Tides of Darkness

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

By Sh33p, CultofSh33p@aol.com

Chapter 15


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:Phelan, aka Wolfenmech, is officially your new God-Emperor. Go. Worship him.

Scene One: Witch Hunter Robin - Shadow
Scene Two: Witch Hunter Robin - Plot(or Gundam SEED - Wheel of Destiny)
Scene Three: Sarah McLachlan - I Will Remember You
Scene Four: Wolfs Rain - Heaven's Not Enough 

It had been at least two hours since Bit had excused himself. In that time, coffee had been brought, the meeting had been put to the breakstone once, donut sticks had been eaten, ramen had been slurped and several people had used the bathroom. The only thing he had in common with anyone left in the room was that he had been to Hell with one of them and, like most of the others, had gotten a drink and eaten. A donut stick. Followed by a bagel. Then a microwaved corndog. And then two bags of chips. It was the first thing he'd had in... Far too long, that actually equated to real food.

It was also the first time in years that Sarah had made even the slightest attempt at reigning in his eating habits. It hadn't worked. At all. She seemed disappointed, but his growing immersion in the cold reality of their situation left him with little care for that fact.

It was actually sad. She was his mother. She gave birth to him, murdered her own husband to try and keep him in her custody, degraded herself on at least a few occasions and broke glass ceilings, careers and laws to try and keep him happy and provided for. She'd even given him the 'toy' that almost every normal child wants: A Zoid. An Ultimate X, no less. And in the end, none of that had done her any good at all. If anything, she'd only sped the eventual schism up by years, maybe even decades.

And there was also the matter that her other son was dead... A mass murderer the likes of which hadn't been seen in centuries.

Unfortunately for Sarah though, Vega Obscura's musings weren't even related to this line of thought. He had gone through the explanation of what had happened in Nyx, from start to finish. He had detailed everything he knew, from Bit's time training under a woman named Madison to the rise of the Asmodeus, not to mention their panicked flight from Hell and everything in between. He had even gone so far as to replay the Demon King's rise six times at different angles and distances, picking each one apart as only he could.

And the responses, irrelevent as they were in his eyes, were as easily predicted as they were pointless. Fear. Anxiety. Brooding. Utterances of profanity, hushed calls to God, and even a few tight hand-squeezes among those few in the room who were close enough to share them. Vega heard every single one of them.

But his attention was locked solely on three people.

"... I don't know what the hell we could do to it," Jamie Hameros finally said aloud with a sigh that sounded like nails on a chalkboard. He'd joined the table almost within minutes of Marry's departure, assuming her seat in the process. "My only guess about it is that it's slow, but something of that size would have more protection than... Anything," he fumbled out. It was clear that even now, he was at a loss for words. "Its armor alone's gotta be at least as thick as the body of a Gojulas... And the internal structuring's probably so sturdy that it could withstand a charged particle cannon. Or three. Plus a missile barrage and the hybrid cannons," he mumbled. As Vega'd expected, he was three steps ahead of almost everyone else in the room when it came to planning and analyzing. Even the military experts.

With Jamie failing miserably though, Vega shifted his eyes over to the next of his three people. Leena Tauros. He didn't know the specifics, but something had happened to her. Something big, important and long lasting. He had seen it in her eyes and, more to the point, he was certain that she had known he'd seen it just by looking at him.

"... I can't find any weaknesses. At all," she stated, blandly. Where he'd expected Jamie's comments, Leena's left him with a sinking feeling. Like someone had dropped a brick in his stomach and chained it to the heaviest anchor they could find. Outwardly impassive, he was feeling more tense by the second. "I can't gauge its armor depth, but its body is literally covered in shield projectors and multi-use turrets, all tucked away out of sight," she said with certainty this time. "I can't gauge very much about how it all works from video and audio only, but I'm guessing it's using some kind of..."

Cue valleygirl pause. In spite of the change, Leena's vocabulary still had some work to be done before it was up to par in a discussion like this.

