Tides of Darkness

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

By Sh33p, CultofSh33p@aol.com

Chapter 12

A Late Dilivery From Avalon

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: Witch Hunter Robin - Flame
Scene Two: E.S. Posthumus - Nara
Scene Three: Finger Eleven - One Thing
Scene Four: .hackSIGN - A Stray Child
Scene Five: Sarah McLachlan - I Will Remember You
Scene Six: Gundam SEED - Wheel of Destiny
Scene Seven: Staind - So Far Way 

It was the morning twilight. Smoke filled the skies and the ground looked like a hellish warzone that was going to leave scars in the ground for decades - maybe even centuries. While the fighting had died down enough that it was possible to hear oneself thinking, gunshots and the sounds of sheering metal or explosions could be heard in every direction even now. While piles of debris lay scattered about on all sides, it was obvious that beyond them, the battle still raged.

"This is your last chance, if you wanna go back and wait," he offered somewhat hesitantly. "It's not like anyone's making you-"

"Shut up and drive, Kyle," Kat responded as bluntly as a baseball bat.

"Righto," he replied dimly. It was actually somewhat amusing how the leader-by-default was still being lorded over by his girlfriend...

In a pussywhipped kind of way.

The grimly amused little smirk that had been on his face a few seconds before died away though, as the Ivory Blade Liger rounded another heaping junkpile in time for a damaged looking Raptor to stagger out in front of it, shrieking irately and holding the bits and pieces of a real Rev Raptor's head in its mouth. Without even giving the thing the time of day, Kyle had activated the shield and plowed right through the little Sleeper, sending it flying into the air only to crash back down on its head and-

Abruptly, the Liger ducked down. Kyle sputtered a curse and Kat followed suit almost instantly as both pilot and passenger heaved downward with the momentum of the Zoid. A second later, a decidedly undamaged Raptor went flying overhead, landing with both feet on a pile of rubble and twisting about to bring its saws to bear. With that, the Raptor jumped again...

And found itself impaled completely on the Liger's right blade. Kyle hadn't even finished giving the order for the shield to drop. He'd literally intended on doing it and the rest just fell into place like the last pieces of a puzzle.

The Raptor shrieked indifference though, flailing around as its core split ruptured and exploded, leaving only a pile of stone and metal to crash to the ground a few seconds later. With that, Kyle turned his attentions elsewhere-

And again found himself ducking a third Raptor that had been hiding in ambush.

"Repetitive much?" He asked somewhat smugly as this Raptor landed in the same place as the one before it, only to run down towards the front of the Liger...

Where it promptly found its head and chest imploded from a glowing golden Strike Laser Claw. Without the dramatic shouting that guys like Mark and Bit Cloud tended to enjoy. As with before, he had simply intended on doing it and the Liger had acted accordingly.

"Could get used to this," he mused, checking the scanners to be sure that there wasn't a fourth Raptor lying in wait somewhere. Thankfully, that seemed to be the last of them in this spot.

"Open up a channel to the others," he ordered, instantly regretting it upon feeling the scathing look of Kat's eyes burning into the back of his head. It was enough to make most men wince, and Kyle wasn't any different. "You did say you wanted to help..."

"I said I wanted to come along for moral support, ya lazy bum," Katherine replied. "But comm's on... Now," she added a second later, looking pleased with herself.

"Report in," Kyle ordered simply, not even wanting to think about how militaristic he was sounding.

"Fine," Bill replied first.

"Found Leon Tauros, playing guard dog... Sir," Mark added next with a near-sadistically amused tone to his voice.

"... You're gonna pay for that," Kyle left unsaid with a slight twitch of his brow.

"Almost done up here," Pierce added after what sounded like a few seconds of hesitation. Since it was audio-only right now, he had to wonder what her expression was.

"Everything's pointy. I hate pointy," Jamie chimed in not long after that. He sounded decidedly less amused than anyone but Bill right now.

"Alright. I'll need everyone to check- fuckin' hell!" He shouted out with no warning at all, promptly echoed by both Jamie and Pierce, then Mark a few seconds later. Even though Kyle could see none of their expressions, he knew what they were, and he also knew why they had them. The reason was actually quite simple.

