Tides of Darkness

Part three of Trilogy, part 1 = New Age, part 2 = Reign of Chaos

By Sh33p, CultofSh33p@aol.com

Chapter 11

The Fall of Night

The final of this great trilogy. Hope you got airbags, 'cause this is going to be a crashing end. Tim Seltzer, seltzer@seltzerbooks.com

Sh33p Disclaimer: Only crap I own are the original characters, and even then I don`t own five of them in full. Consider this disclaimer valid for the whole story.

Foreword:Soundtrack below.

Scene One: Papa Roach - Last Resort
Scene Two: Linkin Park - Numb
Scene Three: Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
Scene Four: Trans-Siberian Orchesta - Beethoven's Last
Scene Five: Rammstein - Du Hast
Scene Six: Zoids - Zoid Eve's Theme
Scene Seven: Zoids - Any End of the Land
Scene Eight: Rurouni Kenshin - Fallen Grey Angel

Colorblindness was threatening to set in as four quick shots rang through the air, each one deafening in its fury. Almost as if in unison, four of the freakish Molgas became little more than clouds of shrapnel spewing out of orange and red fireballs visible against even the background hellstorm that the fighting still raged in. Without even pausing long enough to register what she had just done though, it seemed as if her very thoughts goaded the mutant Command Wolf into skidding to a sideways halt and snapping its head to the right at the same time that its guns were brought to bear in that direction.

A Raptor, airborn in mid-jump, screeched at her.

A trigger pull later, what was left of it rained harmlessly across the blue Wolf's side. The paint wasn't even scratched.

Left, a pair of voices alerted. In an instant she had followed the warning and jerked the Wolf to the left, ducking at the same time and bringing her guns around as another of the Molgas came in for a ram attempt.

Instead of crashing into her though, its head was sheered off by a glowing golden claw, swiping up even as she rolled the Command Wolf over onto its back, then the right side and straight up to its feet once again.

Triggers pulled back, guns fired and the blue mutant freakshow howled as something resembling a Konig Wolf with saber teeth and an oversized beam rifle on its back stormed into view. Before it had even noticed her, twin bolts of bluish-golden light crashed into its side at hypersonic speeds. Quicker still, the other Wolf had fallen over with a pair of gaping holes at the points of impact, and as it struggled to get back up-

Her claws plunged into the open wounds and punched straight out of the other side, stopping only when they hit the concrete and asphalt that made up the street they were fighting on.

In an instant, the fallen Konig freak was dead. Its movements ceased and its body began to stone over, but by then, she was already searching around for her next target...

It was all happening so fast, but so slow at the same time. She could feel everything as if through some long buried set of senses, and every one of them were as detached from her actual body as they were infused into the very fabric of her mind. In a single second, she felt unbridled joy and incomprehensible rage at the same time. In one second, she was sobbing her eyes out, while at the same time she was laughing to the brink of hyperventillating.

Yet in the midst of it all were two anchoring presences that she couldn't hope to ignore in favor of this new world of sensations. One was literally clinging to her mind, feeding into it and drawing from it in return, and the other?

The other was her mind.

And somewhere in this myriad of chaotic feelings and emotions, these two anchors brought clarity. The clarity that kept her focused in spite of it all, and the clarity-

That allowed her to duck under a mach one switchblade with crucial inches to spare, only to bring the dual beam rifles to bear and shoot down the offending Bladeler before it had even started to swoop up from its pass. Shards of its broken wings rained down into a nearby fire, and the creature itself crashed violently a few seconds later, but by then, she had switched gears again.

The Command Wolf's feet snapped free of the dead Konig freak's stoned corpse, and almost instantly, it was running again. The world became a tunnel and a blur at once, yet her objective remained clear. Up ahead, she could see it: A creature twice the size of almost any other Zoid on the battlefield. It walked with four legs, lashing a sturdy spike-tipped tail in its wake and extending a pair of thick saw-jointed wings out to either side. Its neck was thick, sturdy and powerful, with a dragon's head that bore a pair of devilish horns atop it. It moved unchallenged through a blistering but inaccurate rain of artillery from almost every direction, headed for-

A hole in the South wall...

If she were in any sort of clear state of mind, Leyla Tsun would've likely wondered exactly how it was that she had even ended up in the South sector. Right now though, only her objective mattered.

And that objective wasn't to defend Champton. Not anymore.

It was to kill every Sleeper that she could find.

Without even a battle cry to herald her attack, Leyla guided the Command Wolf into a full-speed run for the Gyl Vader, claws and teeth alike lighting up like fireworks as she closed in...

Lights flickered on and off in almost every direction as he raced through hallways so old that his grandfather hadn't even been in diapers when they were created. His feet were throbbing to the point that it felt like a bone was breaking with every step, and his legs were pumping so quickly that the veins in his thighs felt like they might explode at any second. He was breathing so hard that every gasp for air felt as if it might be his last, and almost with every single stride he took, it felt as if the whole world was rattling from some as yet unseen threat.

