Chapter 28: Break the Conflict
Ace and Bettilena made it back safety, after such a success out in the battlefield. They couldn’t help but joke around about the fact that those Space Pirates will have a very hard time finding help and travelling about; especially without their hyperspace boosters and communication devices.
“Heh, it will take them a good few light-years before they come across an inhabited planet if nobody passes by”
“Ha ha yeah, they be marooned! You sure did a splendid job out there Ace! I knew you'd have what it takes to mess with their piece of junk spaceship!” Betty replied, laughing again while Ace grinned back.
“It was kind-of straight forward anyway, but I couldn't have done it without you”
He was now feeling quite good with himself after that. Working alongside Betty again did remind him of the good times he had with the team as a teenager. Bettilena was the person who spent most of her time raising him when he was just a kid. She had also taught him how to pilot a spaceship when he was 12, even though it was illegal for under 16 year olds to pilot spaceships of any kind. He respected her dearly, just as much as Kurt - who adopted him when he was just 4 years old.
It was feeling almost too good to be true, to be working alongside his old team again. He didn’t feel as shy or awkward around them as he did just a couple of weeks back.
However He was still troubled by Jenna and Jake’s feelings towards him, but nonetheless it was still pleasant to be able to interact with the other team members.
Ace and Betty arrived back into the upper level of the Star-Seeker. The rest of the Seekers were already waiting there, anticipating their arrival, some even gave off a sigh of relief as they all stood there.
“Finally, there you are! Man, I saw some of the fight on the radar from here and it was kick-ass! I should have joined in but... Kurt wouldn’t let me, heh”
Aster told the two while shrugging.
“Well we had to stay here to guard our starcruiser... just in case they attacked us as well. But besides that, the both of you did a job good out there. But please, at least give us notice next time; we were quite concerned!”
Kurt told them both. Bettilena chuckled while Ace just stood there and shuddered.
“Hey, it was her idea...”
“But you wanted to go show 'em who's boss too though!”
Bettilena said after Ace, giving him a friendly nudge.
“Nevertheless it was a good effort for the both of you. I do agree that we should get us some defence for our ship though; if we continue to be challenged by pirates and other goons. But I do wonder why the Space Pirates are in the Solana Galaxy to begin with. They don't usually journey outside of Polaris”
“Yeah, I thought that was a bit strange”
Ace replied to Kurt, before noticing that Aster and even Jake were talking to each other, and taking a glance at Ace now and then. Aster walked over towards him and Ace looked back, noticing that he wanted to speak with him.
“Uhh Ace... just wanted to say, nice job out there in the field. And thanks for looking out for Betty during the fight. I do admit I wasn’t sure about you being in the team again but... I think you're doin' pretty good so far”
“Thanks Aster. I’m doing the best can to help out around here, making up for things and all…”
Jake was standing afar, but not giving off an aggressive expression as he usually did towards Ace. But Jenna turned and walked away into the lounge area to avoid any eye contact this time.
This was beginning to bother Ace. He wanted to know what he could do to settle the conflict and he looked down, thinking to himself. He hadn't been hostile towards her at all, and he wanted to know what he was doing wrong to bother her and Jake so much.
“I think you should try talking with them...”
Aster told Ace. He agreed and headed to where Jenna left, guessing that she would be easier to talk with first – after all the insults Jake threw at him over the past two weeks of being there.
The room was dim in light but enough to see clearly. Jenna stood by one of the large glass windows, staring out into space. Ace walked in to see her standing there motionless. She was well aware of his presence, as her long furred ear turned in Ace’s direction. He looked ahead at her, before asking...
“What am I doing wrong?”
She didn't move or respond.
“What am I doing to bother you and Jake so much? I'm trying so hard to make it up to you, but neither of you are giving me a chance”
She turned around, scowling at him. Ace knew this wasn't a good sign, but he stood there; desperate to try and get through to one of the verpardi siblings. She replied again;
“You never gave any of those other heroes a chance... so what makes you think that YOU deserve a chance?”
“Look, I am sorry for what I did but I can't change what I've already done okay?”
“Sorry isn't good enough. Do you even realize how much you hurt us? We were so... worried about you after you left. It only got worse when we thought that you were going to die in a blood sport on live holovision. But after... seeing what you became...”
Jenna paused. Guilt began to overcome Ace again; the same kind of feelings as when he was reunited with the team again weeks back. He swallowed and looked away to the side, shutting his eyes.
“I know what I did was awful. Soon after Ratchet defeated me, I realized what a big mistake I had made; that mistake of leaving you guys and eventually becoming an Exterminator. And I do apologise for doing that... but nothing like that will never happen again”
“I don't believe you. You’ve probably just put on a show at the prison to slither your way out, to try and build up your lost fame and fortune!”
“...What? No I didn't! Just so you know; Kurt and the other police officers gave me the chance to be free again. I never asked for it! I was prepared to spend the rest of my life in Zordoom prison!”