It was a Whale King, type five or six, coming in at an absurdly low altitude and dropping Zoids off every step of the way. The guns normally hidden in its sides and belly were exposed and firing like mad, and as its shadow passed overhead, Kyle literally braced himself in the cockpit. Barely a moment later, a shockwave from its engines almost knocked the Liger right off its feet, and it wasn't long after that when a transmission came out on all channels.

"The cavalry has arrived," said the voice of a man that Kyle immediately recognized as Stigma Stoller. With that, the transmission cut off and he could see something easily identified as the Elephander dropping out of the mouth of the Whale King and landing somewhere across the city, followed by the immediate rumble and glow of gunfire. Almost everywhere at once, the tide didn't just turn, it came to a halt and then reversed completely.

"Well... Can't say I'm not surprised," Kyle admitted after a few seconds. Nobody else even bothered speaking to that.

It was finally over.

That realization alone would've brought most people to their knees, but rather than all of that, Marry Champ simply allowed herself a slow, ragged breath as she climbed up out of what was left of the brutalized Dark Horn and fought off the urge to cry. Convention said that warrior-princesses weren't supposed to shed tears after a battle, and although Marry scarcely believed herself to be much of a warrior even after last night, she wasn't in any mood to defy convention.

Instead, she finally felt her feet hitting the rough ground through the soles of her boots. Her knees felt like jelly, her hips were cramped, her back was sore and her arm was now hanging limp and numb with only makeshift gauze and bandaging to hide where the shard had pierced her flight suit and the skin beneath it. With a sigh, she had brought her uninjured hand up to further cover the wound.

"So much death," she thought with a distinct sense of detachment from it all.

It was as though someone had given her an out of body experience, then dipped her heart in novacaine when she'd come back to it. Even as she began to step forward on the rough and uneven dirt, asphalt and whatever else happened to make up the ground, she couldn't help but feel as though she shouldn't have survived the night when so many others had been killed during it...


She couldn't help but wince at the sight of the crater where those three had sacrificed their lives. It was as deep as a typical swimming pool, but easily twice as wide. The walls might as well have been lined with painted glass considering how they'd been charred black during the explosion, and even though the blast that had formed it had taken place hours ago, it was still smoking and she could still feel heat coming off of it from more than thirty feet away.

"I wish I'd gotten to know the three of you," she said aloud, and meant it. "I owe you my life..."

Before she could continue drowning in reverence for strangers though, her attentions were drawn away from the crater by the sound of an irate growl nearby. In turn, it was followed by metal crunching. When Marry finally glanced off to the side, she was greeted by the sight of her true guardian from the night before.

It was the Black Shield Liger. Covered in only minor spots of damage from the battle, it now stood tall over a pile of what had once been Raptors. Its claws were issuing what looked like golden smoke, and its teeth did the same. Beneath its feet, a Raptor's stoning head was being crushed with an almost feral sense of patience, and its mouth dripped fluids from however many Sleepers it had killed to protect her.

"I guess I owe you my life too, don't I?" Marry asked with a grim smile, finally turning towards the beast outright as she regarded it.

Its only reply was another low growl before it abruptly crushed the head of the Raptor beneath its clawed foot.

"Maybe... I could repay you with a name?" She asked after a few seconds. The Zoid seemed to pause completely as the last whisps of smoke left its teeth and claws, head slowly tilting to one side.

If Shield Ligers could be more expressive, Marry imagined that this one would've probably had a strange look on its face. Maybe a raised brow, if it had eyes. It wasn't really an amusing thought for her, but anything that staved off images of those Zabers self-destructing couldn't be too bad.

"I think... You belonged to one of my aunts, didn't you? A woman named Charlot Amadeus Champ, I think," she began, causing the Liger to elicit several low growls. Obviously, it seemed to remember the woman. "Well..."

Marry paused, staring down towards her feet for a moment. Then she smiled, for real this time.

"I think she'd be happy to know that your new name is Amadeus," she explained, looking back up from the ground to try and make what amounted to eye contact with the newly named Shield Liger.

