We were back at the peak of the mountain when Thomas fully awoke.
"Ahh!" He half shouted as he sprung up from the snow, gasping.
"Thomas!" I thrust myself next to him, but Myron pulled me back, and Jericho pulled a blade out. "Hey, what are you doing!" I struggled in Myron's big arms.
"Tell me who you are," Jericho aimed the blade at his neck. I willed the die to appear in my hands but it failed me at that moment.
"Wait," Thomas said. "My name is Thomas Exter, assigned to the Lionhearts."
Alaric and Myron sneered at the name.
"A... a Lionheart?" I whispered. He nodded in my direction to acknowledge my presence.
"What's a Lionheart doing here?" Jericho pressed the blade against his neck, and I could see Thomas flinch back with sweat on him and splurts of flame emitting from his body.
Thomas pushed the blade away. "Please take this away. It's no use, I can melt it before it pierces my skin." Jericho sighed and sheathed the blade. Thomas looked into my direction. "You guys are all in danger," he said, and Jericho was the one flinching this time. I sensed something wrong. "The Lionhearts plan to exterminate each and every one of the prisoners."
"What the hell?" Alfonso folded his arms and stepped closer.
"Explain," Steph stepped next to Alfonso.
"I was sent as a Lionheart recruit to Elysium right after the assessments," Thomas said. "I overheard Admiral Shiro saying something about an inside man and exterminating the prisoners." Jericho seemed nervous and uncomfortable about it. My suspicion was on. "Then I got notice that my best friend was sent to the prison," he continued, eyeing me. I nodded my head. "So I snuck into here. It's surprisingly easy to get in."
"And you got captured by Simon," I added.
"You fool," Jericho commented. Thomas glared right into him.
"This inside man..." Steph stepped closer with curiosity.
"He's not worth our time," Jericho said. That was something strange, even for an eccentric and eclectic man like him. "We leave," he turned and started walking.
"Jericho Bane!" Thomas shouted, with intensity in his eyes of the likes I have never seen. "You're the traitor of the prisoners!"
Jericho turned around and unsheathed his blade with anger I would be horrified to be subjected to. "Deceiver!" he shouted and charged forward. Thomas stood up from the snow and flames spew out of his body as he braced for impact. He charged. The blade and flames crossed over each other, unwilling to succumb to the other, as they flew across the grounds and battled. I stood by the sides, astounded by the speed and force of the battle, my legs trembling.
"Thomas..." I whispered. "Enough!" I stood in between them, one hand holding the blade, one hand holding Thomas' arm.
"Jericho..." Alfonso stepped forward, trembling with fear in his eyes. "Is what this man said true...?"
Jericho sneered and threw the sheathe on the ground. He looked down at the ground. We were all staring at him. Then, he began to laugh. A laugh that filled the skies and he clutched his face like a madman. "5 years!" He cackled. "5 years, you have all placed your trust in me!" Steph fell to her knees, her glasses falling. "War is coming. You will all perish in the name of the Lionhearts!" he laughed, and ran towards the cliff.
"No!" Alfonso shouted, scrambling after him. Jericho took a leap, and jumped off the cliff, into the abyss that laid below.
"Wh... what the hell?!" Alaric shouted with more emotion I have ever seen. "Screw all this..." he punched the snow and stormed away.
"I don't understand what's going on," Myron the gentle giant spoke. "Leave a message at the Dragon Stone if you need us," he advised, which Steph nodded her head, and sniffled, her face full of tears.
Alfonso was the one most in tragedy. He was the one who trusted Jericho the most, who saw him like a father, spoke of him with reverence, and only just learnt he was a traitor.
I walked over to Thomas. "It's so good to see you, buddy," I smiled, and he smiled back, as I lent him a hand and he stood up from the snow.
"I think your friends need more help than I do," Thomas raised his eyebrows and relaxed his body.
"Come on," I said to Steph and lifted her up by the arms. She cradled in my chest and weeped. I looked to Alfonso, who was staring down at the abyss below with a look I could not begin to describe.
I handed Steph over to Thomas and walked over to Alfonso.
"Alfa..." I called gently.
