Chapter 17:

The Leader

The Garden Of Dreams

In the year 2050, a boy was born in LW-11, to Hannah and Anthony Carter. He was named Thomas Carter. 

Much like everyone else living in the Lower Wards, Anthony and Hannah were very poor. 
Hannah was a housewife and Anthony worked as a sweeper in a factory. 

Later, due to the popularization of androids and humanoids, Anthony was fired and replaced by a SW-04(an android made especially for cleaning purposes). 

Their conditions became even worse and they didn't even have enough money to buy food. 

Anthony made a few bucks here and there by gambling and betting, but he often lost and was beaten up because he couldn't pay his dues.
Anthony used to be a nice guy, but something changed him. After losing his job, he became short tempered and prideful. He would do whatever he wanted to and never cared for either Hannah or Thomas. He would often come home drunk and beat Thomas for no apparent reason. And if Hannah tried to stop him, he would beat her too.

"This is all you and your son's fault." He would often say this to Hannah while beating her. 
He really did blame Thomas for losing his job because he had lost his job right on the day Thomas was born. From that day onwards, their conditions only went downhill. He blamed Hannah too, for giving birth to a "charm of misfortune". 

But Hannah loved Thomas more than anything and she always protected him from his father. she didn't consider him a "charm of misfortune", she never blamed him for anything that happened in their life. 

Thomas was born very different from others, he had burn-like marks all over his face. They hurt a lot and often bled. This made his life harder than it already was.  

No one talked to him, and no one wanted to be friends with him, the kids in his neighborhood were scared of him. They called him "Burnt Face" for fun. Even his own father was disgusted by his face. 

The only person who could even bare to look at his face was his mother. 

Thomas had never looked at himself in the mirror until he had turned 8. When he did, he couldn't stand the sight of himself. Rather than accepting it, he was disgusted by himself. All that hate had broken his spirit and he couldn't bring himself to accept his own face. He started hating himself. 
When he was 9, he bought a mask for himself. It had taken him more than one year to collect money for one simple mask. 
He wore the mask to hide his face and rarely took it off. He hoped that his father would accept him and that he would make some friends if he did this. He had started believing that his face was the reason behind all his suffering, so he chose to cover it.

But nothing changed, he tried to make new friends but no one accepted him. His father didn't stop beating him, instead he called him a coward for hiding who he really was.

Thomas was just a kid and couldn't understand why he had to go through any of this. He had no understanding of the world. He could never fit in. 

One day, Anthony came home all beat up. His face was swollen and he couldn't even stand on his feet. 

"Anthony! What the hell happened?" Hannah kept on asking but Anthony didn't say anything. 

The next day, when he woke up, he shouted, "Where the hell is that brat?"

"What happened?" asked Hannah.

He didn't answer, but he was very furious. He pushed Hannah aside and rushed out of his room. Hannah followed him.
Thomas was playing by himself just outside their house.  Anthony went there. 

Thomas saw his father walking towards him with a twisted look on his face. "What's wrong dad?" he asked. 

Anthony took off his mask and punched him in the face. 
Thomas fell down, he had never been hit so hard before. He fainted with just one punch. 

"What's the matter with you?" Hannah shouted. 

"Shut up! Shut up or I'll f*cking kill you!" Anthony shouted at Hannah. 

He lifted Thomas up and was about to punch him again. But before he could do so, Hannah grabbed his hand.

"He's just a kid! Stop it!" She screamed while crying. 

He pushed her, and she fell down. He then dragged both of them in the house. 
He left Thomas alone but he kept beating Hannah, without an end. Hannah screamed, but no one could have helped her. 

When he was finally done, he went out of the house. Hannah was in a very bad state. He had hit her so much that she couldn't even move. But she somehow did. She went to Thomas to check if he was alright. 

Thomas opened his eyes and looked at the terrible state his mother was in. He started crying and hugged her.

"Mom, what happened to you?" 

"It's alright son, I'll be okay."

"Did dad do this to you?"

Hannah didn't say anything. 

"Are you gonna be okay mom?" 

"Yes, don't you worry about me. I'll be perfectly fine in no time. What about you? Does it hurt anywhere?"

"No, it doesn't hurt anywhere, I'm fine."

"Always take care of yourself son. I won't always be here to protect you."

"Yes, I'll take care mom. One day, I'll become strong enough to protect you too."

"I'll be waiting for that day." she said to Thomas with a smile on her face, and then kissed him on his forehead.

Hannah gave Thomas some left over biscuits and put him to bed. There was nothing for her to eat in the house. She drank some water and laid down on her bed. 

When Thomas woke up in the morning, his dad wasn't home and he couldn't find his mom. He went to her bedroom and saw her lying on the bed.

"Mom, wake up, I'm hungry. Please make me something to eat, mom!" He called out to her many times but she didn't wake up. 

"Mom, wake up mom!" He started crying, he was afraid that something might have happened to her.


Thomas kept on shouting and weeping, but she didn't wake up. 