Several seconds later, the entire countryside rumbled and shook from a single deafening roar. Amadeus obviously approved.

The last Sleeper issued a shriek as its neck exploded in flames and sparks, sending debris flying in a perfect ring as the head literally fell off. A few seconds later, the rest of it fell over and slammed into the ground with a deafening thud, echoing across what now looked like little more than a burning junkyard.

With that, a pair of talon-equipped feet touched down onto the ground. Their owner landed with a skid and a crouch, head tilting this way and that as the pilot took one final glance down at the scanners. She already knew there was nothing left after all of the violence from the last night, but it was always best to be thorough...

And she had been thorough. As she'd expected, there wasn't a single Sleeper left on the scanners at the Northern sector.

The Gun Raptor issued an exhausted growl, and Leena Tauros echoed it with a tired sigh. Bringing one hand up to rub her eyes, she also made a point of checking the Zoid's status and matching it up to memory.

A little under two-hundred kills, and she still had three rounds left in each gun. The worst damage had been intentional, and amounted to a few beam holes in the side of one shoulder.

"Nnn... I'd say we've done our job," she commented to the Raptor with a dull tone, and it nodded tiredly in agreement.

With no further prompting, the triumphant little Zoid turned away and began to walk towards Gyran fortress.

For the thirty-second time, he decided that he didn't want to be awake right now.

He was lying in an onboard bunk bed. He wreaked of blood, ash, vomit and gunpowder. He hadn't bathed in weeks, maybe even as long as a month. In the span of three days, he must have killed more people than he could've ever counted, and many of the dirty work had been by his own hand with a knife. His brother was dead too, also by his own hand. Even if that death had been more sterile than a lot of the others since it had been through Zoid combat.

He had seen things that even now, his mind struggled to comprehend. A man who'd been nothing but a prisoner in his own body for years, yet willingly ended up giving his life for the most hideous cause imaginable, simply because he wanted to end it all. An Organoid so driven to evil for reasons so alien that he didn't think he would've understood even if he knew what those motives were.

And then, above all of the others...

There had been him.

A youth only a few years younger than he was, embodying violence down to the very core. He had murdered thousands, be it for misguided revenge or simply for the thrill of it all. In his eyes, he had seen nothing short of Hell itself, underscored by a grin that made him tremble in fear up until the very last time that they'd clashed.

And in the end, Bit Cloud was becoming just like him. He had fallen from grace, and he had done it so horribly that he had helped the end of the world.

For the thirty-third time, he decided that he didn't want to be awake right now.

He also decided that he really wanted to be alone.

You're in pain right now, Zeke pointed out from the corner of the room. Bit simply kept his back turned to the Organoid, preferring to try and sleep on his side, staring at a wall in the dark.

"I'd be in less if you'd just fuck off and die," he growled out.

I can't do that, and we both know that you don't mean that either, the Organoid said in a voice eerily similar to his own. Belatedly, Bit wondered whether he had ever noticed how nerve-wracking it was to share your thoughts with another creature...

He couldn't really tell though. It was like the world had divided into three neat little slices: Normalcy, the precursor and everything after Asmodeus' awakening. Normalcy was nothing but a blur of color and sound, running from birth to the night he had traded blows with that demon called Obscura. Precursor encompassed everything afterward, and while none of it was a blur, it all divided and threaded into so many different directions that he couldn't make out one thing from another...

And everything after Asmodeus was so crystal clear that even thinking about it made him want to throw his guts up on the floor. He had long since run out of mostly-digested food stuffs and bile back in Nyx, after all.

"Why didn't you ever tell me? About Vilhelm..."

What difference would it have made? You simply would've held back when you fought him out of pity.

"Why didn't we just go in together right off the bat?"

We were both too weak.

"Why didn't Madison and Roc just wipe them all out then?"

Zeke gave the notion of a grimace.

Because it wasn't their place.

There was one pause...

"Why did I fail?"

Then another...

"Why?" Bit asked again, sounding angrier this time.

... I don't know, Zeke answered after a longer pause than either of the two before it. The notion of a grimace gave way to one of an outright frown.

Bit twitched.