He sniffled a bit and wiped at his eyes, swallowing down gasps of sadness. "No." Melancholly filled the area. "We're going to find Jericho and bring him down. He's a traitor." I didn't touch him. It would only have made it worse. He had given up hope. The light in his life was gone. He was dying. I looked away, biting my lips.
"Hey..." Thomas tapped my shoulders.
I shook my head. "Why did Jericho want to break out of here if..." I hesitated at the words in my head. "If he wanted to terminate us?"
"I looked into the Lionheart databases. They weren't that heavily protected. I found out everything I need to know on there," Thomas said, folding his arms. "He can't terminate all of you by himself. He does intend to break open the prison. From the outside."
"But why?" I muttered.
"You were the last to come into this prison," Thomas looked me. "After you, they've locked the gates so nobody else can go in, and stationed powered runes all around the base."
"What do the runes do?" I asked with a horrible idea in mind.
"It nullifies the prisoner's powers," Thomas closed his eyes and looked as if he were in shame. "When the prisoners lose their powers, they'll be defenseless. That's when the Steel Forces and Lionhearts come into play... They will kill all of you then."
"Why not just barge in and kill us all?" I asked.
"The prisoners know the terrain better than the outside does. It could very well turn against them. They'd have better chances outside."
"How long do we have left?" Steph muttered behind us in between sobs and words. Although she didn't seem to be affected too heavily by the broken trust, she was evidently upset.
"Midnight," Thomas said. "Midnight is when you're all supposed to die."
"We have twelve hours before midnight," Alfonso brushed himself off the ground and looked at us with hollow eyes.
"I think I have a plan," I said, facing them. They focused their eyes on me.
"Are you sure about this?" Steph asked with a wavering voice.
"Yes, I am," I said as I stood above the Dark Accelerator. "Start it up," I confirmed, and Steph tapped away, flipping on switches. Alfonso and Thomas stood next to her. The accelerator flashed up and I could see the indication on the sides - 73%. It had barely changed. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
"You could die in there," Thomas warned with care.
"It's the only way," I said, and got ready to do something even Jericho couldn't think of.
"Ready when you are," Steph called out.
I looked into the pit, I raised, my arms, gave one last look at my friends, and jumped into the accelerator.
The darknes hit me fast. My head instantly started throbbing and pain began to consume me. I tried to shout, but the darkness was like water. It took away the air in my body. I began to gag. I couldn't breathe. I was going to die. I started panicking, but I heard people above shouting. Thomas? I thought. I calmed down. I froze my body, and sank deeper into the darkness inside the accelerator. I felt the evilness of it, completely engulfing me. No... I might engulf it.
I opened my eyes with a shock, and I felt insurmountable energy rising in me. I spread my arms. The darkness began to surge throughout my body. I was... absorbing it. Yes! I thought. It's working! The darkness came gallon by gallon, and I could feel my power only rise higher and higher.
Minutes passed... Hours... How long had it been? How long did I have left? I didn't know. All I knew was I was powerful... I felt like an atomic bomb, ready to blast at anything. And then... nothing.
I opened my eyes. I looked around me. The tank was empty, with only traces of the manifested darkness lurking in small corners of the accelerator.
"Gin!" I heard Thomas' voice from above. I did it. I absorbed all the darkness. I breathed in and out, but all I could feel was the amount of energy pulsing through me. I jumped out of the accelerator in one go. I felt like I'd just done marathon swimming - tired but powerful. Alfonso, Thomas, and Steph were all looking at me with their mouths open.
"What happened?" I raised an eyebrow. Alfonso disappeared and reappeared with a mirror.
"You happened," Alfonso said, as I observed myself in the mirror. My hair was... white. My sclera was completely dark... almost frightening, and my pupils were white. The major difference was my body... I was completely buffed. I was at least a foot taller than I was, and muscles protruded everywhere. The clothes I was wearing almost didn't fit.
"It's 11:00 PM," Steph suddenly shouted , and they snapped back from their hazes.
"Let's continue with the plan," I urged.
"Go get Giovanni," Steph called out to Alfonso, and he disappeared immediately.