A police patrol car was passing by, and one of the officers heard him. 

"Hey, you hear that?" 

"No, what?"

"Some kid is screaming."

"He must be playing."

"That doesn't sound like he's playing. I'm gonna check it out."

"Fine do whatever you want to." 

The cop got out of the car and slowly walked inside the house. He followed the scream and he was led to the room where Hannah was lying and Thomas was crying beside her. 

"Hey kid, what happened? Why are you crying?"

"Mom isn't waking up. She isn't answering me."

The cop checked her pulse, there was barely any.

"What happened to her officer?"

The cop tried to put it as lightly as he could. 

"She's just unconscious kid, she's gonna be alright." he said. 

He called another unit along with an ambulance, they took her to the hospital. She was saved just in time. She was barely hanging in and any delay would have resulted in her death. But she had fallen into a state of coma. 

The cops questioned Thomas and he told them that his father had done this to her mom. The cops searched for him but couldn't find him. 

Thomas was told about her mother's condition. As expected, he didn't take it well. He was broken. 

"She was the only one who truly loved me and now she's in this state. It's all because of father! I won't ever forgive him." he thought to himself. 

Since her father was missing and there was no one else left to take care of him, he was put in an orphanage temporarily. 

The orphanage wasn't good but his life was better than before. At the very least, he had a nice bed to sleep on and he got food three times a day. 
But he wasn't able to make any friends here either and he always kept his mask on. 

In the past year, there had been no news of his father getting arrested. Thomas knew that he was still out there. He wanted to avenge his mother, he wanted to punish his father for what he had done to his mother. 

So, one day at the orphanage, he snuck out and started looking for his father. He had saved his pocket money and he bought a knife with. Getting such things in the Lower Ward wasn't a tough task, any local shopkeeper could give you a knife sharp enough to kill someone if you had enough money. 

He didn't know where to look for his father, so he just went to his old house. The house was locked but one of the windows had been broken. 
Thomas went inside, it seemed as if someone was still living there. There was left over food on the floor and a very dim lamp turned on. 
He heard the sound of the flush from the washroom and immediately hid behind the couch. 

A man came out of the washroom, his face wasn't visible before but as he came closer to the light, he became completely visible. 

Thomas was shocked, it was his father.

"What is he doing here? How is he not arrested yet?" He thought to himself. 

Thomas has started searching for his father with the intention to kill him. When he actually saw him, his rage grew stronger but he was still a little afraid. 

As soon as Anthony turned, facing his back towards Thomas, he sneaked behind him with the knife in his hand and stabbed him in the back. 
Anthony shouted in pain as he immediately turned back.

"You brat! What did you f*cking do?" He shouted.

"This is for mom!"

The knife hadn't gone much deep, so Anthony took it out and threw it away. 

"You'll regret doing this!" he shouted.

He punched Thomas and then kicked him in the gut. This was enough to take a Thomas down, he was just a kid after-all. 

"You thought you could hurt me, huh? You're nothing! You're weak! You'll never be as strong as me! If you were even a bit stronger, then your mother wouldn't be in such a condition."

"Shut up! It's all your fault!"

"No it's not...It's all your fault kid, if she didn't have to save your weak-a*s every time, then she would still be well."

"No, you're the one responsible for her suffering."

"If you weren't so weak, then I would have accepted you. But since you were a kid, I knew you were a coward. The weak never survive in this world kid, only the strong do. I despise weaklings like you."

"Shut up! shut up! shut up! I'll kill you. I'll never forgive you for what you did to mom."

Anthony lifted him up by his collar and threw him near the window. 

"Get the f*ck out of here right now, or I'll bloody kill you!"

Thomas jumped out of the window and ran towards the orphanage. He couldn't even walk straight because he was hurt very bad. 

The guard at the orphanage saw him and asked him what happened, but before Thomas could say anything he fell on the ground and fainted . 

Next day when he woke up, his injuries had healed a bit and he wasn't feeling pain anymore because he had been given some medicine by the orphanage's caretaker. 
He was given a good scolding but he refused to tell anyone what had happened. 

Anthony's words had made a great impact on him, he couldn't get them out of his mind. 
He slowly started basing his beliefs around those words. This incident completely changed him. 

With no apparent sign of when his mom was going to wake up, Thomas was put up for adoption. When he turned 11, a couple from the neighboring Higher ward, Nodax, had decided to adopt him. 

A few days before moving to the higher ward with his new parents, Thomas went to meet his mother. But this wasn't the Thomas that his mom loved, he had changed. 

His mom was admitted at a very cheap hospital with no security and no cameras. 
He went inside her room to her. 

"How are you mom?" he knew that she couldn't reply but he still asked. 

"I really miss you." he said, his eyes had become teary. 

"I am sorry mom, I couldn't do anything for you. I couldn't even beat father. I am very sorry."

"But he was right mom, he was right. It's all our fault, we were too weak to do anything. Weak people don't survive in this world mom, and we're both very weak."

