Chapter 45: The Rising Star
The passing of time was unknown for Ace once he had fallen into the depths of sleep. It was blissful to be in such a state, being away from the physical pains and nightmares of reality he had faced earlier on.
It was almost as if he did not want to escape from this relaxing world. Even so, at times he would see visions of the people who he longed for, with his fallen comrade showing up most often. It was pleasant to see memories from the past, from times when the team was whole. As he dreamt more about the pleasant past, he realized that those memories could never be relived again. It was disheartening. He leaned more towards the need to wake up from this state of mind.
To see what had remained in real life.
A blurred vision was what welcomed him from his sleep. He passively began to regain the feeling over his entire body, realizing that he was in a much more comfortable state that what he was before. The pains were mostly gone, although his body ached a little when he moved about. Soon his sight began to return normal, and he was quite relieved to notice that he was in his own room, the one inside of the Star Seeker.
A slight warm glow was gleaming behind of the curtains of his room, but his attention was drawn to the two people perching on the nearby couch.
Bettilena and Jenna were resting there.
It was such a relief to see them. Yet he was unsure what to say or do right about now. He moved up a bit, attempting to sit himself up. He was feeling a bit sore, and he noticed some band aids and bandages around parts of his arms, examining them closely with his own two eyes.
Then he heard one of the female Seekers shifting from the sounds he was making. He saw that is was Jenna moving, her eyes opened slightly as she yawned, before closing them again to turn over. She was probably exhausted, and hadn’t noticed that Ace was awake yet.
He called to her in a quiet tone. She was immediately woken by the voice, lifting her head up to look back at him. He felt warm upon seeing her smile at him again, despite what was troubling him on the inside.
She got up steadily to walk up by his bedside. They exchanged a warm grin with one another. Yet Ace could feel that she was hurting on the inside, much like he was. He wasn’t sure what to say. He found it hard to find the right words to start off with,
“It is good to have you here with us again, Ace.”
“I’m glad to be here too…”
Ace looked up at her, warmed by her voice. Yet, he couldn’t help but think about how she and the rest of the Seekers were doing.
“Are you okay? How are the others? Are they… alright?”
“Yeah, we’re fine. Jake and Aster are helping out there with the Vaelidians. And Leera is recovering well too. You two went through a hell of a lot...”
“We sure did…”
Ace said to her, shifting himself up into a more comfortable position. Then he couldn’t help but notice he was virtually topless. He blushed slightly, this being the first time he had been without a shirt on in front of her, well at least while he was conscious.
Jenna chuckled slightly at his facial expression, before he grinned back at her deviously.
“Sorry about your clothes, heh, but we needed them off for first aid. As you will notice, Betty took care of that large wound you had over your body. She used nanotech to heal it but left the rest of your injuries to heal on their own.”
Ace lifted the sheets of his blanket to see down on his body. He immediately noticed that the large slash wound was no longer there, although there was some bruising and band aids around the rest of his body. But it was such a relief to see that he would not be getting scarred from that large wound he had obtained from the karnifex king.
“Man, I better thank Bettilena when she wakes up. She is an amazing person.”
“She really is. Betty also mentioned that you disliked being in hospitals, hence the reason you’re recovering here at home instead. Despite what the Vaelidian doctors recommended.”
“Heh, she knows me too well…”
Ace smirked to himself, still feeling grateful for what Bettilena had done for him. It brought much relief as well, knowing that the other Seekers were recovering fine.
Although with the absence of one of their members, Ace did find it real hard to stay smiling for long. It was a hellish battle that he could never forget, and he could only wonder what happened after the evil king had fallen.
“What is happening on Vaelidius now?”
“The planet appears to be in a good state, the karnifex are almost completely wiped out. The majority of the verpardi are already on the surface helping clean-up, in preparation to begin rebuilding civilization. 3 days have passed since then and-“
“What, 3 days? I’ve been out that long?”
“Yes, you weren’t in good shape. But knowing you, I knew that you would recover quickly.”
“I should be doing something. I can’t just be laying around in here while everybody else is working-“
Ace began to shift more, about to get out of bed. At least until Jenna stood in his way and shook her head slowly.