"Electromagnetic field manipulation," she finally said off the top of her head. Vega almost wanted to clap at how she'd said it without even hearing it from someone else. "In order to fly," she finished, then picked up again. "It absorbed the continental Rare Hertz that Vega mentioned earlier, and that's probably what's providing much of its initial power. Anything that size is likely to have a dozen or more seperate Cores, and it'd take the kind of power it absorbed just to jumpstart them..."

There was another pause. Nothing was humorous about it.

"What Vega and Bit dealt with wasn't even a fully awakened Asmodeus. It was still sluggish from its Cores waking up. Judging from the video, it's probably still sluggish right now or it'd be using an orbital slingshot maneuver to get around," she pointed out.

"... Since when did you become a walking pile of technobabble, anyway?" Leyon chimed in sardonically. Leena shifted an apathetic look his way, but Vega didn't mind the interruption. Leyon happened to be number three on the list anyway.

He was there for a simple reason. More so than anyone else, Leyon had said the most, but he'd contributed the least. Some might chalk this up to raw nerves, egomania and even crazed college professor syndrome. Chances were, they'd be partially correct.

Vega knew better though. Leyon had a cold sweat. He was avoiding eye contact by looking at people's noses and mouths. Occasionally, he had stumbled over his words and on several occasions, he had actually choked aloud whenever someone made a particularly rash suggestion. Vega knew it. He was certain the Leena knew it too.

"He's hiding something," he thought to himself, eyes narrowing by a few fractions of an inch as they settled on Leyon's pointy head. Specular issued a growl behind him, but said nothing. She was more focused on scrutinizing his birth mother.

"Anyone can s-"

"What is it you're hiding, Leyon?" Vega finally asked aloud. Leena seemed to take it as her cue. Only belatedly did Vega realize that she'd probably planned on letting him start first ever since she had picked up on Leyon's more-unusual-than-normal behavior.

"You're acting strange. Even by your standards," she pointed out.

"And what the hell is that supposed to mean?" Leyon snorted.

"Out of everyone here, you've spoken the most and contributed the least. You've shot down plans as being ridiculous and taken stabs at humorizing the situation at every chance you get," Lars cut in. This caught Vega off guard. He didn't credit the nerd with having the backbone to talk down to someone of Leyon's stature and reputation. Apparently, it had caught Torson's former friends off guard too, as he could almost hear Mazemia and Takahori's breathing stop.

"So what?" Leyon retorted. "Haven't you stupid shits ever heard o' coping and criticism? Even if I can't give a better alternative, I can still see which ones suck the most."

"You've got an alternative," Leena replied calmly. At once, everyone but Vega and Lars had shifted a look in her direction. "You're just afraid of saying what it is."

"Bullshit," Leyon half-shouted through grit teeth. "If I had an alternative, don't you idiots think I'd'a mentioned it by now!"

"No," Steven Tauros cut in. Where Vega, Lars and Leena all shared a calm kind of inquisitiveness, Steven sounded more like an annoyed parent who hadn't had enough sleep lately. "You wouldn't. You'd wait around until you were so fearful that your teeth would start shaking. You'd have to see every possible alternative scrapped before you put your precious work in jeopardy," he pointed out.

"Then please explain the Shadow Fox, why don't ya?" Leyon shot back, glaring daggers down at where Steve sat next to him. Somewhere between shouting and grinding his teeth together, he'd stood upright and almost hurled his chair to the floor in the process. He was close to cracking now. Vega figured that if anyone could succeed at finishing the job, it would be Steve.

"The Shadow Fox's Beke II unit wasn't ever that important to you. If it was, you wouldn't've actively shared it with the Backdraft, and you would've come after its pilots ready to kill them in their sleep to get it back," Steven replied knowingly. At this Leyon flinched.

And then Vega was surprised again.

"... Project Blue," Sarah stated bluntly. "It has something to do with Project Blue, doesn't it?" She asked at first. Leyon was starting to squirm now.