"AND WHY THE HELL AM I BECOMING LIKE HIM?!" He finalled screamed, whipping around and bolting upright to his feet so quickly that he didn't even notice his head whacking against the frame of the bunk. In the dark, all he could see of Zeke was a faint shimmer across the Organoid's golden skin and the dull glow of two green optics...

Both of which were glazed as if on the edge of tears.

You're not...

"I TRIED TO STRANGLE A FUCKING TWELVE YEAR OLD!" Bit replied furiously, taking one stomp forward as Zeke gave the notion of taking a step back.

You're not like him, Bit, Zeke finally, futily tried to point out.

Bit's only response was to reach down at his side, grab the Handleblade and twirl it in one hand for a few seconds-


Just before stopping the movement and slashing it right across his other forearm so quickly that the blood splattered off of the knife blade and landed on the floor audibly. Without even bothering to pay attention to the wound, he shook the knife off and then raised his newly cut arm up...

"I'm worse," he said, and meant it. "At least he didn't count a fucking messiah as an ancestor... Let alone three," he growled out.

... Why did you do that? Zeke asked belatedly, even as the wound began to shimmer a light gold and close up.

"... I don't know. Something about hero's blood in my veins or something... I forgot," Bit admitted after a few seconds, sheathing the Handleblade without another word.

Blood doesn't make you who you are, Zeke pointed out.

"I know," Bit replied, flopping back down into bed and rolling over onto his side again. By now, the cut had healed completely.

You should get something to eat... And a shower.

"I don't feel like it. Why eat when you can't starve? Why be clean when the world's lyin' in pieces all around?" Bit asked, rolling onto his back and staring at the bottom of the upper bunk, though it was still too dark to see anything in detail.

Because such things remind you that you're still alive... And still human.

"... Human. What a joke," Bit replied, closing his eyes again and deciding, for the thirty-fifth time, that he really didn't want to be awake right now.

Twelve hours. For twelve long, gruelling hours, they had all fought. More so than almost anyone else on the battlefield, she had seen the violence firsthand through a sniper scope. She had been able to see, in perfect clarity, Zoids dropping like flies as their cockpits were blown open and their cores ruptured. She had been able to see even as the pilots themselves were ripped out of their seats, alive and screaming even as they'd been hurled to their deaths or reduced to a reddish pulp.

Even with all of the fatalities on both sides though - humans and Zoids alike - only two of them really stood out. They were the ones that had happened within a hundred yards of her, in place sight.

One had been an outright vaporization, the other had been an infinitely more bloody affair of a mutant Redler's blade crashing through the cockpit. Both had happened in what she percieved to be slow motion, yet it had been all too quick to even wrap her mind around.

Oddly enough, even though only two of them had been related at all, she felt that they were all sisters. From the way they had first met to the way they had prepared to go into battle for the last time...

Right down to those stupid markings on her fist. Those had been Claire's idea. Right before they'd all climbed into their Zoids, she had whipped out a permanent marker and scribbled some foriegn letters across their hands, each one supposedly symbolic of an ancient word for friendship. She'd said the language was supposed to be something called Japanese, but neither of the others had really understood the point at the time.

At this point, she'd've given almost anything to bring Claire back and let her know that the markings weren't stupid at all. After all, she'd spoken to the Dead only hours before but...

Something told her that it would've been a moot point to speak to Claire now. If only because, she felt, that the girl already knew.

For whatever reason, this brought her a shred of comfort. That shred lead into a small smile as she reached one hand up and wiped a few tears from her face.

"I won't forget either of you," Naomi Fluegel thought as she clenched her right hand - the one that Claire had drawn on.

Behind her, the Red Comet Gunsniper lay in ruin, completely devestated by the rigors of combat and the blast that should've been heard around the world. Even so, it had served her well. Chunks of its armor had been ripped open, and even more had melted all together. Both arms were gone, the tail had broken and one of the legs was also missing as well. It had run out of ammo in every gun, to the point that she had suicidally thrown it against one of the last enemies still standing...