“Don’t be so hasty, Ace. You have done more than any single person could pull off: you saved Vaelidius; you defeated the one villain who had destroyed much of this galaxy and its people; you helped free our race from the terrible threat that hung over them for years and… you saved many lives by what you did.”
“-not everybody though.”
Ace turned away for a moment, closing his eyes upon remembering it. It pained him knowing that Kurt Swiftblade wasn’t here to share the pride of winning back Vaelidius and saving the galaxy.
He wished that he could have saved him, he really did. Ace looked back at Jenna to notice that she was beginning to tear up as well. She closed her eyes and breathed in slowly, before speaking.
“…you did your best Ace. Kurt would be so proud of you. To see what you have accomplished for these people. To see how far you have come.”
“I know, but I want everybody to know that I didn’t do this alone”
“We’ll make sure of it, we also found out about Kaedos’ plans. Those computers in that citadel uncovered a lot of shocking facts; you were right all along about Bolden 3. We are all so sorry…”
“That isn’t anybody’s fault. Only that monster is the one to blame, but he is gone now; and he won’t be harming anybody again…”
Ace kept his gaze from Jenna to avoid feeling distraught from her teary eyes. She still smiled though, placing a hand onto his shoulder in comfort.
It was not long until Bettilena shifted to wake up. She noticed Ace and Jenna there before reflexively making her way over to join them.
She was quiet and not her usual bubbly self, which Ace had seemed to notice immediately. He looked over at her before speaking,
“Thank you for everything, Bettilena.”
“Not a problem, Ace. I did what I could to help you and everybody else. I have only used nanotech for healing the worst of the injuries the soldiers and civilians had.”
Bettilena smiled at him happily. Even though she was an artificial life form, Ace could tell that she understood his mood well.
She was quiet for a while, as was Jenna. Ace was no longer able to keep up with grinning. Betty looked saddened by his sorrow, looking over at him to speak,
“Kurt Swiftblade’s funeral will be held tomorrow. Only we will be attending, but if you believe it is appropriate, Malvin and a few of the Vaelidian rebel soldiers would like to attend to pay their respects. I wanted to ask you first if that’s okay…”
“They can come. I know that Kurt would have appreciated their presence… and I know that they respect him. Now if you don’t mind, I would like to get up”
Ace began to move from his position; both Jenna and Betty moved aside to let him. He couldn’t stand it being stuck in bed, and the two other Seekers seemed to have realized this.
Bettilena even went to retrieve some clothing for him, handing it over to him. Jenna looked a little uncertain about him getting up, seeing as he still had injuries around his body. Even so, Bettilena appeared to know that Ace was fit enough to come out. She moved aside as he put on some clothing, before saying,
“I’ll round up the others, so that I can go prepare us a nice big breakfast. Does that sound good?”
“Heh yeah, that sounds really good…”
Ace replied, feeling a bit better. Both Jenna and Bettilena left the room to give back his personal space. He was looking forward to seeing the other Seekers again, and to help prepare for the final farewell to a fallen hero.
The next day was welcomed in by the pleasant warm rays of the planet’s multiple suns. Vaelidius was indeed a beautiful world, especially now that it was free of the turmoil the karnifex had it under for the past 29 years.
Verpardi and aleumarr citizens from around the globe were working together to clean the streets of the dead karnifex, shipping their carcasses off the planet to hurl them into a distant sun. The bodies were not worth leaving here to rot, the people believed.
Yet they also had the job of recovering the bodies of their fallen comrades. It was a tough task. Most Vaelidians preferred to be cremated when they were to die, although some individuals and family lines had other traditions. Many of these warzones were set to be turned into memorial gardens or national parks, a traditional the verpardi follow after a large-scale war. To honour all those who were lost. Cremated warriors would be scattered throughout these forests once the replantation had gone underway.
In a private area situated near the outskirts of a city, a small group of people had gathered; it was the place of Kurt’s funeral.
The two Vaelidian suns shone together in the sky, only accompanied by the lush peach-coloured clouds. It was a perfect day for such an occasion.
