Chapter 10: Exterminator’s Rise
Since the day Ace Hardlight became the first ever grand champion of DreadZone… very much had changed.
Ace was no longer the same man. His life had changed drastically and so had his personality. He became hot-headed, violent and selfish. Almost nothing like he once was. He felt no mercy for anybody who was kidnapped, or anyone else who got on his nerves.
If anyone nearby was foolish enough to bring up Bolden 3 or insult the team he once fought alongside, they wouldn’t be alive for much longer. Soon, the employees of DreadZone got the message and left him alone. Although he held a grudge against a few people there…
Then came a time when Ace was allowed to move into the main part of the DreadZone station. That very same day, Daryn Aygo mysteriously didn’t show up for work first thing in the morning like he normally would. Later on, a testbot found his dead and beaten body down the main passageway, lying face down. It appeared to be that a single devastating punch to the chest had ended his Vox news career.
Gleeman Vox didn’t seem to care and he laughed about his death, praising Ace even more for his malevolent actions. Cheap newsbots were assigned to replace his news broadcasting and announcing job for the meantime.
Even more superheroes and heroines were kidnapped and forced into DreadZone as the new seasons started, and Ace continued to compete in the challenges. Always setting new records and wooing the crowds even more. The fresh shipments of imprisoned heroes were well aware of Ace’s gruesome victory the previous year; and they hated him for it. Many heroes went on to challenge Ace to try and stop his wicked ways, but to no avail. Ace silenced any who dared to take him on at the Battledome.
He disliked them to such an extent that he even prevented several heroes from trying to escape, much to Gleeman’s favour. Ace became so trusted to Vox that he even got his deadlock collar removed, during the second season of DreadZone.
Ace could have easily escaped by now if he wanted to. But instead, he was beginning to enjoy his time at DreadZone. He became loyal to Vox and was awarded a vast amount of wealth. Vox was richer these days, all thanks to Ace bringing in more fans and watchers which, in turn, meant more money and high ratings for his show.
Ace was given a luxury apartment inside the station, with the best views over the Battledome and his own private high tech training area. He also had access to the gourmet meal menus that were teleported to him instantly from afar, the Vox Space Casino and the DZ Bar and Grill. He was treated like a celebrity and he was enjoying it, having let go of his past life.
When the third season began, Ace was set to become an Exterminator.
Vox didn’t like his Sonic 7 outfit and armour, and ordered him to get rid of it and find something new and more suitable for DreadZone.
And so Ace designed something different for DreadZone. He was able to order some of the most expensive materials and even some new gadgets to modify. It didn’t take him very long to get it done and Vox was impressed with it, saying that it was perfect for his new Exterminator job.
The new suit was different to his Sonic 7 one, as it covered his entire body apart from his face and hair. The material he used was orange-red in colour and very flexible, with tough padding on his abdomen and thighs and various blue markings. Along with his suit, he wore thick and heavy armour on his wrists and upper body; complete with shoulder pads. This armour was rather protective and could transform into a more powerful armour; capable of generating a protective yet temporary shield during arena match-ups.
The armour around his wrists could transform into another weapon he had named the Soul Stalker. It released a slow but dangerous plasma beam that tracked down opponents for up to a minute until it either reached its target, or lost its energy. He even kept his HL clone device, and built it into his new armour and continued to wear the visor part for it.
He grew to become a different person; almost unrecognisable to the hero he once was. He was now fully grown, being larger and more muscular; with longer canine teeth, as well as longer hair. He now stood nearly nine feet tall. Ace was now an Exterminator, and one of the most feared contestants at DreadZone. Even the massive robot guards patrolling the DZ station were afraid of him.
When heroes didn’t insult him and begged for mercy, Ace would still slay them anyway. Ace would sometimes fight for days in a row without sleep, due to the intake of insomnotech – a special type of nanotech which replenishes sleep, rather than heal injuries. The side effect was that it would make the user more easily stressed or hostile, due to the lack of sleep.
Ace didn’t care at all. He became addicted to the DreadZone fighting and instead of killing to take his mind off the past; he was now doing it because he enjoyed it.
With the fifth season of DreadZone drawing to an end, almost six years had passed since the first season began.
Lurking within the depths of the DreadZone station; the tall figure of Hardlight passed by, making his way down to the containment area of the station. The area was cold and dark. All the lights were out down here and everyone was seemingly asleep. The gloomy passageways were only lit up by the blue lights on Ace’s armour. The look of determination was on his face while he walked through the passageways; with the security doors opening up in his presence.
Ace eventually arrived in the containment area where the few remaining superheroes were being held captive. He treaded towards a familiar area, of which he had visited before. One of which had bothered him immensely for one particular reason.
And as he got closer, he could hear people talking. He snuck up near the room until he could hear the voices more clearly and then he frowned; as he came to realize it was the voices of women, who he was familiar with.
Scowling, he came in closer and looked through the thick glass window where he could see the man he was looking for.
Captain Starshield was seen sitting on a sofa, accompanied with four women in DreadZone outfits known as the DZ Babes; all chatting with him.
Starshield was a mysterious superhero, in a jet-black outfit, with various gold lights and a star imprinted on the front of his armour. His face was mostly hidden, except for his mouth. He was among the last high-ranked superheroes left from the season and was arguably one of the most talented to have fought in the challenges so far. He even passed many of Ace’s records and was reaching his highest dreadpoint count rapidly, in only less than a month of being there. All the Exterminators feared him, and they wouldn’t dare face him at the Battledome…
All except for Ace Hardlight of course.