"Well?" She demanded flat-out. At this point, she looked half-ready to strangle him.

"Project Blue," Steven repeated. "Something you guarded so zealously that I couldn't find information on it even when I hacked the freaking Guardian Force mainframe," he stated. Otto facefaulted visibly. Lars, Vega and Leena all fell dead silent. It was Steve's show now, and Sarah looked to be directing it from the sidelines. "Is that what's so precious to you?"

Leyon's head lowered.

"Is that why you haven't bothered contributing?"

His shoulders slumped.

"Is it so important that you won't risk it until everything else is thrown out the window!"

Both men took a deep breath. Steve was about to start screaming, but this time, Leyon cut him off.

"Yes," he stated. "It's Project Blue. It's my life's work and I don't wanna risk it unless there's nothing else that can be done!"

At this, Steve spoke again. Vega had to give him points for style, if nothing else.

"Guess what?" He asked. Leyon slowly turned his head to make eye contact. When he did, Steve finally answered his own question.

"There's nothing else we can do. Now start talking," he growled out. It was a far cry from the jovial model collector that Vega often thought of when Steven Tauros came to mind. His voice literally epitomized grit, and his expression was one that probably put the fear of god into others numerous times during his younger days as a Zoid pilot. To Vega, it was like watching shadows warp around a man's face until he looked more like a beast than a human being.

In truth, it was actually kind of terrifying.

Leyon's response was almost scripted out of an old Western.

"I'll do one better," he rasped out. "Get me access to the Shadow Fox."

"Gack! Damnit, Kyle, get off me!"

"He's not gonna do anything to it!"

"He's ripping out its fucking brain!"





Before Katherine could even finish trying to stabilize the situation, Leena had acted. All it took was something that looked vaguely reminiscent of an improperly done Vulcan neck pinch. After that, Harlock had literally flopped to the ground without so much as a word, dragging Abbie, Kyle and Lars right down with him in a tangle of human limbs and improperly placed hands. By the time the three had gotten back up, Lars' glasses had gone lopsided and a rather large palm imprint had burned itself into the side of his head. Not that it could be easily seen, given that he was already blushing like a schoolboy to begin with, but that was beside the point.

"... Nevermind," Kat finally muttered out after a few seconds.

"Don't worry about him. I just put him to sleep. Won't even have a bruise or any brain damage," Leena commented when Abbie finally straightened up and glared at her.

"... He has a brain?" Kyle asked. It was obvious that he was only partially joking. Vega wasn't very amused by that, but the sight before it had been humorous at least.

Marcus Harlock was not a puny fellow. He was built like a basketball player, probably on the order of 6'5" or a little taller. Out of everyone in current attendence, only Tauros and Martin could even meet him at eye level. It had taken three people just to hold him back after he'd found out what Leyon intended to do, and yet Leena Tauros, who when wearing her glasses resembled some kind of nerdy computer-obsessed schoolgirl, had dropped him with one move. It wasn't even a real attack. She'd boredly stepped up alongside him on an empty path, reached out and pinched the side of his neck between her thumb and index finger.

Then he fell over. By the time Kyle had made his wisecrack, Mark had started snoring and drooling on himself. Which was probably the reason that Kyle looked compelled to poke him with a stick.

"Now that that is over with," Vega cut in, glancing over from the downed pilot to the Zoid he'd been trying to keep Leyon from getting his hands on. "What exactly is in that thing's memory banks?" He asked, knowing that he was voicing a question on everyone's minds. Nearby, Sarah was strumming her fingers on one arm impatiently. Tauros was playing second fiddle to Leyon, helping him poke through the Fox's cockpit. They'd only been able to keep the thing in check through use of an old voice override that Leyon had left in it.

"You'll see in a minute," Leyon replied. He was presently seated in the cockpit, hunched over the primary console trying to fiddle his way through the Fox's systems. The Beke II program was resisting him, even with all of his overrides, and it was obviously beginning to frustrate him.

