The Darkness Within

The Truth - Act IV

"The human mind is capable of anything."

-Joseph Conrad

It was over. Divinius was done, and here I was, ready to start all this anew. Now it was time to make that one choice that would solve it all.

But this was strange. I found myself at the bottom of what looked like to be a luxurious hotel, and on an old, worn sign, I could make out the word "Aurora" on it. I looked into the lobby, seeing nothing. I proceeded to walk inside, but I found nothing.

It was a really nice place, to be honest. Everywhere had been decorated with gold, blue and red colors in a vibrant fashion, and an extravagant water fountain was in the middle of the lobby, though obviously not functioning anymore. "Hello?" I called out, in an attempt to get the attention of someone in the vicinity.

But there was no response. I felt weary and tired from the battle, but then something snapped me out of my thoughts. A phone nearby was ringing. I looked around, and found what seemed to be the one that was buzzing. I opened it up, and the caller was listed as 'Me'.

I pressed the green button for 'Accept Call', and put it on speaker. Then a voice that I recognized, the voice from my previous hallucinations and moments of insanity spoke softly over the phone. And this time, I could recognize the voice.

It was Akron.

"Hello there Jay," He said in a strangely calm and relaxed tone. "It's been a while. Why don't you come on up?" And then a soft 'ping' went off behind me. I turned around and saw the door to an elevator open slowly, and I walked over to it. My walk was visibly changing now, as weariness and my wounds settling in as I slowly walked onwards, inside the elevator, and instinctually pressed the top button on the display.

As the elevator began to ascend, the phone buzzed again. "Well Jay, you've done what no one else could. You've single-handedly killed two gods and ended the world." Akron's tone was still strangely relaxed and calm, though it was clear that he was mocking me now. "Do you feel like a hero now?" That sentence hit me like a brick in the stomach. I didn't. I really didn't feel like a hero.

Then came the soft 'ping', signaling that I was at the top floor. "Please, come on in," Akron asked politely, and I slowly limped out of the elevator, finding myself to be in a lavish penthouse with fake wooden floor, modern, sleek interior design, and a near see-through staircase leading up.

"So, Jay, I have a question," Akron suddenly piped in. "What did you think when you saw what I did? When I first took over and made you watch?" Akron questioned, his tone calm and unchanging. I replied with my haggered and tired voice, "I thought you were insane," I said straight up. I could hear Akron take a deep breath. "Yes. Well… I wasn't that lucky." He then said, confusing me for a second. "You sure about that?" I questioned, and Akron chuckled lowly for a second. "I assure you Jay, I'm as sane as you are."

That was a strange answer. But I continued, I limped up the staircase and found myself in what appeared to be a small zen garden. Across from me, stood a large canvas, and a figure that was almost identical to me stood in front of it, painting on it with all sorts of colors. As I limped through the small garden, I began to hear Akron talking. "… No matter what I did, in the end I had to realize that this story was about you, not me," Akron muttered half to me, half to himself as he continued to paint on the canvas.

"There," Akron suddenly said, stepping back from the canvas, "All done." He said, casting aside the painting brush and stepping further back from the painting. "I hope you like it," Akron said with an honest smile on his face as he turned towards me. "What the hell is going on here?" I muttered, confusion only getting worse. "Your eyes are opening for the first time," Akron said into the air, stepping further back from the painting, and meeting my eyes, even though his were concealed beneath white bandages. "It hurts, doesn't it?" He said. I was speechless. I didn't know what to make of it.

"Go on," He said, gesturing to the painting. "What do you think?" He said, urging me to give it a closer look, and so I did. It was a painting of me, eyes closed, spreading my arms out over a burning New Domino. Fire and lighting was falling from my hands, and the small figures of people were being blown aside by it, as the torrent of destruction rained down upon the city, and all kinds of bad memories came surging back. "You did this," I muttered.

"No. You did," Akron said easily, looking right at me, speaking so smoothly. "Your decision to continue killed over nine million innocent people." Akron said simply, as he was walking closer to the edge of the painting, and then turned towards to me. "Someone has to pay for what you did, Jay." He said, as he walked behind the painting. "Who's it gonna be?"

I limped forwards, looking behind the painting, but Akron wasn't there. I turned around, and there I saw him. Sitting there in a revolving chair facing the city outside, leaning back, and a gun in his hand. "Akron," I muttered towards him, "Is that you?"

"You tell me," Akron replied smoothly, and I felt frustration and anger welling up again, but my weariness and wounds prevented me from any major outburst. "I'm done with you and your stories, Akron," I said in a frustrated voice, gritting my teeth. "I assure you, this is no story." Akron replied smoothly. I pondered over his words for a moment, before continuing to limp towards him.

The smooth, tiled floor felt endless as I trudged towards Akron's chair, constantly fighting the urge to fall to my knees and die. I was so tired, but I kept on walking, limping and slowly approaching him. Then came the moment when I was right behind the chair, and I grabbed the spine of the chair and forced it to spin around.

And I came face-to-face with the dead form of Akron. He was me, only with the bandages, but decayed, rotten and very, very dead. My eyes became the size of plates, and I fell to my knees. I turned my head up momentarily, and came to eye with the simple gun that was in Akron's limp hand. I slowly plucked the weapon out of his hand, and got back to my feet.

"It seems that your heroic... journey... has been greatly exaggerated." Akron said as he walked up beside me, only this time, he wasn't wearing any bandages, and looked exactly like me. "This is impossible," I muttered at the new form of Akron, and he shook his head. "Oh I assure you, it is."

"How?" I muttered in confusion, not knowing anything about what was going on. "Not how," Akron replied, momentarily looking at his own corpse. "-but why?" Akron continued, and his face turned into a dark expression. "You were never meant to be here."