At the thought of it, she finally turned away from the rising sun and glanced off to the side, where there now stood nothing but a mutilated smoking crater and a few piles of debris. What was left of the Iron Kong gleamed a near-solid black, exactly like the crater itself. What was left of the Sleeper lay in a pile of stone not far from that, the head topping it all off as it seemed to scream forever in silence.

And yet, there was still life in there.

Naomi's eyes widened to the size of quarters as she watched it happen.

Slowly but surely, with the kind of effort reserved to people who had the fate of the world dangling from their fingertips, a brutalized looking young man was using one hand and one leg to literally claw his way up the side of the crater. One of his arms, along with the opposite leg, looked to be broken and bleeding. His back looked singed to the point that it had probably only just stopped smouldering, and though she couldn't quite see it, Naomi knew his face was probably contorted into a look of absolutely rigid determination.

A few months ago, she probably would've been mortified to the brink of throwing up.

Right now, she realized, all she wanted to do was lend a helping hand.

"Hang on!" She shouted, just before taking off for the crater as quickly as her legs could carry her.

"What in the Hell happened here?" He wondered to himself with a jaw that, for the first time in months, was slacked in a mixture of horror and awe. It was like stepping into a cross between a recently looted graveyard and an outright warzone. Dead Zoids lay scattered and in piles in almost every direction, some of them normal, many of them appearing freakishly deformed and many more so brutalized that their bodies had stoned over and collapsed. A few human bodies could be seen as well, though they were only barely distinguishable from bloody stains and vaguely humanoid bricks of ash. A few shadows had even been burnt into the ground.

In all honesty, it was one of the most horrible things that Jack Sisco had ever seen. He had trouble just wrapping his mind around it, let alone the circumstances that had created it all. Whatever battle had been raging in Champton prior to his arrival, judging by the evidence, it had been nothing short of a thousand nightmares rolled into one.

Even so, it was easy to find a small spot of numbed disbelief and continue to trudge on. He had always been that way.

Soon enough, he had managed to shut himself off to it and continue onward, guiding the Lightning Saix through a series of short and sharp turns around piles of debris, only to abruptly grind to a halt in recognition.

Directly in front of him was a colossal mountain of what had once been debris. At its foot, he could see what remained of a brutalized Lightning Saix, its cockpit open but no bloodstains visible on the ground...

"Why the Hell would they be here?" He asked himself as that comfortable numbness began to drop like a stone into his gut. Chris and Kelly's parents were divorced after all, and neither of the sisters particularly favored urban sprawls like Champton...

Had the situations all become so bad that the whole Tasker family had reconvened here? And if so, were the sisters alright?

The feeling in his gut intensified as Jack rounded another corner, only to find himself halting in even more recognition at the sight he was greeted with.

The Red Blade Liger, battered to the point that it didn't even look capable of standing anymore, and the Shadow Fox. The Red Blade had obviously trekked here with some assistance before finally falling into a slump, and judging by its sorry state, it wasn't going to move again anytime soon, but-

The pilots were outside.

Standing in plain view was a man that Jack quickly identified as Marcus Harlock, sipping coffee out of an ugly looking mug the size of a small pitcher, and next to him, on the nose of the Liger, sat one Leon Tauros. At this distance, he had trouble picking out their expressions, and there simply wasn't any way to hear what they were talking about, if anything at all, but he could tell that one of them had been through Hell. Leon's posture was slumped badly for a man of his stature, and his head seemed to be hanging almost limply from his shoulders.

"May as well see if they know anything," he reasoned after a few seconds, uneasily slowing the Saix down and guiding it over towards the two of them.

By the time he had arrived, only Harlock seemed to have noticed him, jolting an elbow into Tauros and getting little response. When Jack opened the cockpit, Leon simply found something of interest to look at involving the Saix's back foot...

"What the Hell happened?!" Jack shouted down at the two. Harlock's response seemed unusually measured given what Jack knew of the guy.

"You're Jack Sisco, right?!" He called up, setting his coffee down on the Liger's snout and straightening up.


"Ya might wanna get down here," Harlock suggested with a grim tone.

Less than five seconds later, Jack had hurriedly discarded the safety harness and made the leap down to the ground, twenty or so feet below. When he landed, his legs jolted with the shock, but he had already straightened up before Harlock could even finish taking a breath.

