Aftermath of the Battle

“Zack . . . is a . . . hacker?” Weston gasped.

Even Madison stared in shock at Zack, as Sky stepped over to the desk, helping Zack sit up. “He's just like . . . Garrett . . .”

“Yeah,” said Sky. “He's another hacker. Which was why I wanted to look for a new computer for him. Zack would be of some help in the Synchron Organization's work. And I was hoping to have him work on the Reflection program, too.”

"Why'd you accept their threat anyway?" Madison demanded. "And - if Zack's saved us - there shouldn't be a reason to, right?"

"I have a feeling they'll still exploit Gladiators even if we beat them," said Sky with a frown. "Not with the Dragon Knight there, I have to accept it."

"The Dragon Knight?" said Weston, startled.

"You mentioned that the Dragon Knight is the only Core Gladiator able to choose whether to destroy Gladiators or to protect it," Zack huffed. "You remember? That's true. I'm guessing Sky accepted because with the Dragon Knight there, Euphoria has an advantage of destroying us. And Synchron, for that matter."

"That's correct," said Sky. "The Dragon Knight . . . I don't know the extent of Sawyer Axelrod's skills, but having watched him brawl against Astrid, I see his level defies his true skills. With him in Euphoria . . . he will be a threat. And it's worth being cautious, isn't it?

"That's Sky's style of battle," Astrid scoffed. “You can rest now, Zack. You've done much to stop the first part. I'll reprogram the protection of the Synchron Organization.”

“You can do that?” Zack asked. “Hey, in the first place, were you able to – Astrid, your hair's turned blue! It's completely blue!”

Astrid looked at the strands of her hair, and her eyes widened at it.

“Maaadiiisonnn!” she yelped.

“I don't think there's anything you can do about your hair, now that its morphed, Astrid,” said Madison, startled as she noticed and took a closer look.

“Morphed? Her hair morphed?” said Weston, startled. “I've never seen blue hair-”

“Don't look at it!” Astrid yelled.

Weston flinched. “Yes, ma'am!”

“Why's your hair turned blue?” asked Zack.

“I said, don't look at it! I'll mend the protection program of the Core and the Synchron Organization, so you guys can go. Nowww!!” She pulled the hat down more over her head, looking away.

Sky sighed. “You two get patched up and rest. I'll take things over.”

“Weren't you sick? Are you okay?” asked Zack. “And I'm fine, actually. Just that my arms are sore because I typed out the codes to cut Blackray's chains on Synchron at a faster speed that I'm used to. I just barely made it through, which I'm glad for.”

Sky smiled, then rubbed his forehead. “I feel a little better. The Dragon Knight just brought back some back memories, and an old fetish for destruction that I once managed to control. You can leave. I'll take care of things, and it's my job.”

“Okay, one more question,” said Zack, suddenly curious. “Say, Sky, Madison, you guys know Annika Heaton, who's Garrett's sister, right?”

“Um, yeah,” said Madison. “Actually, she was supposed to be the chief programmer here, not me. I took over when she died a few years ago.”

“Yeah, so . . . you should know who the final Core Gladiator is, right?” said Zack.

“What? You do?” Weston stared. “Hey, if you're not letting anyone know, it's not fair!”

Sky and Madison glanced at each other.

“Sorry, we're forbidden to say the Whisperer's name,” said Madison, looking at Zack with a cheerful smile.

“Wait, you already knew who it is?” demanded Zack. “Sky!”

“No, we can't,” said Sky with an expressionless face. “Only the Whisperer will tell you what it thinks about the situation. After all, I have to report to that person and tell it that you and the Dragon Knight are enemies.”

“Don't pull a pokerface on me! I wanna know who it is! - and don't call that person an it! The Whisperer's a person, and at least say whether that person is a girl or a guy!”

“I'm sorry, but the Whisperer will tell you once it is ready, so wait,” laughed Madison.

Even Weston stiffled a laugh.

“You guys!” Zack protested.

“Now, then, off you go. Zack, clean yourself up,” said Sky, still with a pokerface.

“You can't even tell me? Who decided that? The Whisperer?”

“Have you asked how Garrett found out the previous Whisperer?” said Sky. “If not, ask.”

Zack stepped out, and Weston went with him. And then frowned once the doors closed behind them.

Catching the frown, Weston raised his eyebrows. “What's wrong?”

“Ughhh . . . just realized that I forgot to ask Astrid if she actually knew how to counter a hacker's attacks on the building,” said Zack.

“You wanna go back in?”

“No, thanks. I'll go find the nearest clinic.”

The End

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