Harder and harder though, he kept pushing himself. Even as blood began to leak from his palms due to how tight his hands were curled up, he kept pushing himself.

It felt as if the weight of the world was pressed down on his back, and even though it threatened to paralyze him everytime he actually thought about it, he kept going.

She had asked him if he was running away. To an extent, now that he was actually alone, and now that he was free to face his doubts, he actually realized that he was running away.

He was fleeing the position of King in favor of that of a lowly Knight, and with a bitter sense of amusement, he knew that he wouldn't have it any other way.

Skidding to a halt at long last though, he arrived to a door and almost crashed right into it. While sweat poured down his face, Harry Champ grabbed the knob and twisted it to the point that his wrist started throbbing. After that, he had almost broken the thing off of its hinges while shoving it open-

And then he was there.

Standing inside of the Champ Family Hangar.

The lights had almost entirely flickered out, and it was obvious that as power was being shifted to more and more increasingly vital systems, the hangars were rapidly losing importance. Even more so since there were so few defenders left compared to how many had started out and-

"Can't think about that now," he thought to himself with a huff, head snapping up as he heard something screeching outside. "Something's already gotten past the defenses... No time to waste."

Without even bothering to catch his breath, Harry swung about on one foot and took off running. The pink Iron Kong - the Prozen Knight, as it was jokingly referred to - stood in a corner, untouched by anyone, or anything. Benjamin and Sebastian's Kongs were out in the field somewhere, but there hadn't been anyone with the actual skill to handle Harry's own.

Within seconds, he had reached a ladder to the catwalk above, all but hurling himself onto its rungs as he began to scramble up each one. Every new hold made his hands feel a bit more slippery with his own sweat and blood, and every new lift of his legs made them feel a bit more wobbly. By the time he had finished climbing up to the catwalk, he almost felt as if he would pass out.

And he almost did when the hangar's superbly armored door tore apart and imploded like some kind of freakish tin can. The atmosphere in the hangar itself seemed to become thin, and even as he fought to stand up from his hands and knees, he could feel something pulling him towards the door. Rivots snapped loose, several bars tore from the safety rail and as Harry looked towards the source of it all, he could see a miniature sphere of energy, shifting through every single color of the rainbow for a few seconds...

Then it stopped. All that was left was a chunky looking ball of black alloy, crashing down to the ground and plunging several feet into steel-reinforced concrete before it stopped.

"... That was a fucking gravity cannon!" He blurted out, only to watch a large blue blur flying through the open hangar doorway and crash into a wall with such force that the whole structure trembled. A shockwave passed through the wall itself, knocking away almost a tenth of an inch worth of paint and causing a vaguely canine-shaped imprint at its center, while several of the catwalk's supports snapped loose from the ceiling.

Within seconds, Harry found himself fighting for his grip as the whole damned thing fell half-over and hung by nothing but its left side. One hand clinging to the rail above him and both feet balanced to the bar below were all that kept him from falling to his death as something began to stalk towards the hangar. He could see it as only a shadow at first, standing out in the orange glow of the countless fires raging across the city-

And then the freakish looking Command Wolf that had just been hurled into the hangar began to stand up. Its bent and half-imploded legs literally popped back to normal with a loud sound that Harry could only describe as the crunching of aluminum, and as that happened, the smaller Zoid shook its head as if in a daze.

Before anything else could be seen though, his promise returned in-mind. With that, Harry threw his free hand up and gripped another bar, wincing as he finally realized that he'd actually cut his palms with his fingernails. Gritting his teeth though, he began to stagger forward, one right bar per foot, one left bar per hand. Every step was a challenge, backlit to the noise of a violent skirmish playing out just yards below him, and on almost three different occasions, he came within tenths of an inch of slipping.

Finally though, it came to the worst as the Wolf tried something and the monster it was battling literally headbutted it right up into the ceiling. Scaffolding nearby imploded, the roof shook and numerous remaining supports for the catwalk gave out.

His heart skipped four beats in a row as Harry felt the bars giving out from under him. Within an instant, he went from standing in mid-step to dangling for his life from a now only quarter-hanging catwalk, which itself was slanted towards the ground below.

"Fuck!" Harry blurted out, his left hand clinging to the same bar he'd been trying to hold onto earlier, while his right flailed around with his legs in a frantic, futile bid to find something to hold onto-

Which was when he noticed that the catwalk was grated.

Without even stopping to think, his right hand dug its fingers into the catwalks holes, and inch by inch, Harry began to climb his way up towards a part of the structure that wasn't dangling by a thread.

