Chapter 5: Imprisoned at DreadZone
Various sounds of computers and machinery hummed throughout the facility. The faint sounds of spacecrafts and carriers could also be heard from outside, in the seemly dark void of a space station. Ace lay there on one of the beds inside a containment room of some sort.
Another whole day had passed since he was taken from his spacecraft’s wreckage and it wasn’t long until he would begin to awaken from his deep slumber.
Opening his eyes slowly, he felt very dazed and uncomfortable. His vision was blurred at first, still waking from his deep sleep. With his eyes open, he turned himself over and sat up straight. He looked around at his surroundings and felt quite strange. He also had no idea where he was.
Confused, he stood up straight and walked around the room. Upon first glance, it looked like a basic hotel room. Until he walked outside and noticed that he was in some sort of space station, realizing that this place was not on a planet’s surface whatsoever. He almost felt as if he was in some sort of strange dream, but this was a reality.
Then he felt something strange around his neck, as he tried to turn his head. Grasping onto it with his hand, he found it to be thick, metal and quite uncomfortable.
What… is this thing? Where am I?
He tried to think back to what he did last. It didn’t take long for the memories to come flooding back to him and now he wished they hadn’t. He immediately felt saddened, thinking of what happened last time he was awake. He hung his head low and closed his eyes…
Then suddenly a monitor near him flickered on, startling him and catching his attention.
“About time you show your face, now get to the teleportation pad! There’s no time to stand around sulking all day!”
The voice of Vox shouted, his face appearing on the screen near him. Ace could only stare back in shock.
Who is that guy? He thought.
”Why look so surprised kid? Hurry now, you will be taken to the qualification course to prove your heroes’ worth! And if you do not obey me, then I may just have to show you the hard way…!”
Ace wasn’t sure what to do; besides obey the stranger. He was in no mood to find out what this stranger meant by hard way.
He walked over to a teleportation pad and disappeared as soon as he stood on it.
Reappearing suddenly, he was now in a vastly different part of the station. He looked around at his new surroundings, metal plated walls covered each angle and a mixture of red and yellow lights were flickering. He could also see various platforms and holograms displaying in certain parts of the room.
Ace took a few steps towards another large monitor in the room, expecting it to display the strangers face once again…
“Greetings hero, and welcome to the all-new reality hit show - DreadZone! Be sure to note that you are far beyond the reaches of hope. There will be no rescues, no excuses and absolutely NO possibility of escape. You are now a contestant on my brand new reality holovision show, broadcasted straight across the Shadow sector! A gladiator, fighting for the entertainment of a million screaming fans! Chances are you’ll be dead by tomorrow. But if you play the game with skills and strategy, then you may just earn a chance to win your freedom…”
Ace listened, but was still confused about the whole ordeal.
Who is this guy? Why am I here? Is this some sort of prison? He placed his hand on the collar around his neck again, before attempting to reply…
”Who are you? What is this place, exactly…?”
”You’ll find out later, if you manage to survive the qualification course… heh heh. Enough chit chat for now, the qualification course is about to begin!”
Vox said and the monitor immediately switched off and retracted back into the roof; giving Ace a clear view of the course ahead of him. Robot holograms appeared in various places of the course, with targets displayed on them. Ace assumed that he had to simply shoot at them. So he got out his HL launcher and took aim, shooting at the targets with ease as he ran through the course and leapt on the platforms, taking him into another area of the course.
Still unaware of the whole meaning of DreadZone, he continued to go through the course. Leaping over various platforms to avoid the burning lasers below and fought against several swarms of robotic enemies, ranging from blade-spheres and small fighter bots as they re-spawned from a machine nearby. It was all easy and Ace found the whole idea of this course to almost be some sort of joke.
It only took him a couple minutes to complete it, before another holovision monitor came from the ceiling to greet Ace again.
”Good, good. Now I suppose you are wondering about that collar securely fastened around your neck. It is called a deadlock collar. It cannot be broken or removed. Should you wander into a restricted area or attempt to remove it; the collar will give you an extremely painful shock! Observe this volunteer here…”
Gleeman Vox said, before pointing at another platform over to Ace’s right. Two DreadZone testbots appeared on the platform from above, and they looked in his direction. Both had a deadlock collar around their necks, much like Ace Hardlight’s. One of the robots sighed and turned his back to Ace…
”Somebody please shoot me…”
Ace was blank at the robot’s remark, until it started screaming as it was being electrocuted by a strong surge of blue electricity. Its body slumped to the floor seconds later and was motionless, with smoke smouldering from its head. The second robot next to him didn’t say a thing.
Ace continued to stare at it, surprised at what he just saw. Until Vox started speaking again,
”And if you, or any other contestant becomes uncooperative or even worse, boring… then his or her collar can be detonated at any time with the push of a button!”
Vox held up a remote, to show Ace on his screen before he turned around to stare at the remaining robot. The robot did nothing but stare back at Ace, before its collar suddenly exploded… along with its head.
Ace could only stare back, slightly disturbed. Even though they were only robots, he still could see how dangerous they would be if his own one shocked or exploded.
He headed over to the next teleportation shaft and it took him back to the containment area.
He was somewhat spooked and stunned by what he had to go through as a start of his day. He felt as if he was in a prison, but at the same time, he felt that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ace looked around at his surroundings again and still couldn’t understand what was happening.
Contestant? Gladiator? Reality HV show?
He could only mutter