Finally, after almost two minutes of pillaging through back door gaps, unintentional openings and then being kicked out whenever he came one barrier shy of whatever it was he was looking for, the pointy headed freak threw up his hands and screamed. He then flopped back into the pilot's seat and proceeded to scream again. Louder.

"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU IDIOTS DO TO THIS THING!" He finally bellowed out in a rage, leaving Kyle to abruptly straighten up and glare at him. Abbie and Katherine weren't far behind. Jamie was the last. "All the systems are screwy and none o' my passwords are working on the last barrier!" He said somewhere between flailing around and throwing a temper tantrum like a five year old.

"It was recently evolved," a new voice pointed out from next to him. It was young, apathetic and perfectly rational even in spite of the goings-on of the past few minutes. "Approximately three days to one week ago," its owner stated.

At this, Vega couldn't help but glance down at his right side. The kid next to him went by the name of Alistair. He was only a few years younger than Vega was, but he looked like he had the gleam of some kind of anti-christ in his eyes. It was almost disturbing just to stand next to him. Almost like looking into a broken mirror, only completely different at the same time. Vega didn't fear him, but he could tell that his feeling was only mutual with the kid's adopted parents and Leena. Everyone else seemed to give the boy a wide girth.

"... Evolved?" Leyon asked incredulously, his fit of anger giving way to disbelief. "Nobody in your group is a scientist, and nobody had an Organoid either!"

"We didn't need one," Jamie cut in.

"Zoids don't just flash-evolve on their own!"

"Nobody is saying that it did, Doctor Leyon," Alistair replied far too calmly for his age. "But its evolution did alter some of the base programming of the Beke II system. The password right now is 'my pilot is a mental patient, his best friend is a fairy and white Ligers suck.' No spaces or commas, capitalize Ligers," he stated bluntly. Leyon stared at him. Hell, everyone but Leena was staring at him at this point.

"... What?" He replied to the looks with a shrug.

At that, Leyon's brow twitched. Steve prodded him, the two exchanged looks and then went right back to work. Another minute later, Leyon was at the last barrier. Another half a minute after that, he put in the password. A few seconds later, Martin slowly raised his head with a smile that had often made people worry about his sanity. Then, in a voice so smug and self-satisfied that it made Vega's skin crawl, the man spoke up at last.

"Success," he said. Simple, short, blunt and straight to the point. "I'll have everything we'll need in about two minutes," he stated, just as Steve handed him a computer stick of some sort. Vega only barely recognized it, but Lars practically oggled the thing. It was a specially made field-styled datastick, the kind normally used only by the Guardian Force's elite special forces. On the civilian markets, things like it would've sold for more money than the internal organs of everyone within earshot.

At any rate, Leyon shoved it into some unseen connector near the command console and went right back to work.

"... And as an aside," Leyon paused in the middle of typing something. Vega watched curiously as he glared daggers in Otto Schubaltz's direction. The general had tagged along almost for novelty's sake, it would seem, and happened to be standing next to Sarah.

"Military'll see this over his dead body," he stated bluntly. Schubaltz frowned.

"Is that really necessary?" The general asked.

"Yes," Leyon answered. "It is. I don't trust any government, and I damn sure ain't gonna trust a general either."

"... Charming," Schubaltz replied with an almost aristocratic shrug. "Is there any way you could talk him into changing his mind?" He asked, glancing over at Sarah.

"Not a chance in Hell," she replied blandly without even looking at him.

"... Well, since I'm now surplus to requirement, I suppose I'll be leaving. With my soldiers."

"No you won't," Stigma cut in almost on cue. "Because if you do, you'll be breaking your word. In doing so, you'll be damaging the reputation of the Schubaltz family name. Considering the number of people and security cameras in this fortress, not only will you be unable to eliminate all the witnesses, you'll be unable to eliminate all the evidence. Think of your son's future before you make threats like that," he commented.