He had almost succeeded when a fluke shot burned right through the air around him, vaporizing part of the scaffolding and causing the back of his jumpsuit to catch fire. An instant later, it had slammed into the hangar ceiling and detonated, leaving Harry's section of the catwalk to rattle and swing and-

And Harry screamed with pain as the flames began to lick at his skin through the jumpsuit. Without even bothering to consider a plan of action, and with no more fear left in him, the man who had been destined to be King threw himself forward. His feet slammed into one of the remaining bars, his fingers raked across the grates and with a desperate heave, Harry Champ found himself slamming across the level remaining portion of the catwalk, while the rest of it caved in behind him.

But the back of his jumpsuit was starting to catch fire.

"VOICE COMMAND OVERRIDE!" He shouted, uncertain as to whether or not it would work, and not even caring if it did or didn't. Even as he was speaking, he was slinging himself to his feet with the kind of energy given only to the terrified and dying. "COCKPIT OPEN!"

There was the sound of hydraulics gasping as the Iron Kong's head split open, and by then, Harry had started running.

Even as the back of his jumpsuit finally began to give way, Harry threw all caution to the wind and hurled one of his feet up onto the railing. With one last, desperate push, that single leg sent him flying into the air, twisting blindly as he went and-

Crashed all of a second and a half later in the Iron Kong's cockpit, his body all but crashing into the pilot's chair so hard that he felt his spine threatening to jar in six different places. At the same time, Harry had to bite back an agonized scream as the fire on his back was snuffed out against the leather of the seat, baring his teeth to the ceiling and blindly slapping the button to shut the cockpit back up.

The flames were snuffed out though, and even as the pain threatened to make him cry, Harry reached up with one hand and yanked the safety harness down.

With that, the cockpit slid shut and the lights flipped on, leaving every single console to activate in unison as the forward HUD kicked on. As it finished activating, he was confronted with the view of some kind of winged dragon having its right wing sheered off by that insane Command Wolf from before, only to smack the smaller Zoid away and gut it in the same motion with its tail.

Wheezing and feeling on the verge of passing out in shock from pain and exhaustion, Harry Champ brought his hands to the controls and screamed.

It happened in almost slow motion as what was left of the freak-Kong's body fell through the foul air of the battlefield, only to land several seconds later with a loud thud. A severed arm, the head and a leg. It was all that he was going to even allow to continue existing, but by the time his foe had died off, Leon Tauros had found new targets. God only knew there was an endless supply of them.

Shifting numbly about in his seat as if he could somehow coax the Zoid with nothing but his own weight, he guided the Red Blade into a half-turn at full speed, plowing it straight through a pile of debris and crashing into the right side of a group of Raptors. By the end of the pass through their ranks, almost half of them were dead or maimed, and those that remained were caught so off-guard by the attack that they could do little more than stare in awe as their brethren fell by the truck load.

Without even waiting to see the results though, Leon had whipped the Liger back around. Wordlessly, he adjusted for the sparse movements of the few Raptors still in back of the group, then charged forward again. By the end of the next three seconds, another half a dozen souls were freed from their Cores and sent spiraling into the star lit night sky. Even so, alarms were screaming on all sides of the cockpit, and his passenger was starting to gain some spirit as she began to pound at the back of his seat.

Yet all that he could allow himself to focus on was the vicious golden glow that surrounded the Blade Liger. Its shield was whipping about like some kind of insanely large power drill, and beneath it, bolts of lightning were sparking about from blades to extended shield panels and almost anything in between. It was the same technique he had once tried to use in order to defeat the Liger Zero Schneider, and right now, it was the only thing keeping him alive.

A sideways glance and he had spotted his next target, even as Berke's Supercannons thundered in the background and something shrieked nearby. With that though, Leon Tauros brought the Liger into another full-speed run, headed for a currently unsuspecting Daemon, its guns trained on another target all together. Even as the Gojulas it was trading shots with howled its death cry, Leon crashed right into the Daemon's right leg, causing the damaged armor to all but evaporate on impact.

Less than a second later, the actual structure followed suit. After that, as the Liger started to swing wildly into another snapping turn, the side of its drilling-shield rolled into the back of the Daemon's left leg, even as it started to fall. It took almost the exact same amount of time, but the remaining leg vanished in the same way as its missing counterpart, while the falling Sleeper was split in half cleanly before it ever hit the ground. From the base of its tail to its midsection, the creature literally ceased to exist, leaving a vicious red light to spray into the Liger's drill-shield and fly away in every direction at once.

"Get back here!" Berke's voice finally rang over the comm. "I can't cover you if I can't see you!"

"I'm in command here," Leon replied sharply, even as another alarm sounded and felt like it would almost blow out his ear drums.

"Then what are your orders?" Berke demanded. It was obvious that stress was starting to take its toll on everyone, leaving no exceptions and plenty of soon-to-be-grey hairs in its wake... Not to mention just as many dead bodies.

What should have been natural wasn't. At once, even as he began to push the Red Blade forward, Leon Tauros found himself confronted with a beast that was as menacing as the hundreds of bloodthirsty Sleepers running rampant all over the remains of Champton: Indecision. In this position, everything he knew of history said that his boyhood hero, the man that everyone seemed to compare him to, would have sent this last soldier running for his life while fighting to safeguard his retreat. At this point, Berke was only in his way. He had a limited amount of time to use this form of the force shield and couldn't be bothered to protect a slow-moving Gordos while doing it...