"Holy Moses..." Thomas stared.
"I bet I can beat you in arm wrestling now," I chuckled to him. He chuckled back and punched me in the chest playfully.
"Just happy you ain't dead," he threw his arms up.
Alfonso returned with someone who looked Italian. He looked kind, but his body was comparable to that of Myron's. I probably looked like a child next to him.
"Giovanni, fly him and Alfonso to the center of the prison, and as high up as you can. Fast," Steph commanded.
Giovanni nodded his head and put his hand on my shoulder. "Do you have insurance?" he joked. I laughed. He looked me dead in the eye.
The next thing I knew, I was five hundred feet above the ground, flying in the air, screaming at the top of my lungs. Giovanni only chuckled as if it were a joke. So he can fly. Alfonso looked pretty much as terrified as I was.
I looked up at the sky. The moon was rising... we were running out of time. We flew at a remarkable speed to the center. I could see the walls of the prison from where I was. It was a huge prison. So far, so good. The plan was going well. Suddenly, we stopped.
"We are here, boss," Giovanni informed me. I overlooked the treehouse that was below me. So this is the center huh?
"Fly me as high as you can, then drop me."
"Are you sure, bos-"
"Come on, we're running out of time!" I pleaded, and he shot upwards.
"11:56..." Alfonso muttered. We shot upwards, and my breath was deprived quickly. Then, Giovanni stopped. I nodded to him, and he nodded, bidding his farewell. Then, he dropped me. I watched as Alfonso teleported himself and Giovanni somewhere else. I was in freefall.
"You have two minutes in freefall," Steph said through my earpiece. I shut it off.
The air was hitting against my skin, so gracefully and powerfully. I closed my eyes. This is my chance. This is how to unleash the power of the Dark Accelerator at 100%. My eyes shot open as the darkness started to seep out of me. I remembered everything everyone has taught me about the darkness. I reached down into is, easier than I had against P.S.Y.C.H.O., and I felt the darkness inside me.
"AAAARGH!" I screamed as I condensed all the darkness into a point at my finger. I howled in pain as every droplet of darkness centered at that one point. The darkness from the accelerator, added with the density of the darkness inside me, would become 100%.
I struggled and sweated as I focused everything on that one little point. If I so much as to touch it, I would die from the overwhelmingness immediately.
It was done. My body felt so free and relaxed. Every drop of dark energy was centered on that one spot on the tip of my index. I felt the other four powers activate within my body like it was natural, and I willed the point of darkness to fly upwards.
"Go to hell, Lionhearts!" I shouted as I watched history unfold. It was as if I was witnessing the Big Bang. The point of darkness flew upwards, and exploded in a veneer of darkness and nothingness. The explosion spread in a flat ring across the entire night sky, and flew towards the walls and the barrier itself. I watched for a moment while still in my freefall the darkness pushing against the force of the barrier, and the barrier struggling to contain it. Then... the darkness consumed the barrier. We were free. That's when I hit the ground. Or rather, I made the ground hit me, and I forced the impact back into the ground with vector manipulation. I created a crater in which I crawled out of. I saw feet.
"That was goddamned awesome," Alfonso and Thomas exclaimed in unison. I wonder what the chances were they were related too.
"You know, your white hair isn't too bad. And your eyes, they're dope." Alfonso commented.
"Take us to Steph," I said, and Alfonso put his hand in the middle of us. Thomas, Giovanni, and I all put our hands on top of Alfonso's. He looked at us, grinned, and we teleported.
We landed right next to the walls. There was Steph. And behind Steph, the entire force of the prisoners.
"Ladies and gentlemen," I shouted. "Today we are free." I concluded. They all cheered in ecstasy of happiness and freedom. The strongest of the pack, the metal manipulators and enhanced bodies stepped forwards. I felt a shiver in my body from the excitement as they all put their hands on the metal as they screamed and the metal started to bend. The body enhancers slipped their hands in between the gates and pushed them open with all their force. It happened quickly, it happened with a bang. The dust was immeasurable.
"You briefed them on what they'd see after they get out," I said to Steph and Thomas. They nodded their heads.
"Let the war begin," I whispered.