"I know it doesn't sound right, but that is the truth mom. Father did this to you because you were weak."

"But it's alright mom, I will save you from your suffering. You don't have to live like this anymore."

He picked up a pillow from her bed.

"It's alright mom, let me do this for you. Even if you wake up, you won't be able to in this world, because you're very weak."

He started suffocating her with the pillow.

"I'll rid you of your suffering mom."

"I'm doing you a favor mom."

"You were very weak to survive mom."

"I promise to get stronger and punish father for what he did to you"

He kept on repeating these lines as he suffocated her to death. 
The monitor showing her hear-rate started beeping, she had died. Rather, she had been killed by her own son.

"You're welcome mom. I'll always remember you." Thomas had started crying, not because he thought that he did something wrong, but because he regretted that he couldn't rid his mom of this suffering before. 

A nurse rushed in.

"What happened kid?" She asked Thomas when she saw him crying.

"My mom, is she going to be okay?"

The nurse looked at the monitor. She didn't know how to tell a kid that his mother had died.

"I'm sorry kid, but she's not in this world anymore."

Thomas acted as if he was unaware of how his mother had died. 
A funeral was held for his mom and the next day, he moved to Nodax.

His new parents were very rich. They got his face treated by the best doctor available. His face was almost completely healed, but he still had some pock marks here and there. He don't want to have his face treated but he was forced to do so.

Thomas was very intelligent and became very good at studies even though he had never attended a school in the Lower ward. 

He even started boxing so that he could become stronger. After years of hard work and training, he fought and won many championships.  

He completed his graduation from one of the bet universities in the world, Nodax science University. After his graduation, he became a scientist at "The Global Ministry of Science and Technology."

His beliefs and ideals hadn't changed even one bit over the years. But he led a pretty normal life.
At 29, he got married and had a kid when he was 31. His wife had died of a cardiac arrest shortly after giving birth to their kid. She had named their kid Joseph before her death. 
Joseph was born with many disabilities. He didn't have his right leg and he also didn't have his left arm. He couldn't survive without additional oxygen support and he was too weak to even walk. 
The doctors had told Thomas that his son would have to spend his whole life on a hospital bed. 

Thomas couldn't accept. For someone who had grown to hate weaklings, how could he accept a son with these disabilities? 
But slowly over time, Thomas grew affectionate towards Joseph, after all he was his own son. 

When Thomas was working at The Global Ministry of Science and Technology, he came across the Garden of Dreams for the very first time. He researched more and more about this and started taking more interest in the topic. 
He made his life's goal to find and conquer the Garden of Dreams so that he could achieve his one true goal. 

 Thomas hated weak people, he simply couldn't stand them. But who were actually "weak" in Thomas's perspective? He believed that the people who couldn't defend themselves, who couldn't stand up for themselves, and who couldn't take pain and suffering were "weak".

He aspired to live in  world free of weak people. He dreamt of a world where only those existed who were actually strong. He believed that if he got rid of all the weak people from this world, he would do them a favor and rid them of their suffering. He wasn't ready to fight for them instead he believed that they were the problem.

"Why should one fight for the people who aren't ready to fight for themselves?"

At 32, he moved back to the lower ward and started getting involved in illegal businesses. He slowly made a name for himself and gathered support. With loyal and trustable members, he started his own chain of illegal businesses. He started gaining more and more power day by day. 

They day finally arrived when he had become very powerful, power enough to declare his war against the government. He formed his own criminal organization, The COUNCIL and took over much of the crime in the city. 

Thomas hid every thing about him and came to be known as "The Leader" among the members/some non-members. But he never stopped wearing his mask, cause it reminded him about his past.

In 2085, the COUNCIL's first experiment of The Garden of Dreams began. 

The leader wanted power from the Garden of Dreams. He wanted to the change the world on his own will, hence he desired that power. 

The COUNCIL only grew stronger over the years. 

What happened at the exchange...?

The leader had to leave because Joseph's condition was very bad. Hence he made Artur the in charge of the exchange. 

When the leader got to joseph, his condition had improved a bit, and he was out of danger. But when he heard that the exchange had failed, he couldn't control his anger. 

He blamed Joseph for this failure, Thomas had become the man hated, he had become just like his father. 

"If only you weren't so weak, I would've never failed." Joseph couldn't understand his father but he smiled and looked at him. 

"It's not your fault...It's not mine either...But I can't see you like this. It aches my heart."

"How can I change the world if I'm a hypocrite myself. How can I erase the weak when I cannot even erase you son?"

"I'm sorry, I'm's not your fault, you were born this way. But don't worry, I'll end your suffering, you don't have to live like this. This isn't living anyways. I'll free you from this joke of a life..."

"It's alright, you can trust your father."

Thomas pulled the oxygen supply's plug, without which Joseph couldn't survive. 

Thomas held his son's hand, crying, as he slowly died. 

Thomas wasn't Thomas anymore, he wasn't the sweet little child his mom loved, he had turned into a monster called "The Leader."