He was so determined to exterminate him at the Battledome, but Starshield refused to enter his Liberator tournament. Instead, he preferred to complete every other challenge on the various planets and other Battledome challenges but still would not go near the arena match-up that would let him battle against Ace.
Ace found this to be extremely irritating, and it only grew more when he saw the DZ Babes sitting around with him. They appeared to be enjoying themselves; all giggling and having talks with Starshield as he sat there with the girls. Two of the girls were Voelhomen, an alien race that resembled humans slightly but they had long antennae from their heads, pointed ears and pink-purple toned skin. The other two were robots, similar in design to a famous pop singer, known as Courtney Gears. They also had deadlock collars, meaning they were forced to be at DreadZone.
The DZ girls were used by Vox to support the high ranking contestants, but the girls had a huge dislike for Hardlight, and were moody each time they were forced to support and stand anywhere near him.
How could they like him? They can’t even see his stupid face!
Ace thought, while still frowning with jealousy. He carried on waiting until the girls had gone and after a good few minutes, they left the containment room. Ace waited outside in the dark, waiting for them to leave. And as soon as they were well out of sight, he came out from the dark and pushed his way through the entrance.
Without hesitation, he came up behind Starshield and grabbed the back of his neck. Starshield gasped as Ace roughly manhandled him and held him up against the wall with a thud. Ace stared into his eyes in fury, before speaking out.
”So, you’re still too afraid to come and face me at the Battledome?”
Starshield didn’t respond. Instead, he defiantly glared back at him, with his own eyes locked onto his.
”Come on, SPEAK TO ME!” Ace hissed.
”I am not the same kind of person as you are, so therefore… I’ll never swoop down to your level…”
Ace screwed his face up angrily and pushed Starshield against the wall even harder. Starshield was protected by his suit, but it was still somewhat uncomfortable to be held up like this by the neck.
Ace suddenly scoffed and let his grip loosen from his neck, dropping Starshield to his feet before turning his back to him. Starshield could now breathe properly, and whilst nursing his sore neck he looked over at Ace and asked,
”I don’t understand. What happened to you? What made you change from a well-respected superhero into… this? Is all the fame and fortune here at DreadZone worth more than all the love and respect from the citizens of the universe? The people you once protected and fought for?”
”Do not bother trying to sweet talk me, freak. I told you to come to the Liberator tournament but no. You’re still being ignorant! If you are so afraid of your upcoming fate, then let me know. I could arrange for your death will be swift and painless… kind of”
”I am not afraid of you. But I am disappointed… and horrified by what you have done. What do you get out of killing all those heroes? How could you do this to them and upset so many people? Do you not have a heart at all?”
Ace went silent, before turning around and baring his teeth at Starshield…
”My heart was ripped out, torn apart and tossed aside. I don’t care about anybody. So cut the crap and FACE ME tomorrow. If you don’t first thing in the morning… then I swear that I will hunt you down, and it won’t be pretty…”
He glared dangerously at Starshield, before turning his back to him again.
Starshield could only watch Ace, while he walked off out into the darkness. He truly could not understand how somebody like Ace had changed into such a villain.
Ace Hardlight made his way back into the main part of the station, walking down the aisles and up towards the luxury area of the station. The lighting was much more pleasant here and the hallways were polished and clean. Eventually moving closer to his apartment, he was just about to enter his room when he noticed his locker’s light flashing.
Ace had a locker on the outside of his room, for when he had incoming parcels from orders he placed or anything else that was delivered to him.
He walked over to open up the locker, as he used his pin code to open it up. Peering inside the lockers contents, he sighed annoyingly.
”Ugh great. More stuff from her…”
He said in a sarcastic tone of voice. He pulled out a card, which had hearts on the outside and inside the card, he read…
‘Dear Ace. I hope you had a nice day today and got to destroy more constants! My sparkplugs tingled with joy when I saw you finish off The Brown Ranger yesterday! Oh so violent and wacky, I can’t wait to see you kill Captain Starshield! Oh and I hope you like the gifts!
Ace could only face-palm. Why did I even bother reading this crap?!
He tossed the card aside into the bin before grabbing the box of chocolates from the locker, with a mini-card dangling from the side with the words ‘From your admirer’. He wanted to face palm again as he noticed the ‘chocolates’ had flavours such as copper, zinc, brass and lead. He threw them into the bin, along with the mini-card. He then found another item in there, which appeared to be a music album of some sort. As he pulled it out he spotted that it was titled ‘Binary Ballads – Robot Love Songs’.
Ace groaned again in annoyance, and disposed of it along with the rest of the gifts so far.
This is just crazy…
Then he noticed something strange in the corner of his locker. Pulling it out, he was stumped; what the hell is this thing? Some sort of exotic weapon?
He read the label on the side, which read out ‘B70-Crotchizer’. Even more puzzled, he decided to read the instructions on the small tag dangling from it and was quick to change his expression to a disgusted one. Looking back at it with a sickened look, he immediately shoved it into the nearby rubbish bin.
He was much too speechless to say anything after that.
He rolled his eyes and went to look through his locker again, hoping not to find anymore ‘junk’ in there. But to his surprise, he pulled out something different. It was a small box which contained something powerful, judging from all the warning symbols around the sides of it. Ace was curious now, so he opened it up and what he saw came as a surprise. It was a Quantum-Demoleculizer; an extremely potent, rare and illegal weapon mod. It could kill anyone with a single shot, but it was only a one-shot-one-kill mod. Ace smiled deviously as he came to realize just how useful this weapon could be...
”Finally, a decent gift…”