"What. Happened?" He asked again.

"All Hell broke loose," Harlock answered.

"Were Chris and Kelly involved?" Jack asked.


"Where are they?" He demanded, fists clenching.


Mark trailed off, head tilting over towards Leon. The Liger pilot was utterly unresponsive though, leaving Jack to quickly assume the worst and-

"Kelly..." Leon finally spoke up, only to pause and stumble for words. Impatiently, Sisco waited until, "Ke-"

"KELLY'S DEAD!" A woman's voice shrieked behind him in what could best be described as pure agony. Abruptly, Jack felt himself shoved forward several steps by a weight that all but jumped onto his back. Even as the words left his heart to sink through to his knees, his mind managed to recognize the voice and the person as that of Chris Tasker.

"W-wha-what?!" He responded with a lump in his throat.

"... Yeah. She died. Last night," Leon replied, still looking away. He sounded like he had been kicked in the face by a wild mule.

"WHAT?!" Jack finally screamed out, only to realize he was trembling by then. Chris had her face buried into his back and her arms were wrapped around his midsection, but all that he could focus on was Leon Tauros.

The guiltless bastard who didn't even have the courage to look at him.

"I wasn't fast enough..." Tauros blathered.

Less than a second later, Jack had ripped forward, leaving Chris to stumble back, Mark to jump aside and Leon to fly right back over the edge of the Liger's snout and into the cockpit as Sisco's fist cracked across his lower jaw. Loudly.

"WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF EXCUSE IS THAT?!" Jack found himself screaming while crashing sideways into the side of the Zoid's head, unable to stop his own momentum after the right hook he'd just delivered. Not that he cared to anyway. Barely a second later, he was trying to scramble up into the cockpit and strangle Leon by hand, but instead found a pair of sturdy arms locked around him from the side.

Even as Jack flailed, cursed, kicked and screamed his head off, Marcus Harlock forcibly pried him away from the Liger and its pilot. It wasn't an easy struggle though.

"LET GO OF ME! I'LL FUCKIN' KILL HIM!" Jack demanded, finally smacking Mark across the head with an elbow. As a result, not only did the former Gustav trucker let go and stumble aside, but his temple also started to bruise while that worn baseball cap fell to the ground.

Again, Jack dove forward, even as Chris was screaming at him to stop and-

Fell flat on his face as he felt Mark reach out, grab him by an ankle and literally yank him back.

"Calm down!" Mark demanded, practically playing tug-of-war with Jack over his own leg.

"FUCK OFF, REDNECK!" Jack replied in kind, hobbling around on one foot as he reached out, grabbed the rim of the Liger's cockpit and then used his other hand to reach into his jacket. With that, he'd grabbed the handle of his gun and-

"That's enough, Jack," Leon finally stated, having by now leaned upright. Without even giving Sisco the chance to think, he had knocked his hand off the Liger and climbed back out of the cockpit.

"Shut up," Jack ordered, finally yanking his foot free of Mark's grasp and whipping around. The revolver was almost out of its holster by now, but...

"Don't you have more important things to do," Leon began, just as the two finally made eye contact. At once, whatever bitterness and contempt Jack had literally washed away in the face of a man who now seemed to look like some kind of walking corpse. It was as if someone had taken Leon Tauros' drive and ripped it right out through his eye sockets, leaving little more than empty grey windows to stare back out at the world.

"Than to take out your grief on a failure?" He finished bluntly, offering no defense whatsoever.

For a few seconds, Jack just stared at him. Chris was crying off to his right, and Mark was rubbing his head with a sore look. Finally though...

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah, I do..."

For a few more seconds, Jack and Leon stared at each other, before Sisco finally turned away with a huff and walked over to Chris. Without even so much as a word, she had thrown herself against him all over again.

It was going to be a long day...

"You should let me take you to a sickbay," she pointed out as the two of them half-walked, half-hobbled through the barely intact doorway, ducking to avoid exposed re-bar and a hanging pipe as they did so.

