The Darkness Within

The Factory - Act II

"What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The smell of smoke covers up all other smells in the area as my eyes finally opened. The visions from before periodically assaulted my mind and vision as I stumbled to my feet. Rust Town was basically just one large crater, with several burned lines from where the seal had been.

"Men like us; we never get back the things we love." Blaze's dying words repeated as a vision of Akiza flashed through my mind. The darkness, the anger and wrath faded, and I went back to normal with horns and everything.

Night had fallen, and an eerie silence had spread across the district. There were no sounds of dueling, fighting or shouting. It had all gone silent. I stood alone in the crater that remained of Rust Town, the crater that served as a monument to the carnage that had occurred here.

Blaze's eyes and voice had seemed strangely… different than I had expected. He was fierce and riled up in the Duel, but the moment he lost, his determination turned into regret, and his bravery turned into melancholy. And those words he said, those words he spoke with his dying breath before all his power was taken from him and given to me, those words carved their way into my soul like a red-hot knife.

But something else sprung to my mind. Blaze mentioned a Doctor Kroe before our Duel began. Kroe… Kroe. I recognized that name. The document, the article, the visions, I remembered! He was the old man who found me on the streets, he promised me food, and then… then he took me to that research facility.

"Please… make it stop!" I heard a voice scream. It was slightly softer and smoother than my voice, but it felt so familiar. It was my voice; my voice when I was younger. The pain they put me through, the pain Chessary put me through… it was terrible! It felt like my soul was being torn apart by darkness, and replaced by void. It… it hurt so much!

"AAAAAAGHH!" I heard myself scream again as I remembered once again the agony from that machine they put me inside. That glass sphere, the electricity, I remembered what that was too! It… it was the Dracomorphic engine! That machine they used young people, children, that machine they used ME as a component for!

"HE'S BREAKING FREE!" I heard a voice yell again, and then I heard glass breaking. I remembered that, too. It… it was when Akron took over. I remembered his laughter, his demonic, gleeful laughter as he went amok in the facility, and sparked a rebellion against the scientists. The children broke free, and took vengeance on those who tormented them.

I was out cold by then. The amount of power Akron used to run crazy was too much for my weakened mind to handle, and I passed out completely. He must have really exhausted me, and it might have had something to do with my amnesia, too. My weak state must have not been able to handle the mental stress, and likely damaged my mind.

Now, a lot of things made sense. Kroe… Kroe was behind all this. Somehow, he was pulling the strings behind what they called "Project Akron", and he must be pulling the strings behind all this, too. He ordered Lance to take Akiza…

The moment I remembered Lance, his shrouded face showed itself in my mind, too. But I still remembered his glowing eyes, and his psychopathic grin… I saw his Star Eater form as well, and how it absolutely crushed me and Supernova Dragon, even after I had powered it up to 4000 ATK.

He effortlessly predicted every move I would make, and even turned them to his advantage. His strength was unreal; ruthless and absolutely dangerous. I was likely going to run into him again, but this time, I had to be ready. But how? How can I be ready to face someone who completely destroyed me last time with just a flick of his wrist?

I didn't know how, but I had to. I had to gather all my strength, so I could save Akiza! With renewed resolve, I leaped out of the crater, and up onto one of the ruined containers that lay strewn about after the Duel. In the distance, I saw the factory, still lit up by the external lights. But from here, I could see people, likely guards, walking around the place.

I decided to take the walking approach; it would likely attract less attention than just charging right in Disk-first. I began walking through the ruined factory district as a light drizzle began to fall, and the feeling of cold rain washed over my body, and my bandage-less face.

Thunder clapped overhead, the booming sound echoed through the empty factories and rustled the old, rusted hanging tools that had been left to rot by those they used to belong to. I could almost imagine the factories full of life, with people working their hardest to try and earn money to support their families.

There really is something very eerie about abandoned old factories. You can't really put your finger on it, but I think it is about the sheer absence of life in a place where life should be abundant. People should be running around, talking, joking and working. Now it was just shrouded in silence.

I breathed in as I approached the factory, now being only a minute or two away. I decided to try and formulate a way in, and so I leaped up to the top of a disused factory hall, and began looking around to see what the factory was like.

I squinted my eyes at the factory, and immediately noticed something strange about it. It was surrounded by what seemed to be camps, pieces of fabric strung up to act as cover from the wind, toppled wagons, trucks and containers to act as living areas.

This was a refugee camp. Full of people, and psychics. I could already sense them, feel the emnity of psychic energy in the air, and hear infighting and squabbling, though I could also see psychics walking around the factory and the boundaries of the camp like guards.

After a closer look, I could recognize some of the people walking guard around the factory. I had seen their faces back when I was in the Arcadia Movement. I put two and two together, and finally got it. Their guards were psychics, and their Duel Disks were meant as weapons.

I saw a nearby building that edged almost right up to the fence that surrounded the factory courtyard. I silently glided over to it, and quickly formulated a way inside. Just sneak around the buildings and avoid the guards, then I would be in in no time at all.

I jumped down, and immediately hopped behind a small building to avoid a guard as he walked right past me. He walked slightly awkwardly, and he had an empty look on his face. There was no chatter around here among the guards here though, they were all deadly silent.

That confused me. Were they under strict orders not to talk? Even if so, a few would likely be talking with each other while on their guard duty. This didn't make any sense, were they being influenced somehow?

After some patient skulking and sneaking, I finally managed to get inside the factory. I was inside a large factory hall, but it was empty. Even more strangely, when I looked outside, there was almost no guards out.

My instincts kicked right in immediately after. This was a trap. And after a slight whine from a starting-up speaker, my suspicion had been right. I had been lured inside here. Then, a strange melody began playing on the speakers, like a piece of stock radio music. I dismissed it as just some sort of broadcast, but then a voice started speaking over the speakers. A voice I could recognize immediately.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Neo Domino Radio, hosted by your very own Lance Eclair! Tonight's program, we've got a hilarious story about a Jay Alkain, who thinks we haven't seen him coming!" Lance laughed loudly right after that, and I growled lowly. The bastard…

"We'll talk with him in due time, but now, we have a guest in the studio to make a request for what song to play, and tonight, we have the lovely Akiza in the studio! So Akiza, what would you like us to play?" My eyes immediately became as wide as saucers as soon as he mentioned Akiza, and I immediately looked around for a way out that would lead me towards them. I was about to rush when I heard an all-too familiar voice. Her voice.

"Jay?! Jay, please! Help me!" She pleaded, her voice on the verge of breaking.

"Sorry, that's not in the lineup." Lance laughed, and I heard the sound of a fist hitting a chin, and I immediately connected the dots. THE BASTARD!

"Now Jay, allow me to talk to you directly," Lance began tauntingly. "I've got Akiza here, and I'm getting really tired waiting for you to sneak your way in here, and I so happen to have a neat little device that allows me to command out subordinates just the way I'd like," Lance said without even flinching.

"So here's how this works. Either you present yourself in front of me in ten seconds," Lance began as I already felt Akron seeping into my brain. I tried to keep him out while focusing on what Lance was saying, but then he finished his sentence. "-Or there will be a fire sale on your girlfriend. Your ten seconds start now."

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