Ace awaited his turn for speech. Each of the Seekers had given their words of respect and farewell. Even Malvin stood up to give his own words for thought on Kurt, and Ace had to admit, he was feeling a bit uneasy about the thought of standing over there.
He knew he wasn’t very good with speaking from the heart, especially with a whole group of people in his presence. Yet, he still wanted to try. Even though Kurt was gone, he still wished to say goodbye to him, one way or another.
It was now his turn, after Aster gave speech over the uncovered grave. Ace felt nervous. He was sitting with Jake and Jenna, and they both exchanged looks with him. The siblings could sense that Ace was a little uncertain about standing up, and so they nodded to him in support, smiling too in an attempt to calm him.
Ace felt more encouraged to get up from his position to walk over to the gravesite. His heart rate immediately began rising, before he took in a large breath to set his mind to ease.
“He was no ordinary superhero; he was more than that. He was the founder of the Seven Seekers, a team previously known as the Sonic 7.
“He guided us all through thick and thin. Kurt was the most selfless person I ever knew, gathering us together to form a team - to live as a family unit.
“Kurt originated from the Polaris Galaxy. Along the way he took in Bettilena Flightfire, despite the fact that she was a Valkyrie; a feared criminal race of robots, rivalling the Space Pirates.
Once he made it to the Solana Galaxy, he allowed Aster Aftershock to join in his adventures. Even though he was once part of the Blargian army, led by the notorious Chairman Drek at the time.
“Kurt was no discriminate. He saw the good in people if it were there, no matter what race they were, nor what kind of background they had.
I say this because he gave me a second chance as well. Despite all the terrible things I did - sins that most people would never forgive you for - he still had faith in me all these years, despite having none myself at the time of my parole.
“He came all the way back to Polaris to save me, taking me out of prison to give me another chance at life. Even while other people were against his actions, he still had hope. And I am forever thankful for what he has done for me, and the team as a whole.
If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today. None of us would be.
We would have never found Vaelidius - or the Kavorian Galaxy at all.
“Kurt helped me take down King Kaedos, but not without the cost of his own life. Without him, I would not have been able to pull this victory off. Not a chance. And I want everybody to remember that.
“He is my hero. The one who raised me to be what I am now. The father I never had. And so, this is my goodbye to you, Kurt Swiftblade”
Ace picked up some of the mahogany coloured dirt, sprinkling it over the grave down below in the pit. He felt more at ease after speaking out about him. Feeling more closure and comfort to what had happened.
I’ll see you on the other side.
The hurt still lingered alongside Ace; he knew that it would take time for this to heal, much more in comparison to the physical. He was all too familiar with how painful it was to lose someone, or something so important.
Yet being around the remaining Seekers did bring much relief. He could clearly feel that it was far more comforting to grieve around them, rather than going off on his own like he did in the past. He remained strong, thinking about the future rather than the past. And with Kurt’s fall on planet Vaelidius, the remaining Seekers had decided to permanently stay here with him.
Ace was particularly fond of this idea. This was what he had wanted for a long time; a chance to settle down and live out their days in harmony. And with this being the home planet of his species, it was the perfect choice.
The Star Seeker, their home star cruiser was not forgotten neither. They couldn’t bear to leave it as scrap-metal. The Seekers and a few locals helped convert the huge ship into a permanent home on the planet’s surface. It was a rather unique looking house, very expansive. Like a small futuristic apartment complex, if you will. They even added a pool for the piercing hot days which were very frequent here on Vaelidius. The home was a haven to the team, they even brought in curious nearby townsfolk to view the place.
The clean-up of Vaelidius was progressing steadily. All traces of the karnifex were gone in just a mere couple of weeks. The rebuilding of cities would take some time however. But with the combined work of the Vaelidian people, changes were already becoming noticeable in the passing days. And the cities and towns began to become livelier once more.
More than two weeks had passed since Kurt’s funeral. The weather had been pleasant for the time being, and Ace enjoyed it greatly. The long days and brief nights did take some time to get used to, but he already felt like he was at home with such a climate.
He was wearing a different outfit by now, consisting of a tank top, jeans and boots. He was becoming used to wearing regular clothing, now that he had retired from the life of a Galactic mercenary.