But there was nowhere the other pilot could run.

After a few moments, Leon came up with the only answer that made any sense, even if it was a suicide order in everything but name.

"Inflict damage, soldier. Don't worry about anything else."

"It was an honor serving under you, Tauros," Berke replied.

Before Leon could say anything back, the comm clicked off and something exploded in the distance. With a wince, he did what he could to ignore it.

It was in these last few seconds that Leon Tauros realized that all the comparisons were wrong.

Van Fleiheit had been a man possessed of honor and duty. At this point, Leon was a man possessed of duty and honor. Where Van had fought as a lone warrior for justice and freedom, Leon was fighting purely for the survival of others. He had no greater calling, and there wasn't any philosophy in it. All of his talk of potential washed away in less time than it took to flush a toilet, and when it was gone...

He didn't even wonder why he had ever tried following in Fleiheit's footsteps in the first place.

With renewed vigor fuelled purely by desperation, his shoulders hunched forward and his mouth opened in a gaping scream as wild as that of any beast he had ever heard, echoed in part by the very Liger that he was piloting. He never even realized that he was crying as he did it.

The Command Wolf flew by and loose bits rained in its wake as a gigantic hardened alloy fist crashed into the side of the dragon creature's head. Cockpit glass cracked against the blow and the Sleeper shrieked in a mixture of rage and pain, while Harry Champ slammed the same fist down into the hangar floor and squeezed a trigger. In an instant, an armored panel on the Kong's left shoulder flipped open and a hail of rockets spilled out into the air, covering the Vader's head in flame and smoke before it could try to mount a counter attack.

The left wing, and what was left of the right, flapped indignantly as the huge beast staggered sideways, its head dipping out of the smoke as the rocket launcher slapped shut again. A second later, Harry threw his body to the left, dragging the Kong's right arm in his wake and slapping the Vader across the nose while grappling on in the same motion.

"COME ON!" Harry screamed again, heaving the Iron Kong back to the right and socking the Sleeper across the head with another left hook in the process. Bits of armor flew off the beast's head as it struggled, only to have the guns on its neck open fire. In an instant, an entire hangar wall became a foot thinner, leaving the whole place to rattle-

And then the Command Wolf appeared out of nowhere. With agility that went beyond supernatural, it leapt onto the Kong's shoulder and then right off it, the guns on its back pivoted to face the Vader's backpack. Two shots later, the Wolf was barrel rolling onto a wall, landing on all fours upside down only to spring off again and crash-tackle itself onto the Sleeper's neck, claws and teeth glowing and slashing for all they were worth.

Yet even as it was being all but overwhelmed, the beast refused to quit. With one vicious heave of its own, it broke the Kong's grip and stormed into a turn, clotheslining the Wolf with its remaining wing in the process. The pilot, whoever it was, came within feet of having the head severed or the cockpit sliced apart by a buzzsaw blade.

The Prozen Knight staggered away, and Harry kicked on the thruster pack on its back in order to stabilize himself, only to charge forward a second later. The shoulder cannon fired and the ensuing bolt of energy seared into the Vader's chest with the sound of rattling tin foil before the two Zoids were at melee range again and-


Horns crashed into the Kong's chest, the Vader threw its head back with a war cry and Harry went flying right over his target. Several times in mid-air, he flipped forward, only to finally crash down on his Zoid's rear end and roll onto both fists to a stand, then skid to the very edge of the hangar.

Without even batting an eye at something that would've once left him on the verge of throwing up, Harry whipped the Kong to its left and brought the wrist cannons to bear. Thin beams of light sliced a shallow pair of trails into the Vader's backpack an instant later, drawing the huge Zoid's attention even as it swatted the Command Wolf away with its tail.

"COME GET ME!" Harry challenged vehemently.

A second later, the Kong was grabbing the Vader by its horns and struggling to avoid being pushed back, only for both Zoids to be pushed all the way out of the hangar and into full view of everything in the fortress-

Which was when a small blur leapt down out of nowhere and landed almost flawlessly on the Vader's back. Before Harry could even realize it, talons had slammed into place on hardened alloy and a rifle extended completely before-

Shots rang out. An instant later, the Gil Vader had gained a hole in the back of its neck. Another moment ticked by as its remaining wing flapped straight up and smacked the insane seeming Gun Sniper right off of its back, while the guns on its neck opened fire completely.

Damage alarms screeched, Harry kicked on the thrusters and the Kong jumped. With speed and a clumsy sort of agility that it simply shouldn't have been capable of, the huge pink Zoid flipped over the Vader and tried to rip its horns off. Unfortunately for Harry though...


It didn't work out that way.

