Weston yelped as the electricity crackled, coming too close to him. It could have struck him if he touched it, and it even scorched the sleeves of his jacket, but it was definitely stronger than his own lightning.
“Zack, can you stand?” called a familiar voice as a figure appeared and approached in Sawyer's direction.
Down the hole, Zack sat up, then struggled to his feet with not much of a problem. Galadhar lay not far from him, and he picked it up and reverted it back to a key. Then he walked away from the hole.
“Zack?” said Astrid, looking down – just as Zack shot past her and landed onto the floor beside her on the edge of the hole.
Despite using much of his strength to probably boost himself up with his Gladiator powers, he was gasping for air.
Then he noticed that Sawyer was knelting on the ground, breathing hard, too.
“Sorry, I got disarmed,” Zack gasped. “Well, it wasn't even fair.”
“I'd agree.” Sawyer's voice was calm, but shaky, not from fear or anything, but from shock.
“Yo, we finally meet, Dragon Knight” laughed a voice, and Mikey appeared, swinging his sword widely. “I didn't think you were the cause of Sky feeling nostalgically ill.”
“Sky . . . is sick?” Zack gasped. “Is he okay?”
“Actually, I think he'll be fine,” said Mikey. “Once this new Dragon Knight stops swinging his wild aura around and calms down. After all, Sky's got a fraction of the Cryptogram that the Dragon Knight must always carry, since one of his predecessors used to harbor a dark ambition and created a so-called computer virus that infects humans through Gladiators, so that the future Dragon Knights can continue pursuing his goal. Since its been years since Sky's avatar, Lunar, got loaded with that virus, he's gotten pretty weak to it, and I feel sorry he's got to deal with a lot of trouble while recognizing it now.”
“But – will he be fine?” asked Zack.
“It's your brother, you dolt, he will be fine,” said Mikey. “Besides, like I said, it's just a nostalgic memory that's messing him up by way of this Dragon Knight's aura. If this Dragon Knight was not here, he'll get better n a while, he won't have to feel like crushing the whole building, I mean, I can feel his aura right now. By the way, there's a door I left open. A secret emergency stairway that not even a hacker will be able to look for. I'll take on this guy while you continue on.”
“Okay, thanks,” said Zack, as Astrid helped him up. Weston ran after them and led them to a door that had been left open.
Weston scowled. No one would have noticed it, if it didn't blend into the walls so well. They ran in.
Mikey turned back to Sawyer. “Sorry about that, did it hurt badly? I mean, I suppose you're still not on par with Rune, seeing as you're young, but I didn't think Rune's the sort of guy to give his powers to anyone, either. ”
Sawyer got back to his feet. “Michael Cross.”
“So you know me?” said Mikey.
“Do not be sarcastic,” said Sawyer. “But I suppose that is your nature.” He raised his sword.
Mikey smiled. “Okay, let's Gladiate.” He attacked Sawyer, who braced himself, gripped his sword.
* * *
“Wait a minute, was Mikey a Gladiator, even before?” Zack demanded, turning to the other two as they sprinted up the stairs to the last floors towards the fifty-third where Sky's office would be.
“Yep!” said Astrid with a smile.
“I didn't know that!” said Weston.
“Guess his full name!” said Astrid.
Weston started, then frowned. “Wait, I didn't even know his full name. I only know him as Mikey.”
“I gave him my full name, and he didn't either,” said Zack.
“Michael Cross,” said Astrid. “He's Garrett Heaton's cousin, and a Rank Gladiator.”
As if to answer them, there was a blast of thunder from below them, and they felt electricity brush upwards.
"A Rank Gladiator?" Weston demanded.
“My hair's standing on end, that guy!” said Zack.
“It's nothing compared to him scorching my jacket!” said Weston. "You know how much this cost?"
“That's why he's even got two nicknames from people who are his fans from back when Garrett was too famous in Gladiators,” said Astrid. “One nickname was the Lightning Blade by his fans, the other was Lightning Freak, by people who feel terrorized by his power. Like Garrett.”
“That second name was funny,” said Zack.
Another wave of electricity brushed up them.
“Terrorize? He's freaking charging this place up, he's enough to power everything here!” Weston yelled.
“True, that,” said Astrid.
“And by the way, Astrid, I just noticed,” said Zack. “Did your hair turn darker?”
Astrid shone a torch downwards on her head.
Streaks of blue were replacing her blonde hair.