more hits to the abdomen. He felt battered, sore and very tired. All hope appeared to be lost and he could only try to catch his breath - each time he inhaled air, it hurt, a lot. He looked at Ace, who had retrieved his Hardlight Launcher from the floor not far from them. Ace trekked up to Paul; with his eyes locked onto his. Paul let out a cough, before looking up at Ace…
”Please… stop this…”
Ace did not respond. He continued his daunting glare down at him, thinking of what to do next. Paul coughed up a few times again, before opening his mouth to speak…
”Please Ace… please stop. I’m, I’m sorry for what has happened…”
”Sorry? Whatever. None of you cared. You call me a murderer, a killer. The lot of you did. You and the rest of them are pathetic excuses as heroes!”
”But, I truly am sorry… it was the other heroes who, who kept saying those nasty things” Paul coughed “Don’t do this Ace… you’ll… you’ll…regret-”
“Shut your mouth!”
Ace sneered angrily with his teeth exposed, before giving Paul another hard kick at his side, causing him to cough up and groan again; in pain.
Ace held his launcher out and started to charge it up and Paul could only watch. The launcher’s power meter raised and the gun’s tip lit up a bright blue, ready to deliver a deadly shot…
”Ace” Paul coughed “Please stop-”
He directed his launcher’s barrel at Paul’s face and fired. A devastating shockwave impacted his face and he was electrocuted and burned from the inside of his body. The pain he suffered stopped after only a few seconds as the shockwave eased and his body slumped, flat on the ground. His face was charred and had no signs of life.
The crowds on the stadiums fell silent after witnessing the finishing blow. Ace stood there over his body, panting slightly as he came to realize that he was victorious. He looked up at the cameras watching over him and looked all around him as the crowds started to cheer even louder. The chanting of ‘Ace Hardlight’ could be heard from the stands, as they clapped and praised him for his victory.
Ace raised his fist in the air, and the crowds cheered for him even more. He felt somewhat, proud.
He was now the grand champion of DreadZone.