He stood near the rails of a two storey high balcony, overlooking the view down below of their Star Seeker apartments. Bettilena was down there with a couple of mother verpardesses, helping create a Vaelidian garden in their vast backyard. The majority of the plants were cacti-like, with a few scrubs and flowers here and there. He even spotted Leera walking about through the yard, with a large male maulkat following her trail.
Ace eased to watch in solitude, spotting some verpardi children of both genders playing with one another in the yard. Some were spraying water and chasing each other with the hose. While others threw a ball after one another, shouting and giggling as they played throughout the day. Aster was there too, joining in the fun by allowing them to be their main target in dodge ball.
Ace smirked at the sight. He was warmed to see everybody enjoying themselves again. Soon he was joined by Jake Jetspeed, who was seen to be wearing a colourful tropical themed shirt of some sort, which Ace found to be a bit out of the ordinary for somebody like him.
“Hey Ace, what you up to man? You seem a bit bored hanging around up here!”
“Bored? No, I’m just chilling. That’s all. What about you?”
“Me? Just catching up with people, meeting new faces. Hmm… look what we have over here…”
Jake said, shifting Ace around to view a small group of verpardess to the far off area behind of them. They were looking out towards the pool area, where female verpardi were sitting together, chatting with one another. Jenna and Evanna were there too, with a few other unfamiliar females.
“Man, so many gorgeous ladies to choose from. You’re spoilt for choice, man. You’ll have no problem finding a woman around here!” Jake said, nudging Ace with his elbow.
“Heh, I don’t need to go looking. Especially when she has been here all this time.”
replied Ace, as he peered over at the group; locking his eyes onto a certain brunette verpardess.
“Ehh? What do you mean by that?”
Jake scratched his head in confusion, taking a glance at the group of woman again. He shrugged, not noticing any sort of hint.
“Whatever you say, cuz. As for me, I’m not even sure if have a chance anymore…”
“What about that lady - Evanna? You two seemed to be getting along well…”
“I don’t think she’s really into me. She’s lovely, yes, but she is also a nice young 25 year old. I am 35 for Qwark’s sake!”
“35 is still young for a verpardi you know, I don’t see what the problem is. Especially when you don’t even behave that age, heh.”
Jake voiced loudly, shoving Ace slightly in playful annoyance, which Ace could only cheekily grin at in response. Both their attentions were caught off guard for a moment as another person came to join their space.
Ace immediately noticed her presence and smiled. Right as Jake turned around to notice her there behind him.
“Hey sis, what’s up?” Jake said, looking at Jenna who was standing there in front of him.
“Oh, nothing much. I was just coming by to give you something.”
“Oooh what is it?”
Jenna’s smile spread across her face more as she got out a folded piece of paper from her pocket. Ace eyed her up in curiosity, as well as admiring her appearance at the same time. Jake’s eyes locked onto what she was handing him, and he looked at it whilst it was being unfolded.
“Open it up, you’ll see.”
Jake unfolded the small piece of paper with a wary expression. But once he had seen the contents of it, his eyes widened greatly. Ace’s eyebrow rose when he saw his reaction, and Jenna chuckled.
“…she - Evanna… is - wants to… go out with… me!?!?!”
“Yeah. She likes you Jake, and she would like to get to know you better”
“I… can’t… believe it!”
“Told you so, now go get her, tiger.”
Ace said, greatly amused by Jake’s facial expression. It looked as if Jake was about to faint from shock. Jake slowly waddled away from Ace and Jenna, before punching his fist into the air, shouting,
Jake then realized the scene and immediately got back into a more normal posture. He seriously hoped that none of the verpardi woman nearby had just witnessed that. He hurried off in preparation for the planned date of tonight, very excited by the note he got from Evanna.
Ace and Jenna both laughed at his reaction after he had left the scene. Ace was pleased for him though, seeing as he knew that Jake was longing to find a potential life partner for a while now.
He then turned to face Jenna in front of him. He found it hard not to take note of the summer attire she was wearing; regular Vaelidian clothing which were a strapless top with matching capri jeans. It was different seeing each other in casual clothing, nonetheless he admired it.