"There are more important things to worry about right now," he replied in kind, his voice sounding as ragged as someone who hadn't slept in the better part of three weeks. Knowing his recent schedule though, she didn't really doubt that this was the case. Atop sleep deprivation though, where the more pressing issues of burns across his back, a broken arm and leg and at least three cracked or broken ribs - among other things.

"I still don't understand," she said, pausing once they had entered the hallway, its lights flickering on and off as both main and emergency power supplies struggled to match the weight of the demands being placed on them. "You may end up dying if you've got any internal bleeding..."

"There are more important things to worry about right now," he said again. One of his eyes was half-shut, the other was wide open as if on a coffee binge. Both were bloodshot and beneath them, his mouth had curled into what resembled a cracked looking smile.

Rather than questioning him further though, Naomi Fluegel simply shook her head and continued to awkwardly hobble along with most of Harry Champ's weight slung across her shoulders from the side. Even now, he refused to be carried, preferring instead to hop alongside her using his one good leg while the other just hung brokenly, accompanied by his broken arm. Even his face looked bruised and a bit burnt, with ash caked along the tips of a few hairs from his near-suicide attack on the last Sleeper.

But in spite of all of that, for some inexplicable reason, Harry kept wanting to make his way down beneath the base and declare victory to the people. She didn't understand it even for a second though, for the simple reason that such declarations only mattered in the history books. Here and now, it was like playing Russian roullette with a fully loaded handgun.

Soon enough though, they had finally reached an elevator. When it didn't come on call, the result of a power failure or structural damage no doubt, Harry had directed her to a flight of stairs and Naomi, after some disagreement, complied. The walk down was awkward and ungainly at best, with Naomi having to go first by one to two steps at a time just to keep from having Harry fall over and send them both tumbling down to their deaths, but after almost an hour of painstaking effort, without much conversation between them, the two had arrived at the last lower level Harry had been in.

A few minutes later, they had emerged into a hallway of people who looked as if they came from every single walk of life possible, and even a few that weren't. From refugees with no place to belong to at all to upper class executives and the like - all of them were huddled along the walls of an underground hallway, beneath Gyran's layers of concrete, re-bar and dirt. Upon entry though, every single one of them snapped to look at Harry's battered carcass with such speed that she could actually hear it.

None of them spoke after that. They simply waited.

And for a few seconds, Harry left them that way. Even as Naomi finally looked away to the crowds to try and get a look at his face, his head was hung too low for even her to see. She could hear him breathing though, and feel the muscles in his arm tightening before finally...

"WE WON!!!" He screamed, hurling his head upright and bursting into a shocked type of laughter that seemed to reverberate through everything in sight. For several long, almost agonizing seconds, the halls were echoing with the message and the laugh after it, while everyone around the pair seemed to collective drop their jaws.

At last though, the partial silence cracked. A few people mumbled their disbelief.

And then, it shattered like glass into a veritable symphony of laughing, screaming, crying and cheering that echoed across every single surface in the hallway, while no less than five people rushed forward to grab Harry out of her arms and heave him up onto their shoulders.

"Get the word out!" He ordered with sudden authority. "We survived! And we're gonna keep surviving!"

And as Harry was more or less carried off by the people, sending others running down several more passageways, Naomi Fluegel finally let out a smile of her own.

"So... That's what it means to be a Champ," she thought, just before collapsing back into a wall, sliding down to the floor and bursting into laughter so hard that she started crying a few seconds later.

Author's Note: What an up-and-down pain in the ass chapter this was to write >.>; But yes, the Doom Siege is officially, finally over.

And for the record: Jack Sisco is a pain in the ass to write. I may kill him out of spite if he persists e.e :But points: Marry and Amadeus however(both of which will be important in the long run), wrote quite easily.

Also sorry for any formatting screw-ups. FFN is still out to fuck me, I tell ya...


Granted, it was supposed to two chapters ago, but better late than never. I'm actually hoping it hits the 300,000 mark by the time it's all said and done o.o

Anywho, reviews are addressed in the usual place, find the link in my bio. Sh33p out.

Tides of Darkness by Sh33p

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Tim's Fanfics home www.seltzerbooks.com/fanfics

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