"You escaped because you accepted my offer. Without it, the Engine would have killed you. But I offered you a way out, and you accepted it."

I didn't believe this. "What happened here was out of my control," I muttered, trying desperately to explain all this. "Was it?" Akron said accusingly, "None of this would have happened if you had just stopped," Akron spat spitefully, "But ooon you marched, and for what?" Akron said, a grim and hateful expression crossing his face, and I took a step back. "I- I tried to save them," I muttered in reply. "You're no savior," Akron growled. "Your talents lie elsewhere."

I flashed back to the hospital, back to Sector Security, to Sayer, to Lance, to Kroe… all of them.

"This isn't my fault!" I pleaded, my voice becoming haggered as I tried to explain, tried to justify what I had done, but no words came. "It takes a strong man to deny what's right in front of him," Akron replied smoothly. "-And if the truth is undeniable, you create your own."

I remembered when I first met Anna. She was out to kill me, to take my powers, wasn't she? I recalled what happened, but now nothing in my memory made sense.

"42? Is that you?" She said in a worried tone, while I quickly got up from the ground. "Oh I'm so sorry, I thought you were about to attack me, and-" Her talking was interrupted when I lunged at her, and she barely got out of the way. I was snarling like an animal. "You..." I said. "You're with those who did this to me! You're not escaping!"

And then I activated my Duel Disk, and forced hers to activate as well. "But, 42! Listen to me! I'm here to help!"

But I didn't listen. And I killed her. I ground her against the asphalt and crushed her body.

"But-but she was-" I muttered, horrified at my actions. "Tha-that can't be true..."

Then the moment Lance, Snow and Blaze attacked me in the penthouse. When I dueled Lance, and he defeated me soundly, took Akiza and killed Leo...

"-Don't make me do this, Alkain," Lance said exasperatedly as Star Eater hovered in front of me and Supernova Dragon, ready to crush me at a moment's notice.

"Please don't make me do this, Jay. I don't want any more blood on my hands. Just surrender. Just let us take Akiza. I promise that you'll have her back." Lance was pleading with me, begging me to surrender.

"You..." I snarled. "YOU LIAR! YOU LIE! YOU'LL KILL US!" I roared, "Akron is right, I should have known you would come for me!"

"Then you leave me no choice, Alkain. I'm sorry." And then Star Eater attacked, sending me flying across the ruined penthouse. Leo went out of his mind and attacked Lance, but Star Eater retaliated and accidentally killed him. Luna became almost petrified with fear, and ran away when Sector Security came after Lance and co. had left with Akiza, as she knew what would happen if her powers were discovered.

"No, no I was-" I said, not being able to form words at all. "I was- was protecting them..."

The refugee camp... Luna had rushed to help me after I demolished the factory, killing dozens of civilians hiding inside it. And as retribution for me destroying the factory, they... they hung her.

I tried to save her... but I couldn't. And so I avenged her, tore the remaining refugees apart.

"N-no..." I muttered, not believing what I saw.

Then I remembered the moment when I met Kroe for the first time by the Engine. I walked up to him and grabbed him by the throat, and began to walk towards the edge, and I looked him in the eyes.

"We're so close, Alkain. The signal can stop all the fighting. That's all I have been trying to do, Jay. Trying to help.

I'd beg for my life, but... you look like you've already made your mind up."

And then I hurled him into the depths below.

"This... this can't be..."

And then I remembered the concrete facility, to the image of small child me and child Akiza talking through the crack in the wall, then Akiza vanished. She had never been there. She never was there.

They... they had been trying to help. They were just helping everybody and I... I killed them...

"The truth is Jay, that you're here because you wanted to be something you're not…" Akron said, and then breathed in. "…a hero."

"You left us to die!"

"I'm here because you can't accept what you've done," Akron explained slowly, and I felt my world break apart. "It broke you."

"There were nine million people alive in New Domino the day you woke up. How many are alive today?"

"You needed someone to blame," Akron said, as I felt my knees buckle and solitary tears roll down my cheeks. "So you cast it on me," Akron spoke, as he turned around and walked into the shadows. "A figment of your imagination." Was this… was this true?

Then I found myself in front of a big mirror. In front of me, stood Akron as my reflection. His dark, angry look turned sad and empathetic. "I know the truth is hard to hear Jay, but it's time," He said calmly, as I felt my soul, spirit and mind break. "You're all that's left, and we can't live this lie forever." And with that, he pulled out his gun, and pointed it at my head.

"I'm going to count to five, then I'm pulling the trigger," Akron said, cracking his neck and slowly adjusting his aim. "You're not real," I muttered desperately, "This is all in my head," I pleaded, trying to get myself to see clearly. "Are you sure?" Akron questioned, "Maybe it's in mine. One."

Then I felt all my anger return. My frustration, my pain all back at once. "No, everything," I said under my breath, as my voice turned into an angry snarl. "All this, it was your fault!" I angrily roared, pointing the gun at Akron. Akron wasn't fazed. "If that's what you believe, then shoot me! Two!"

Then I felt tears roll. I never meant for any of this to happen. "I… I didn't mean to hurt anybody," I said, my voice no longer angry, but like the voice of a sad, miserable child. "No one ever does, Jay." Akron replied calmly. "Three."

I felt my grip on the gun weaken, my vision becoming blurry as the reality of the situation began to sink in. This was all my fault. "Four," I heard Akron exclaim lowly in front of me. "Is this really what you want, Jay?" Then I gripped hard on the gun.

And then I pressed it against my temple. My tears were running free and I was close to sobbing. I closed my eyes, and my finger grazed the trigger. The metal was cold and unyielding, as I had been. "So be it," Akron said solemnly. "Five!"


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