“I was wondering where you had wandered off to.” Jenna asked, moving closer to be with him by the railing.
“Sorry, I just needed some fresh air. And to see what everybody else was up to.”
Ace looked out into the vast surroundings of the yard again with various thoughts shrouded his mind but all were good. He was content with how everyone was doing. He could only wonder what the future held for him, now that their days of exploring the universe had ended.
“So, have you really retired?” Jenna asked him.
“From being an intergalactic superhero and mercenary? For sure. Before I know it, I would have missed out on many of life’s opportunities. I’m getting past my age for that whole hero scene, you know.”
“So you thought that you were getting a little too old for that kind of work, Hmm?”
Jenna asked him, grinning cheekily and moving up against him. Ace’s face reddened a bit, when he looked back at her with a smug look.
“Uhh no, not really. I’m just saying that I don’t need to live that life anymore. And besides, there is still another great hero out there, likely to be doing the same kind of missions as I would have.”
“True that, I suppose. Personally, I believe you have already done your part as a superhero. You have accomplished so much after all that you’ve been through, against all those odds.”
“All of us have accomplished something great. And I think we’re going to enjoy life here.”
Ace stared out into the scenery again from where he and Jenna stood.
The Vaelidian suns were both lowering together in unison, readying themselves to disappear over the horizon; they gave off a brilliant glow of colour, highlighting the vast landscape and architecture of their home. Ace watched the other Seekers below, preparing for the coming night. He also saw verpardi citizens coming by to pick up their children, which Betty had been looking after.
He saw the children running towards their fathers and mothers with excitement and it was a sight he thought that he would never see during his lifetime, until he had come to Vaelidius to live. He truly was proud to have saved this planet and its people.
Jenna could only smile blissfully at him, seemingly knowing that he was in good spirits. And she was right; he was in a good state of mind, responding to her with a cheerful look.
Then she asked.
“What do you reckon will happen from now on then, Ace?”
“No idea, really. Anything can occur, even if we have retired from the days of intergalactic adventure. Yet what I do know is that we are now free to do as we desire…”
Ace told her, noticing that her hand was on the railing next to his. He couldn’t resist but to rest his palm over hers. None of the other Seekers knew about their relationship, but the pair didn’t seem to care if they had found out sooner or later.
He was quite right about what he had said; anything could happen from this point onwards. But one thing he knew for sure was that he would not need to go on any superhero missions again. Ace knew well that this galaxy was in good hands, knowing about the other heroes out there in the universe. And with the threat of the karnifex and utori eliminated for good, there was no need for him and the Seekers to be concerned.
Instead, he now had a different kind of future to look forward to. Helping rebuild civilization on Vaelidius was enough to satisfy his desire to help the misfortunate. And seeing families of verpardi living out in the open was something that made it all worthwhile.
He still missed Kurt, as did everybody else in the team. He would never forget him nor the adventures and battles they had all gone into throughout his lifetime. Even so he was tremendously grateful to have made it all this way, to where he is now.
The only thing he had not done yet was to thank a certain lombax for ‘freeing’ him from DreadZone. Even then, he wasn’t quite sure what Ratchet was doing these days. And seeing that so much time had passed since then, he thought that perhaps it didn’t matter if they never crossed paths with one another again.
Ace had changed for the better, to find a sense of purpose. Even if the people of the universe continued to believe that he destroyed Bolden 3, it did not matter anymore. He and the team knew the truth, and that is all that mattered. He wouldn’t be travelling out of the Kavorian galaxy for many years, perhaps not even Vaelidius itself. He was content with staying here at his newfound home.
He had all he desired right here, right now.
Nothing could make it any better than it already was.
He was living a life reborn.
Ratchet & Clank
The two most well-known and widely respected heroes of the universe had their own share of adventure, drama and loss after escaping the horrors of DreadZone.
The dynamic duo had been through much in the five years that followed on from there.
The lombax and robot had recently fought to prevent a great misuse of the Great Clock’s power, something that could have ripped apart the very fabric of the universe itself, but not without the cost of a life.