"I like that guy already," Vega heard Alistair mumble with a single brow raised.

"Welcome to the club," he replied in a matching tone, complete with a similar expression: Bland, neutral and borderline apathetic. Disturbingly enough, Stigma also had this same expression on his face.

If anyone noticed, nobody said so.

"... Point taken," Otto replied after a few seconds of glaring at Stoller, just before pushing past him anyway and leaving without so much as another word. Not like he'd be hard to track down if they needed him or anything.

"With that out of the way," Steve began. "Just why are you so against showing this stuff to anyone in the military?" He asked.

"When Nadya Zenebas first made it into the cockpit of an Iguan, people cheered. They thought they had unlocked the door to survival and prosperity on Zi. When the first dictator climbed into the cockpit of a Saber Tiger, people cried. They knew they had unlocked the door to eternal warfare and restlessness. Look at what's happened since then," Leyon answered. "I'm not about to be responsible for giving a soldier anything they could ever use like that. Especially not my life's work."

Steven nodded.

"I sank thirteen years, ripped off a few trillion bucks in materials and funding and killed I don't know how many Cores to make this thing. It's a last resort. A final solution, if you will. An absolute answer to things like the Death Saurer... And Asmodeus. I made it with the full intention of never living long enough to see it used," he explained, pausing only briefly to blow his nose on the back of his hand and wipe it off on his coat. "Can't always get what ya want."

There was a shortlived pause between the two, and then Leyon cracked an unusual looking smile before speaking again.

"Now that I think about it, it's kinda like the opposite number of something like the Asmodeus... It symbolizes hope and resistance," he pointed out. "... That's prob'ly why I made it blue."

Exhaustion was setting in. It felt like the first time the fortress had been quiet in months, even though it had only been a day. Coffee was the only thing keeping most people awake, and Naomi was little different, though she'd yet to acquire the taste for it that so many people commented on.

Quite frankly, it still tasted like piss to her. She would've killed for even some storebrand tea right now. Hot, iced, room temperature, it didn't matter. It was almost like the only part of the coffee keeping her eyes open was the disgusting taste and the equally sickening sensation of the stuff slipping and sliding down her throat like motor oil - which, coincidentally, was one of the nicknames for the stuff as of late.

It was three in the morning now, maybe as late as four. Sleep deprivation and the still-fading rush of adrenaline from last night had kept her so wide awake that the only real indicator of time she had paid any attention to was daylight, and that was obviously not an option at night. Let alone under a few hundred tons of reinforced concrete and steel.

The hallways under the fortress had finally lost the noise of celebration. Every few minutes, she still passed by a couple of people who were trying to have a small party out in the open, and even a few larger gatherings every now and then, but even the citizenry had lost steam since they had first huddled together last night. Shock might've been setting in for a few people, but the delays brought by enthusiasm and denial alike were keeping most of the populace from going berserk. The kind of damage inflicted on Champton was something that would take generations to rebuild, both physically and emotionally. Naomi had the distinct impression that most of the children she'd seen in the hallways would be grandparents by the time the city was finished rebuilding itself...

And that thought made her feel old.

It made her briefly ponder the prospect of the ever-present biological clock, ticking away in every woman like their lives revolved around it.

Then a random thought of her Gun Sniper being eviscerated turned the biological clock on its ear and kicked it in the groin. Repeatedly.

Naomi had never really been one for the thought of settling down. Sure, some part of her still had the desire for a storybook ending, wherein prince charming kissed her and saved her from the decidedly anti-social lifestyle of a Zoid pilot, but it was buried so deeply that she doubted it would ever come back out in full. More than most things, Naomi Fluegel was a realist. If anything, she'd just adopt a war orphan or something when she retired.

But kids were always such a pain...

And somewhere in the midst of this trainwreck she had come to call a thought process over the past two or three days, Naomi had ended up outside of a personnel-only rec-room. Considering that Naomi now viewed herself as base personnel by default, she didn't even bother looking around to make sure no-one would see her go in.