Rather than lose its horns, the Vader simply clamped its massive claws down into the asphalt and heaved its head forward, literally dragging the flipped Kong back down through the air and slamming it down onto its smoking, heavily damaged chest. Harry sputtered out a string of curses in the process, barely getting his right arm positioned in time to avoid having its cannon ripped off during the fall.

And that was when the Command Wolf, seemingly undamaged, leapt back into the frey again. With a canine agility that Harry's Kong couldn't even dream of, the blue thing all but flew through the air and plunged one of its claws into the back of the Vader's head and-

Harry didn't even wait to see the final results of the attack. Instead, he found two triggers and pulled them. Instantly, the Kong's heavy-duty ballistic missiles fired, only to crash into the Vader's collar and detonate less than three meters from his own Zoid's head.

The world turned white, and Harry Champ couldn't even hear himself screaming.

Lights were flashing all over every console, his ears were starting to hurt and the Red Blade was roaring indignation and pain with every stride it took. A second later though, the sounds of its fury were replaced with the sounds of metal making contact with rapidly flowing energy, then giving way almost instantly. It was almost as if he could hear the bonds between individual particles being torn apart, sending metallic vapor flying in every direction while a newly dead Raptor's soul flew apart in a similar fashion, spraying into the ground and air alike. Wherever it landed, the dirt, asphalt and battered concrete rotted and collapsed by several inches, but by the time it was over, Leon had drawn one hand up from the controls.

With a pace most men couldn't even dream of, he worked the consoles using only one hand, piloting with the other and somehow splitting attention between both as flawlessly as a diamond in the rough. Even as irritation forged its way down his cheeks, his eyes itching and his jaw starting to throb in kind, he had used that one freed hand to divert what little extra power the Liger still had to the task before him. The booster shut out and the shield generators were starting to overload, but without even paying them any mind, he all but danced his fingers across a dozen different buttons and switches, all in different parts of the cockpit and every one so easy to miss that a rookie pilot would've had trouble pulling it off even outside of this situation.

Stabilizers churned, and the stress inflicted on the blades was starting to become apparent by the time that the Liger started moving again, easing back up to its full speed and erasing the front half of a Molga from the face of the planet while doing it.

Yet all the while, with every single breath he took, the wall of numbed focus he had managed to keep in place began to crumble a bit more. Chris Tasker was still in the back seat, and she was still ranting about how they should've gone back to find her sister and...

And piece by piece, Leon felt the weight of the world coming down on his shoulders.

Tunnel vision barely persisted though, and as the Red Blade turned to the side, he could see his next target: A Konig freak.

With speed that most Zoids could only dream of, the Blade Liger surved forward, and Leon felt himself sink back into the seat a bit as the distance closed. Within a second, the Konig had noticed their approach. Within two seconds, it had brought its arsenal to bear. By the third second though, the drilling shield made contact and, in an instant, the Konig all but evaporated. First went the head, then the neck, shoulders and chest. Through it all though, Leon was given a point blank view of a Sleeper's insides, watching with a mix of dread, satisfaction and disgust as the Core came into view and promptly ruptured.

Seconds later, the Blade Liger swung about into a stop as a second Konig leapt into view, its guns blazing as an ear-splitting howl raked through the air-

And then the shield cut out.

Leon bit back a shout as both shield projectors literally blew off of their hinges, reduced to molten shrapnel as a result. Steam and smoke vomited from the top and bottom of the Liger's mane, and the cockpit quickly began to heat up as both blades, already taxed beyond their limits with maintaining the attack for so long, shattered from their tips to the base of each support pylon. Molten alloy rained to the ground as several small explosions tore through the Red Blade's insides, echoed in turn by the blasts from the Konig's beam rifle.

Stumbling forward with a defiant roar of its own, the Liger struggled just to stand. Sparks were spraying out of its leg stabilizers and its mouth was smoking, but the Red Liger just kept going.

The Konig landed on all fours in the middle of a second leap, having turned itself to face Leon in mid-jump as it again brought the rifle to bear-

And took a close range blast to the face from both of the Dual Impact Cannon's barrels. Leon grimaced, squeezing the trigger again while the Konig staggered from the first blow. Nanoseconds later, two more explosions rang out from one of its shoulders, signs that he'd shot it again.

"No blades, no shield, no problem," he managed to half-think with something vaguely akin to a fatalistic smirk. "Let's go, partner!" He shouted, urging the smoking, battle-scarred Liger forward for what felt like the last time. Chris was screaming in the back seat, explosions were sounding everywhere and the Konig was still trying to recover from his surprise attack.

With a desperate leap, the Blade Liger all but belly-flopped onto the Konig freak's back, slamming into its rifle with both front paws and causing the Sleeper to falter onto its side. Rather than stay down though, the beast simply rolled with the crash, flinging the Red Blade right over and into a flip. In an instant, Chris stopped being the only one screaming as the already battered Zoid skidded to a hard stop on its back, with its booster keelhauled right off in the process.

