He couldn't even remember who had asked him the first time. That question. It was a long time ago. It had been a man, of that he was certain. A friend? Maybe. Not like he would be a friend anymore. None of them understood. Had they lived, none of them would ever have tried to understand either.

But they still asked that question. As though by knowing it on their deathbeds, they could understand him. Sometimes they had asked it in voices full of fear. Sometimes there were tones of hurt and betrayal. Sometimes it was just a reflex. Like cattle going in for the slaughter, looking up at the herdsman they had lived with all their lives, trusting him to protect them, and realizing in one instant that all along, he had a higher plan for them. That for the good of the rest of the world, they were to die.

So almost every sky knight he had defeated, murdered, slaughtered, maimed… right down to the last one, they asked him.


What a pompous question. And how self righteous of those towheaded, 'honor' bound cretins, holding themselves up to their rigid and outdated code even as he tore them apart. Who were they to judge? Who were they to look upon him with such disdain when he alone realized the true fate of any resistance?

The rest of the so called free world looked upon him as a taint. A thing that slithered off into the shadows after taking away something sacred. An evil man, bent on evil acts, striving to throw the balance that the 'good' and 'honorable' council had achieved.

Those twits never deserved the freedom he could have offered.

Soon, he stopped offering the choice. They would never understand what he now knew to be true. They were forever shackled to their ways, like a denizen of the wastelands, living beneath the clouds, never bothering to simply look up. Never to see what life truly offered.

Well, one day, he did look up . He saw the clouds above him part, and when they did, such a terrible and glorious future awaited, with the potential to be either grand or dire, depending on how he played his cards. He saw the one thing that he had yearned for his entire life, never knowing quite what it was that he missed. But he knew he missed it in any case.

He saw freedom. Freedom from these imbeciles who imposed bloody ancient rules from a bygone time. Freedom from the bureaucracy of a government grown far too corrupt beneath its shiny outer shell. The freedom to choose his path. To really choose, rather than be given the illusion of choice by a select group of men who dictated the lives of the most elite fighters of the world.

With that freedom came a sort of primal resurgence in his blood. It was like an oiled wick put to flame and once he had a taste of it; it was forever imbedded into his sense of self. He loved the power that he gained from being the top of the game and the best of the best; of being the only one of his class. He relished in his ability to hold himself that high, standing on his own two feet and knowing that he got to the top based on ability and merit alone.

Some may call him a traitor, but in his eyes, the true traitors were the ones who rejected that which called to them in their most natural state. How could you start giving over freedoms that you were born with, that no man could take away?

The answer was easy. They wanted safety. So for a little bit of that illusion of being free from harm, they gladly handed over the reigns to their own lives to the greedy fingers of the few who managed to gain a foothold in society.

Who were they to judge him?

Cyclonia… his new home. Perhaps, from the outside, it looked more like a prison than a liberation, but here in Cyclonia, you were given the chance to claw your way out of any situation. A slave might one day slay its master. A soldier might one day distinguish himself from the rest. It was brutal here. It was harsh. But the brutality was out in the open where it could be seen and not cloaked behind pretty buildings and false smiles. The people were not evil. They simply knew how life worked. The strong survived. The weak fell over the side. There was no reason to prop people up if they would not pull their weight. It was natural selection at work.

Life was too short to be wasted on the useless.

He pondered over the question again as he rode out, leading his current crew of Cyclonian Talons on their next raid. He never bothered to remember the names of those under his command. If they survived longer than a week, he might find it in him to recognize their faces. But mostly, they didn't. They would wash out or die, sometimes both. Sometimes they couldn't handle life in Cyclonia or her army. Sometimes they would run away or save him the trouble of hunting the turncoats down by taking their own lives. It was all about the freedom. Some people, he supposed, couldn't handle the possibilities.

But the Dark Ace?

He was the embodiment of freedom. Who else living on this miserable world had broken his chains so freely, so cleanly? Who else would have given all that he had to attain that which he desired above all else? Who else could have grasped his life with both hands, no longer waiting for destiny to get around to him, but shaping it with his own will?

The answer was clear: no one.

His master-the only person he allowed to count herself over him-had shown him the beckoning, shining destiny that she had been planning from her coronation day. He was captivated by her rhetoric and her ideals. No because she had something to sell. He wouldn't go for clever words and catchphrases. No, she offered something far more valuable, more dark.


It was not the sunny, hopeful idealist that once may have caught his attention. No, that was long ago and a world away, lying in the dust with the bones of the dead. It was her plain, feral passion to forging a new world that captured his interest. The Dark Ace had found a cause in this new life that had been so elusive merely a few short years before.

And still, after all this time, he remembered the looks in the many eyes of the people he had defeated when they asked him that simple question, as though by entreating him to explain himself, they might save his soul.

They didn't understand. He had saved himself a long, long time ago.

The battle was easy, this time. It always was, for him. The men might suffer casualties, but the leader, the Dark Ace, never faltered. If you die, you deserved your death. When you survive…

Well, when you survive, you are still free.

Another set of angry, betrayed eyes. Another self righteous zealot trying to draw his courage in the face of a superior, stronger opponent.

"Why?" the nameless sky knight asked.

"My answer is simple," the dark hero replied, his cultured voice amused.

Bloody red light flared as it came down in a roaring arc.

"For freedom."


I decided to take a quick break from my Finn fic to bust this out. It felt interesting. I think it does alright and gives a new twist as to why the Dark Ace is the way he is.

What do you think?