Ratchet was deeply saddened by the death of Alister Azimuth, a lombax like he was. Alister was a good friend of his father Kaden. He learnt a lot from this lombax about his parents, his people and their history. Despite the fact that this lombax had turned against him near the end, Alister did learn from his error however and so, he ended up sacrificing his life to reverse the Great Clock’s misuse, thus saving the universe.
Ratchet and Clank then were destined to be apart from one another, once the ordeal was over. Clank was now the senior caretaker of the Great Clock.
But Clank could not bear the thought of Ratchet living alone in the universe. He left his duties as the Great Clock’s caretaker and passed them on to Sigmund, his step bother. He left to join Ratchet once again on his quests. Clank would not part from Ratchet, at least until he had found a family of his own.
The Vox Media Empire
After Gleeman Vox’s suicide at the Battledome’s detonation, a large fortune was left behind, one even more expansive than when he had inherited it from a dead relative.
Vox never married anybody, nor had any offspring for that matter. And so, the next heir in line was his nephew, Marcus Vox, a young adult slademan, with a much different outlook on life, and a good taste for entertainment. He was quick to bring back the Vox networks after DreadZone was eliminated.
The Vox Media Empire became a legal source of entertainment, no longer operating in the Shadow Sector of Solana. He sought to spread it across to the Polaris Galaxy, offering many new shows and movies starring celebrities, such as Captain Qwark in “Unicop” and “My Blaster Runs Hot”.
The network didn’t reach the Kavorian Galaxy, much to Ace’s relief.
Dallas & Juanita
Ace had not seen or heard anything about these two for years and he was glad not to have.
After DreadZone ended, the pair was left jobless. And so, they started up their own new reality show depicting their everyday lives.
The pair even had a fake wedding ceremony to attract more viewers, but Juanita didn’t notice that Dallas had swapped the priest with a real one. Causing their marriage to became legitimate.
Every day in each live episode, Juanita would set up death-traps for Dallas, such as bombs, spacebear traps, falling anvils and more - as an act of revenge. Although Dallas miraculously avoided and survived them all, foiling Juanita in every single episode, without noticing anything.
Juanita had no clue that Ace was still alive out there but perhaps it was for the better. She did keep his original visor as a token of his memory though. She still missed him and his sadistic gladiator ways to this very day.
Malvin was one of the most trusted and respected people of Vaelidius, a strong leader of the rebels who had fought alongside them all the way, right until the end of the war.
Once the rest of society was on the surface again, there was a vote to be cast. The Vaelidian people needed a new Chancellor, especially now that civilization was being rebuilt. And he was the one citizen who gained the most votes.
He was eager to lead the planet out of depression and into the light again. He was a people’s person, and would remain the respected Chancellor for years to come. He even allowed other sentient races from nearby devastated planets to gain residency on Vaelidius. To further aid to bringing a stronger and more open society in the Kavorian Galaxy.
He allowed Ace and his team to live in relative peace. Encouraging people to let them live their lives in privacy; not to give them attention like that of high profile celebrities.
The niece of Malvin went on to become an employer at a local woman’s outlet store, not far from the small city where the Seekers resided.
She continued to hang around the team, dating Jake and growing a stronger liking towards him, even realizing they had much more in common than originally thought.
Evanna had long lost interest in going after Ace for some time now. Especially when she already knew that he had his eyes on somebody else, she could see it during that night out in the battlefield of Nyxion city. Even though Jake told her that he was single.
2 months after the war had ended, she moved into the Seeker apartment with Jake Jetspeed and only time could tell of what may happen between the newly formed couple.
Life was brilliant for Jake after things had settled down on planet Vaelidius. Being here again was important to Jake, since that he was raised here until the age of 12.
Over time, he became a well-known local in the nearby city and he eventually introduced the verpardi people to Skyboarding which the younger generation took interest in immediately. Skyboarding would then one day become one of Vaelidius’ main sporting events.
His relationship with Evanna also grew stronger, and one day, she surprised him with some of the best news he had been searching for all his life.