The sight that greeted her was, at once, saddening and reassuring at the same time.

A man and a woman, seated on an old couch, leaned together. His head was propped up on her own, and both of them looked as if they'd probably cried themselves into a state vaguely resembling peaceful sleep. But they'd done it together, as evidenced by how she was wearing his jacket and his arm was wrapped around her shoulders in a protective manner. She recognized them both after a few seconds, of course. They had been Class A Zoid pilots. Jack Sisco, an ex-mercenary like Brad(possibly even an old friend of his. She didn't have the mental stamina to try remembering right now), and Chris Tasker.

That the two of them looked so grieved meant that the younger sister, Kelly, had probably been among the casualty count from last night.

Naomi didn't know them very well, aside from a meeting or two around the time of the Royal Cup, but she sympathized with the two. A lot deeper than she thought she was capable of. It hadn't been too long ago since she'd laid her own team-mates to rest, and the mark on her hand was probably something she wouldn't fade with time, even when the ink itself was gone.

Quietly, she set down the coffee on a table and made her way over to an equally old, somewhat beaten looking leather recliner not far from the couch. It wasn't much by civilian standards, but Champton seemed to go the extra mile for making life as comfortable as possible for its defenders. Naomi appreciated that. If only because she couldn't remember the last time she'd actually slept somewhere comfortable...

Not counting Leon.

Leon made for a good pillow. A better team-mate, but a good pillow nonetheless. If Naomi hadn't developed such a platonic relationship with him, she probably would've given thought as to what else he would be good as, but that was neither here nor there. It was just another thing that couldn't be changed, and in a way, the fact that their friendship was going to stay so flat, platonic and close was more of a comfort than anything else would've been.

As she lowered herself into the recliner though, Naomi couldn't help but wonder what he was up to right now. The last time she'd seen him had been through a sniper scope as his Blade Liger had plowed suicidally into a freakish Iron Kong of some sort. While she had no doubts as to whether he was alive or not, an edge of worry still gnawed at the back of her thoughts with regard to him, even now.

That worry, along with everything else that had weighed down on her shoulders and tied them into knots so tight that it hurt just to turn her neck lately, washed away not long after she kicked the seat back. Sleep set in, and Naomi Fluegel went to it as peacefully as could be.

It had been around four or later by the time he finally stopped walking. The fortress was as quite as a corpse by now, aside from the wind outside. It was still, mostly, but every so often, it kicked up and he could faintly hear the sounds of people talking, screaming or even dying. When it blew by, his nostrils flared with the vague stink of death it carried, though anyone else would've missed it easily. It smelled of boiled metal and smoking human flesh, and of rupturing cores and bloodstained glass in the sand. Occasionally, a bit of dust and even smoke would whip by during the winds, seemingly impossible since almost every fire in what remained of Champton had been put out by now.

And yet the smell of death carried on the wind was nothing to the smell of death in the hangar. Most of the dead were covered with tarps by now, and the severely injured had been moved, but people were still laid out everywhere. Most had been tucked under blankets or into sleeping bags, and their injuries just weren't severe enough to bother with medical attention when so many others needed it so much more.

Out of everyone left on the hangar floor though, only one of them had drawn his attention and held it. He had felt something unidentifiable when looking at most, but when it came to the girl with the blue hair, his vision warped into a tunnel and his mind focused accordingly. Somewhere along the way, after he'd first located her, he had grabbed a folding chair - with a few bullet holes in it, mind you - and settled down next to the makeshift space she was sleeping in.

He had waited for another half an hour before she had finally stirred. Another five minutes before she actually woke up, and another minute after that before she was coherent and awake enough to even notice his presence. When she did-

"What the fuck do you want?"

She wasn't exactly in a pleasant mood.

"I just came to deliver a message," Bill Chapman pointed out, staring not at Leyla Tsun, but out of the open door into the hangar.