With that, the Konig stood up, took aim and growled.

Before he could even calm down enough to feel shock, it was all over.

For a time, all he could hear was his own ragged breathing, underscored by the occasional groan. Virtually all of the cockpit glass was gone, and the cockpit itself seemed almost as if it had imploded and evaporated in the same instant. His ears were throbbing, he was bleeding in a dozen places and his head felt like it would collapse in a matter of seconds, but as his vision started to clear enough that he could see just how intact he was, Harry Champ couldn't help but chuckle with a certain battle-driven dementia to it.

He had just detonated the equivelent to a miniature nuclear bomb less than ten feet from where he'd been standing and yet he hadn't even lost a finger or toe. He wasn't permanently blinded and he could even hear things with relative clarity, though there was still a loud ringing in his ears.

With that though, Harry pulled a bloody, slightly charred hand up to his safety harness and undid it, only to flop down by about half an inch and come to the rather expectable conclusion that not only had the cockpit gotten a whole lot smaller, one of his legs had also been completely broken.

"Almost humiliated, set on fire, shot repeatedly and blown up all in one night..."

There was a pause.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd think this was a date with Leena," he laughed out raggedly, only to reach out with both hands and slowly yank himself up out of the cockpit through the top of the undoubtedly slagged Iron Kong's head.

He landed as if his body had become a wet noodle, slipping down several inches into ash and dust covered concrete and rebarring. For a few seconds, his eyes remained sealed shut and his breathing was composed of little more than gasps for air, but soon enough, Harry finally took a look around...

And let out an even louder laugh than before.

The firestorm caused by the Prozen Knight's kamikaze manuever had reduced the area to a smoking, brutalized looking crater for almost a hundred yards in every direction. Where there once was asphalt, painted lines and designation lights, now there was only a shallow, burnt out depression, along with the scorched and damaged sides of buildings in almost every direction.

"That was fucking crazy," he commented to himself, all humor literally washing away as he looked around for the other Zoids that had tried to fight, along with the Sleeper that all of them had gone up against.

The Gun Sniper stood nearby, charred almost ash-black all over and barely standing, and further away than that stood the mutant Command Wolf. Its entire body was glowing a neon blue as structure and armor alike repaired themselves, literally growing back into place.

With that, Harry looked back in front of him, only to find that the Sleeper just wasn't there anymore. There were lengthy tracks in the crater's floor, leading from several yards in front of him to what was left of the former Champ Family Hangar, now completely collapsed aside from a few broken looking support beams. All that was left seemed to be a massive pile of rubble, and most of it was completely scorched as well. If the Sleeper was entombed beneath it all, Harry couldn't see.

He also didn't care. As long as the thing was dead, he was fine.

Without even bothering to look any closer, the youngest member of the Champ family reached up to the mutilated head of the Kong and pulling himself up to one foot, the other leg hanging limply beneath him as he looked over to the Wolf and the Sniper.

Harry waved, and both Zoids responded with a exhausted growls.

And then the world went right back to Hell as the pile of debris shattered nearby, leaving stones and steel bars flying in every direction. Harry screamed, only to find that he couldn't even hear his own voice over the sound of the nearby roaring, and he couldn't remain standing either. With that ground shaking beneath his foot, Harry struggled to hold onto the Kong's head, only to let go and slide down the rest of the way into the crater, where he promptly smacked shoulder-first into a rock and felt something else crack.


His left arm quickly started to go numb as Harry threw the right onto the rock, then sat up enough to see the brutalized, demonic looking Sleeper, towering in place with a gaping hole in its collar. Both wings were now missing, as were its horns, but even in its horribly maimed state, the creature simply refused to quit.

Without even casting Harry a look, the Gyl Vader turned towards the Command Wolf and Gun Sniper, then opened fire.

In an instant, the Sniper went down, its entire body simply ripping apart under the asaault, while the Command Wolf skillfully managed to dodge out of the way and start to close in-

Only to meet the Vader's jaws the instant before it could make any sort of attack.

Giant teeth as big as Harry himself clamped down, the Wolf shrieked what would normally be the cry of a command system freeze and then, like so much garbage, it was hurled aside. A few seconds later, the smaller Zoid, its neck already healing, crashed through the wall of another hangar and kept going, though Harry could hear its body grinding to a halt somewhere inside.

Slowly but surely, the battered Vader staggered forward, heaving with each step as it headed for the hangar...

And then coming to a final, vicious halt as a single clawed hand on a tow cable flew into the hole in its collar and grappled onto its very core. An instant Later, Harry could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end as the Vader literally screamed, sounding more like a human than any sort of beast, before its very soul ripped free of the body and spiraled up into the smoke-filled night skies.

With that, the huge monster's body began to stone over, and the clawed hand ripped free. A second later, Harry's eyes had tracked it back to the source...

A Blue Geno Breaker.