His father was still alive, by the name of Jaeco Fredek. He had survived the karnifex invasion and with Evanna’s efforts to track him down - she had connections with the government, thanks to her uncle - Jake was eventually reunited with his father.
Jake was deeply touched by what she done for him and Jenna. His father remembered him right away and the two spent hours talking with one another, sharing stories of their life after being apart for so long.
And this was the moment when he realized that he would like Evanna to become his ‘life partner’ – a wife if you will.
Betty had a lot going on after settling down with a more laidback lifestyle. She was always moving however; never having a day without activity. She was very fond of babysitting verpi children for their parents as they helped rebuild the cities around them. Betty loved it, being reminded of the times she was raising Ace as a youngster.
She especially couldn’t wait until the day the fellow verpardi seekers had their ‘own’ children…
As more time passed by, the city around them had been fully restored. She now had a chance to fulfil one of her lifelong dreams – opening up her own restaurant.
It was titled “Aunt Betty’s café and bar” and she was proud of it. She worked there every morning and almost every night, catering for the people of Vaelidius and for her own family of course. She even hired Aster to be her personal waiter.
The lone blarg of the Kavorian galaxy sure had a lot going for him in his newfound life. He was treated like any other civilian around here, and he enjoyed it a lot. He was no longer treated like an outlaw, like he was on other planets within the Solana galaxy.
Even youths around Vaelidius trusted him.
He enjoyed life out in the open; even working at Betty’s restaurant was a lot of fun. Meeting new people and sharing stories of his adventures with those who were curious of his origins.
Leera the maulkat was more than happy with the natural habitat around her, rather than the confines of a large spaceship. Blending in with her own species was more than ideal and it was not long until she had found a mate.
He was a large bull maulkat, one of the males whom she fought alongside with during the war for Vaelidius. She appeared to be attracted to his power and loyalty, of which he had shown during the battles they had endured together.
After a few months, they had formed a bond and she eventually gave birth to three little maulkat kits. The rest of the team were delighted by this, and were quick to adopt the new-borns into the family.
She was the first Seeker member to become a parent, oddly enough.
Life was going so well for the verpardess of the team. There was much for her to do: helping out others in need; meeting new people and spending more time with Ace. The pair had set up a youth aid centre in the nearby city to help out troubled verpardi youths after all the stress and horror they had endured. The majority of their lifetimes were spent in hiding from the karnifex and many never got to experience the life of an average child.
Jenna was good with counselling young troubled youths.
Later on, she got to meet her father for the first time in many years. She was only 3 when she last saw him, so she had no memories of him beforehand. And so this was quite a touching moment for her to meet him in person. Especially when she believed that she would never get to see neither of her parents again.
It did take time for her to get used to the idea of meeting her father, but it did bring many answers to the questions she had wondered about all her life.
The passing time brought many changes to Ace’s life here on his newfound home planet.
There was always something to do, each and every day. With Vaelidius rapidly recovering from the karnifex’ damage, he was quick to be inspired on other ways to help people.
The young generation of verpardi caught his attention the most. Many had a very rough childhood, and the majority of them were forced into the army at a young age - to become Vaelidian soldiers.
Now that the planet was free of the turmoil, they were no longer forced into training, but the result left many youths troubled, and so Ace stepped in to try and lend them a helping hand. He set up a Youth aid centre, with the help of Jenna. Distressed youths were sent here to be given aid and support. Ace advised them by giving headstrong speeches, sharing his own experiences with the adolescents, to show them that they still have a chance to change their lives for the better. He firmly stated that there are better things to do in life, rather than to tread down the pathway of a criminal. He helped many youths by what he shared.
And this is when he was lured into becoming a part-time police officer. He didn’t mind the job as it gave him a chance to be more physical again, and to help out more around the city. He also shared a few tricks and skills of his own with the other officers.
The job also reminded him of what Kurt used to be before he became a superhero, and so it was a job that had some significance to him.
Even so, Ace still preferred to spend most time with the team at home. Times had changed and he was enjoying the more laidback lifestyle. He was getting closer to Jenna during the whole time, and found it more and more difficult to hide their relationship as the weeks went by; especially as they began to share one other’s rooms.