"And what the hell is that?" She asked bitterly. Without even looking at him, she had sat up straight and pulled the blanket - or was it a tarp? - around her shoulders. Maybe it was colder than he thought?

Either way.

"Calm down, for one," he ordered tiredly. Even if he couldn't sleep until the day after tomorrow at the earliest. "Clear your head and you'll notice it."

"What's that supposed to mean?" She growled out. It was obvious that Leyla would've probably shot him in the head if she had a gun. Her contempt for him was something he could practically feel, boiling away at the side of his head, where she was undoubtedly glaring at him. While her hatred and fear didn't particularly effect him, he couldn't help but feel a vague tinge of malicious satisfaction from knowing it was there.

"Just do it," he ordered again.

This time, be it out of common sense, fear, or even curiosity, she complied. A few seconds later, his ears barely registered her heart skipping a beat. It was faint, but unmistakable.

Where her heartbeat had briefly been audible though, her breathless cursing and the shocked series of miniature gasps that accompanied it weren't. After almost half a minute of Leyla's silence, Bill glanced over at her in time to watch the young woman lean over and dry heave onto the hangar floor. The blanket fell away, and Bill was finally able to see the numerous holes in her jumpsuit. Every single one had been caused by his actions, and almost all of them lead to some minor or moderate cut, scrape or bruise.

"You know what it is then," he observed disinterestedly. Somewhere between heaves, she managed to gag out a yes.

"Then you should also know that you and I are among the people fated to have to 'fix' whatever it is," he pointed out. At this, Leyla gagged again before violently chucking a wad of blood onto the floor.

"No," she said almost immediately, looking back at him on a hand and a knee. Her expression was one of abject terror. Permanently blue eyes were wider than silver dollars, and looked both bloodshot and watery. Her mouth was trembling and still leaking blood, and every single hair on her head looked as if it was standing on end. "I'm not going near that thing!"

Bill frowned at her.

"You will. You don't have any choice," he pointed out.

"I'm not going near it!" She shouted out, though it woke no-one.

"You will, or I'll kill you in cold blood," Bill stated plainly.

They each paused a few seconds as fear shifted to anger, glassy blue eyes staring into neon ones. Then, finally...

"And I'll be sure to strangle you when I do it. Or maybe I could drown you instead?" He asked morbidly, neither amused or horrified by the threat he was making. It was so matter-of-factly that most people would've burst into laughter at the absurdity...

But Leyla was terrified again. More so than anything else, she feared suffocation. Drowning and strangling were two of the things that could truly shatter her resolve, and while Bill didn't know how he knew it, he had no problem using it to its maximum. There was simply no other way, it seemed.

"... What can I do?" She finally asked after a few too many seconds of staring at him like he was Satan. He almost felt guilty, but rational thought was enough to push that emotion aside. "I don't have a Zoid, I'm not a human killing machine and-"

"If Borealis picks you, stick with him. Even if he doesn't, just be there no matter what it takes," he answered, looking forward again. "It doesn't matter how you're there, you're going to be a deciding factor in how all of this ends, whether you want to or not. If you try to run from that responsibility, I'll kill you. If anyone else does, I'll kill them. It's that simple," he said bluntly.

"... Why do you act so high and mighty?" She finally sneered out, calming down enough that she could clean herself up with a sleeve and curl upright, hugging her knees to her chest.

A set of names flashed through his mind. Then the image of an explosion. Then a new set of names, these with faces attached, replaced them.

"Because I've got people worth fighting for," he said with a smile, and meant every word of it.

Author's Note: Ow. This chapter hurt just to write x.x
That said, Project Blue was mentioned only twice, wayyyyyyy back in New Age. Don't feel bad if you don't remember it XD

Hopefully the next chapter won't take anywhere near as long as this one did. Sorry for the delays, folks x.o Busy month and Creative ADD didn't help the progress of this chapter much.

Sh33p out.

Tides of Darkness by Sh33p

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