Silence permeated the atmosphere and smoke began to slowly gather along with it. Sparks shot out of virtually every console, and alarms gave the sounds of dying off a few seconds later. He was so tense that his jaw was going numb by the time that he opened his eyes, only to find that the cockpit glass was still largely intact aside from a number of large cracks and random bursts of static here and there.

Behind him, he could hear nothing but a muffled cross between laughter and crying, and in front of him, he could only see a quartet of nimble clawed feet planted into the ground - two of them still glowing a pale gold.

Finally, Leon Tauros exhaled for the first time in almost a minute, his right ear and eyebrow both twitching nervously as he looked up to the side, only to find himself staring at a beast he hadn't seen in months.

"The Shadow Fox," he thought in immediate recognition, in spite of the minor changes that had taken place for the other Zoid. "Then..."

"You alive in there?" A voice crackled across the comm, which itself was starting to smoke lightly.

"Mark, that you?" Leon asked back, his jaw still aching from how tightly he'd had it clenched.

"Yeah. Looks like you guys've been throwin' an all-nighter from Hell," Mark answered with a grimly amused tone.

"... Did you come alone?" Leon asked hesitantly.

"... Do you think I'm that stupid?"

"... Well, yeah."

It wasn't over.

The Gyl Vader was dead, the Prozen Knight was lying in ruin at the edge of a violently formed crater, a Gun Sniper was lying all but dead nearby and at least one building had been collapsed into a pile of rubble, but it wasn't over...

"You can come out now," Bill Chapman thought to the murderous intent gnawing at the back of his brain. He had practically followed it through the battlefield to this place, after all. "I know you're not hurt."

"Burn. In. Hell," three voices replied at the same time, though only one was the source of it all.

Bill simply shook his head while the Geno Breaker slowly stepped around, coming to face the location of the voices.

"You're even more messed up than me," Bill pointed out, trying to remain calm against a surge of what felt like someone else's rage. It was almost like standing at the edge of a campfire and knowing that no matter what you did, you were going to have to dive into it face-first. The sensations of fear, anger and regret were almost surreal, not because he felt them at all, but because he knew that they weren't his.

For a few moments, there was no reply whatsoever. Only a building, seething mess that had killing intent stamped all over it.

"What would you know about us?" The voices demanded, just as something monsterous began to slowly step out of whichever hangar the Gyl Vader had thrown it into.

It had changed again though. Bill didn't even need to have seen its former incarnation to know that much. Where before, it had been a lightning fast mutant Command Wolf of some kind, now it was... Something else entirely.

Structure had shifted, and armor now seemed visibly layered and more angular. Stabilizer caps issued a dim humming sound with each and every step, while the Zoid as a whole seemed to have become larger and more feral in appearance. Its former crash-cage had been replaced by a layer of armor that left only a pair of optics visible - one on either side of the face like the eyes of a real wolf. Its claws had gotten longer, its teeth were sharper and its newly formed optics glowed a violent orange, while the rest of its color shifted about like mixing inks in a pool, with the pattern always centered at the forehead.

"... More than you'd think," Bill finally answered, with a slow shake of the head.


Instantly, the freakish looking Konig Wolf brought its rifles to bear, hurling a pair of massive red beams at the Breaker. Bill responded almost a full tenth of a second ahead of time, lurching the Zoid to the side and bringing one of the pincer shields to bear.

There was a sound like thunder through his ears, and Chapman felt the Geno wanting to stagger back from the force of the blasts. The shots had hit his shield almost dead-on, leaving a pair of sizeable burn marks and craters at the point of impact.

"If that's how you wanna play it," Bill finally mumbled out while straightening the Geno Breaker back up.

The Konig's claws sank a few inches into the asphalt, while the eyes of both Zoids brightened for a few moments.

"Let's get this over with."

"DIE!!!" The voices replied in kind, so loudly that he couldn't even hear himself think.

With that though, the Konig hurtled forward and the Geno Breaker launched from the ground as well. Their approaches lasted only fractions of seconds, and as each neared the halfway point, it was the Konig that acted first once again.

With a leap, it left the ground and Bill switched the damaged shield forward once again. An instant later, claws raked across its surface, sending sparks flying everywhere before the Konig went airborn all over again from the strike. With an agility so fluid that a normal Zoid could've never matched it, the creature whipped about in mid-air at the same time that the Breaker did, and almost at once, both Zoids opened fire.

Bill winced as both of the Konig's second beams slammed into the Breaker's chest on either side, while his own hail of gunfire ripped across the freak's collar and head. The damage to both was only minor at best - the Breaker's armor was too heavy to be ripped open by the Konig's guns, and the Konig simply regenerated from the already mild damage that had been dealt to it by the Breaker's own.

The Konig landed with a backwards skid along the ground, edging close to the crater in the process as the Geno came to a grinding halt on its leg boosters alone.

"It's all your fault," the voices growled out accusingly, their tone echoed by the Konig itself.