Jake would be unhappy when he eventually noticed what was going on; he would not speak to Ace for an entire week.
After a while however, they would all get back onto good terms with one another. Ace was no longer hiding that he and Jenna were together, finding this to be a much better way to live. Bettilena and Aster’s business became a big success, and Leera’s family was doing well. And not to mention, Jake and Evanna were to get married sooner than expected.
Life was fantastic. Ace couldn’t think of any other way to make it better than it already was. Anything was bound to happen, right now and in the upcoming future. He still had many years ahead of him, a lot to look forward to.
Even if he did not know of it.
…Meanwhile along the borders of the Polaris Galaxy…
“Ratchet, I believe we have received an important message.”
“Huh, who is it from? I sure hope it isn’t Qwark having trouble with that War Grok again. I have had it with his stupid mishaps and antics…”
“No it is not Captain Qwark. It appears to be, that this message is from… Ace Hardlight…”
“What, Ace Hardlight? Are you sure? I thought he was in prison. Did he escape recently?”
“Yes, I thought the same. But it appears that this message is not only from him. It is from a group of-“
“Great what does he want? Is he after vengeance? Looking to kill me with a gang, or what? Switch off the holoscreen. We need a break from this ‘supervillain’ business, seriously…”
“Ratchet. He is not after vengeance. Here; let me read it for you.
Ratchet & Clank.
We genuinely hope that this message gets through to you. And if either of you are reading this then please, read on.
This is a message from somebody you may remember from the days of DreadZone, Ace Hardlight. I am writing on behalf of him and the Seven Seekers. The Seven Seekers are a team he is part of, and has been his place after being released from Zordoom Prison a year ago.
He wanted to apologise for the pain and suffering he had caused during your time at DreadZone. We are sorry you lost a friend, due to his actions. But he wanted to let you know that he is grateful for what you did, in defeating him and telling him something very important. You helped him escape the horror. Gave him a new direction in life, and now he is doing well for himself, and for many other lives around us.
We had discovered our lost home world, and saved our people from a certain doom. We hear that you have been on a quest to find your people too; the lombaxes, and their whereabouts. Much like we have managed to accomplish.
We wish you all the best of luck in finding your place in the universe, and your people. Never stop searching, because if I can do it, then so can you.
And so I say thank you. Don’t stop doing what you do best, but when you feel the need to, don’t be afraid to take a break from the whole superhero scene.
Ace & The Seekers
Ratchet was silent throughout the whole speech, finding it a bit hard to believe that Ace would have sent that. Was this some sort of ‘funny’ prank from someone? Even Clank was wary by what he had just read. He went through the message to see where it had originated from.
Ratchet looked over Clank before asking.
“Right, now where did that message come from?”
“I am checking… and it shows that this message has come from somewhere in the Kavorian Galaxy.”
“The Kavorian Galaxy? Never heard of it…”
“It is a vastly unknown area of space, neighbouring the Solana Galaxy. And I believe that this message is legitimate. It even contains his bio signature in the file… a sign of proof that it came directly from him.”
“So he really did change for the better. That is a surprise; I never thought that I would hear from him again.”
Ratchet continued to pilot Aphelion through the depths of space with Clank at his side. The two were travelling back to the Solana galaxy, to take a break from saving the universe and its people.
The young lombax thought about the message all the way. It was a lot to take in, especially from the likes of Ace Hardlight. Last time he had seen him, he was a sinister, feared and sadistic gladiator but somebody pleading for help on the inside, a man trapped in a world of hate and denial.
Yet he was glad to have received this message. Ratchet now knew that he had saved another life from DreadZone, the most unlikely one of the lot. And Ace was doing so well for himself, even after all that happened throughout his life.
This message gave Ratchet a boost in hope to find his own race out there, even if they happened to reside in another dimension. But Ratchet could feel that in due time, he would find them.
If Ace could do it, then he could do the same.
And so this brings an end to the story of a Fallen Star.
Ace was no longer that, but a changed person; a true hero.
A Rising Star.
One to shine upon planet Vaelidius, for many years to come.
Thank you for taking the time to read Ace's story.
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Thank you for taking the time to read Ace's story.