“And so you should have! You don't care about us; you never did after DreadZone got to your head. You don't have a heart anymore and there is no way somebody like YOU is sorry...”
Ace's guilt vanished for a moment. He was distasteful with what Jenna just said.
That isn't true, not at all!!!
He frowned and shut his eyes again, thinking of how to respond to her. Yet she continued to speak…
“...so stop trying to toy with us, we don’t want to be hurt by your actions again!”
“Don't you dare say that I'm not sorry because I AM - and I always cared about you and the team, even while I was at DreadZone! I was worried sick about what happened with you after our mission went wrong! And my time at Zordoom gave me the chance to think over all the mistakes I made in life. So there, I AM sorry. And I do care about you guys... whatever you say won’t change that!”
Ace was standing right up close to Jenna, ensuring that she was listening to what he had to say. She stood close as well, staring back up at him in an almost defiant fashion. They stared into each other eyes, determined to have made their points.
However, Jenna's expression began to shift; she was thinking about what he told her. Ace persisted to stare down at her though, stern and tenacious; hoping she had listened. He could now notice her expression wasn't full of hate. Somehow, he saw a hint of sympathy from her; as she looked into his eyes.
She took one step back; appearing to be lost for words. Jenna certainly didn't look angry, and so Ace's expression changed to a calmer one. She sighed and closed her eyes, losing eye contact with Ace before turning back towards the doorway. Ace watched her leave and he noticed Jake at the doorway; as Jenna made an exit.
“Jenna, what's wrong?”
“...I'm fine, it's nothing...”
Jake didn't believe her though after she brushed past him; especially when he noticing that her eyes were teary. He immediately became infuriated.
Storming up to Ace, he shoved him roughly against his chest, despite Ace being much bigger and taller that himself, but he didn't care about that. He was fuming and even had his teeth bared.
“What the hell did you do!? Keep your hands off my sister!”
“I didn't touch her!”
Ace looked away from Jake. He wasn't in the mood to talk, especially after Jake shoved him again. He stood his ground, but wasn't intent on shoving him back. Kurt noticed the tension though and he rushed in quickly, witnessing the conflict Jake fuelled.
“Alright cut it out! Just look at yourself... you're acting like an enraged and out-of-control teenager!” Kurt told Jake in an angry tone.
“I still don’t understand why you bother supporting this creep...”
Jake took a step back from Kurt and Ace, before turning his back to both of them and rushing out the room.
Ace was displeased with all that had happened. He stood there, crossing his arms and giving off a glare of distaste at the wall ahead of him.
“I'd rather be back in Zordoom than put up with this...”
“Come on Ace, it's not like all of us are reacting this way...”
“It is quite clear that they don't want me around. If all I do is cause hurt and anger around here, then I will leave. No matter what I do, they're just going to hate me”
“It's only been a couple of weeks. But... they were both deeply affected after you left. They shared a close bond with you, and they even thought you were dead after Ratchet defeated you. At least until a few months ago, when I found out you were in prison”
“I really screwed things up, didn't I?”
“But you still have a chance to fix it. You have done a lot of good already. Me, Betty, Aster and even Leera are pleased to have you around again. So don't give up yet...”
Ace gave off a hopeless sigh. He continued to stand there in the darkened room on his own, folding his arms. Kurt rushed off to answer an emergency call from an unknown caller, something which it didn't catch Ace's attention at all.
He was feeling gloomy after that ordeal. The day started off nicely, with him fighting the Space Pirates with Betty but then it turned nasty as soon as he interacted with Jake and Jenna.
He felt hopeless trying to get through to them, but after he gave Jenna that speech… he thought that maybe he finally got through to her. He wasn't heartless, and he wanted her and everyone else to know that as a fact.
Maybe he did get through, maybe he didn't.
He stood there in the room alone, deep in his own thoughts. That was until Kurt came back into the room.
“Ace, the call I just received was from the President’s wife, Mrs Phyronix. Marcadia has been on lock-down for several weeks, because of a Space Pirate invasion. They've been pillaging the Solana Galaxy for raritanium...”
“...and I was going to ask if you'd like to help them. They’re requesting the assistance of various Galactic Mercenaries”
“Why should I? I'm no superhero. And they're the ones who put the blame on me for that... accident. So there is no point in me going.”
“But Carlson isn't the president anymore, and the new President doesn't hold anything against you as far as I’m concerned. Please Ace, they're begging for our assistance... and we could really use your talent. You’re one of the best mercenaries in our team”
Ace said nothing. A hint to Kurt that he didn't want anything to do with the mission. The markazian knew he was still upset from the argument he had before, and so he decided to head off with the rest of the Seekers.
“We will be on Marcadia...”
He vanished from the entry, leaving Ace in the dimly lit room again.
He wasn't sure what to do now. He could either stay there on his own, and ponder over the thoughts troubling his mind, or go aid them in the fight. He was reluctant to go, especially to Marcadia; where the previous President once lived. But at the same time, staying behind and not helping wouldn't fix anything neither.
“...okay fine. I will go.”