"I know," Bill replied as apathetically as he could manage.

"Don't you have anything to say to that?!"

There was a pause.

"No. Not really," he answered at last, resisting the urge to shrug.

"What kind of monster are you?!"

"I'm not a monster," he answered again. "Not anymore than you are, at least. The only difference's that I'm not alone now."

"SHUT UP!" The voices demanded again.

"Come and make me," Bill replied with a grim look on his face and a matching tone in his thoughts.

For what felt like an eternity, the Konig seemed to linger in doubt, the colors washing over it in a sea of green, red and blue, each one unable to dominate the other two for more than a few seconds at a time.

And then it launched forward all over again. Bill met the approach with another hail of gunfire, only to watch almost every single shot miss because of how rapid his target was dodging around.

Less than a second ticked by before the shots ceased and Bill reacted pre-emptively once again. Without a word, he guided the Geno into a sidestep while lashing out with one of the pincer shields, only to catch the Konig off guard in mid-air as it came in for an attack. There was a sound not unlike that of a baseball bat scoring a home run before the Wolf went flying again. It corkscrewed sideways through the air for a few seconds before finally crashing down on its back nearby, its left side almost imploded from the impact.

"Why are you doing this?" The voices asked painfully. It was almost like hearing someone speak with gritted teeth after socking them in the gut.

"Because someone has to."


Bill cracked a slightly fatalistic smirk.

"You're right," he admitted. "I don't know why I'm doing it. I just am."


"... Because I choose to. That's the only reason I need," he answered.

With that, the Konig finally stood up, its side literally popping back out as the damage undid itself. Bill turned the Breaker about accordingly, and for a few moments after that, neither Zoid budged even an inch.

And then it happened so quickly that most people would've missed it completely. In almost as little time as it took to blink, the Konig had howled and covered the distance to the Geno, leaping into the air and coming back down with claws and teeth blazing with static not unlike the Berserk Fury's buster claws-


Only to find itself completely impaled in two places at once by the Geno Breaker's undamaged pincer arm, both blades slipping almost effortlessly through layers of armor and structure. With ease, the Breaker held the Konig straight up into the air, blades embedded in its gut as Bill waited for the screaming to stop. Sparks and internal liquids sprayed and leaked around the pincers from the Konig's chest and stomach, and with every serrated inch that the Wolf slipped down, he could hear something sever inside of it.

Finally though, the screaming ground to an exhausted, sobbing halt, and Bill let out a long sigh to accompany it.

"I'm sorry," he said, and meant it. Not to the voices, but to the Zoid itself.

Without another word, Bill slammed the Konig down into the asphalt so harshly that it left a body imprint several feet deep. The Wolf flailed desperately, and the screaming picked up all over again as he deployed the second pincer claw and stabbed it in the opposite side of the stomach and chest at the same time. With that, the Breaker began to pull to either side, literally ripping the Konig Wolf in half until its chest had split open enough to reveal the Core and the small creature currently wrapped around it-

Just before both talon-fingered hands reached out and tore the spherical organ right out of the Wolf's body. With a yelping shriek that made Bill's blood run cold, the creature flailed around in its death throes, even as its body rapidly began to revert back to its original state. The flood-like coloring faded from the armor, it shrank several times in a row and finally stopped moving as excess material snapped off. With that, Bill used one hand to grapple onto the smaller creature and tear it from the Core with yet another series of screams to follow, just before the organ itself shattered in the Breaker's other hand after turning to stone.

The brutalized lump of an Organoid in its left hand seemed to struggle for a few moments and then-

There was a vivid flash of red and black. Whatever had happened to the creature, it was gone now.

"... Why?" Only one voice asked this time, sobbing pathetically. "Why did-"

"It doesn't matter why," Bill answered.

There was another pause as the dead Wolf's head caved in, leaving a battered looking girl in her mid-teens to literally claw her way back up out of the ground.

"Welcome to my world," Bill finally said aloud, staring down at where Leyla Tsun was still struggling to unearth herself.

Without another word, he looked back towards the hole in the fortress walls. It was almost over. The sun would be coming up soon...

It was almost over, but...

"It's still not over yet."

With that, the Geno Breaker's boosters activated again, and Bill Chapman immediately headed back into the frey.

Author's Note: Finally o.o About three weeks later than I'd intended, but oh well. With any luck, the D00m Siege ends next chapter and I can get on to building towards some of the real AHBL >.>

As an aside: Kudos to Phelan for beta-reading this sucker and convincing me that the last scene didn't suck o.o

Kudos also to Leyla, for actually writing easily for once. Little snooty bitch that she is. Bigger-Kudos to Bill for beating the shit out of her XD

And somebody beat Xing Lee with a Complaint Brick. The upload system left errors in here involving bold/italicized text and I'm not sure if I got 'em all or not e.e

And please, somebody stab me before I try and write a Naruto fic ;.;

Sh33p out.

Tides of Darkness by Sh33p

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