Tides of Darkness

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

By Sh33p, CultofSh33p@aol.com

Chapter 8

Rise of the Asmodeus

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:Let the AHBL... BEGIN! >.>

Scene One: Linkin Park - Opening
Scene Two:
Zoids - Zoid Eve's Theme
Zoids - Raven's Theme
Scene Three:
G Gundam - Intense Battle
Rammstein - Engel
Scene Four: Zoids - Wailing Steel

It was an odd experience, sitting in the cockpit again. For the first time in months, not counting a certain incident involving a mutant Gojulas, she was sitting amidst the consoles, panels, blinking lights and video monitors. The setup wasn't really all that different from a standard Gun Sniper. A few screens were different, the seat was less comfortable, there was a small wireframe readout of the Zoid's status positioned just beneath the main screen and a 3D layout of everything within five miles.

Without a word, she finished buckling the safety harness and brought her hands up to the controls. The cockpit lights came on and the main view screen followed suit. She had already rewritten the command system twice now, the second time because one of the techies had accidentally erased the first one while loading the new weapons and programming them into it. It had been the first time she'd ever really seen the layout of every one of the Zoid's weapons, not counting the ones she had authorized to be put on it.

It was pretty basic, really. Talons that were capable of mimicking the energy fields seen on a Rev Raptor's scythes, a tail that wasn't all that different from a Gun Sniper's, bar a series of spikes on all sides, the gun on its nose, and a hidden mortar launcher on the back. Aside from that, there was a modified double impact cannon on the thing's chest and a pair of high speed blasters mounted on the arms. It wasn't a whole lot compared to most Zoids, but combined with the agility and speed that she knew the Gun Raptor possessed, it would be enough.

It didn't take long after she'd reactivated everything for the precursor to begin. Charged particle beams as wide as houses blew up out of the ground less than two dozen yards in front of here. Tons of dirt beyond that simply bulged and broke upward, and further away still, the grass caught fire and the ground boiled into molten lava. Before, this area had been a garden of sorts, something beautiful on the edge of Gyran's ugly exterior. Harry had called it his garden a hundred times, and most of the flowers he'd brought her had probably come from here.

Now, that beauty was burning right in front of her.

As little as a month ago, maybe even less than that, she probably would've panicked to the point of tremors at what was happening all around her.

As the sun finished setting over Champton though, Leena Tauros found herself in an odd state of peace. She was calm. Her anxiety just didn't exist anymore, and though she was still worried about the other lines, and over whether or not her friends and loved ones would be amongst the casualties, she found that she couldn't quite bring herself to feel troubled over her own safety.

Maybe it was a mark of maturity, or even some form of resignation. Perhaps though, it could also have been some kind of new form of confidence. No longer the egomaniacal breed of gun slinging bravado that she'd had before. In a way, some part of her almost wondered if this was the kind of calm self-assurance that Naomi felt on the occasions she'd battled the Blitz Team.

Either way, as the first Sleepers began to climb up out of their holes like harbingers of the apocalypse, it didn't matter.

"Hello, boys," she greeted with a soft tone, the kind that sounded sadistic in spite of her zen-like calmness. "I'm about to send you all back to Hell."

Without even giving any of the Sleepers the chance to look threatening after that, the Gun Raptor bent down into a crouched posture and rushed forward, shrieking a war cry in the process.

A series of screams ripped through his ears as metal gave way to a half-dozen shield slaps delivered over the course of a single moment, and although each scream lasted only a fraction of a second, the howling laughter that came with them remained for what felt like an eternity. In near-slow motion, he watched the battered form of the third Daemon give way, its shattered right leg crumbling under its own weight and bringing it to a kneel as both arms fell away. Half of its face was missing, and yet the beast still had the resolve to try and fight onward.

A swift, violent thrust from a spinning buster arm put an end to that. There was a splash of centuries old sewer water and the third and final Daemon ceased living. In a matter of seconds, it had stoned over, though its soul was left to spiral up towards the sky, only to be pulled in by something demonic in its own right.

Without even thinking, Vega Obscura wheeled the Berserk Fury around, ignoring the damage it had sustained so far and folding both buster arms back. After that, the boosters in its legs gave a whip-like crack and forced it ahead, jumping back up onto the streets and into full view of what was happening.

Zeke was screaming something, and Bit-

"Oh, sweet mother of God..."

Bit seemed almost reverent in his horror. Specular gave a jolt of something identifiable only as fear, and while the Liger Zero, only barely visible atop the temple, began to roar and howl in some kind of power struggle, Vega shifted a sidelong glance at the bloody Death Saurer, still entombed nearby.

"... Crap," he mumbled out as the huge beast began to struggle.

Fingers almost as large as his Zoid flexed incessantly, and before long, the hands they belonged to had curled into the nearest equivelent to a fist that such a monster was capable of. For a few seconds, it seemed to hold still, and then the entire tombstone it had been stuck in shattered like glass. Debris of every size and shape went flying through the air, meeting a similar rain from atop the old temple, and as a hellish cry rumbled through the air, Vega's attention shifted back to the temple itself.

"Bit!" He shouted, unable to even register the amount of screaming that Specular was doing right now. It was all he could do to keep from having a nervous breakdown over it. "We have to get out of here!"

"I CAN STILL KILL IT!" Came the almost rabid response, deafening in its intensity.

A second later, Vega realized that what Bit was screaming about wasn't the Death Saurer that, even now, was literally shaking debris off like it was the most natural, casual thing in the world. It was something on top of the temple, just out of sight. Even then though, Vega could still clearly see the violently halting movements of the Liger Zero Kaiser, its stabilizers glowing as brightly as its claws, and all guns blazing as it jolted about.




"What in the hell are you people screeching like banshees about?" Vega finally snapped, even though Bit and Zeke didn't even register his existence at this point.

Unfortunately, the Death Saurer did. As it looked down with a sideways glare that could burn someone's soul out of their body, Vega glanced up to meet it and almost instantly felt his teeth rattling. He didn't even bother addressing the thing though, and for a few seconds, neither did it. It simply stood its ground, fingers and toes alike flexing as its tail whipped around, destroying the floor of a building in the process.

And then, as if he didn't even matter to it, the bloody Demon turned away, bringing its attentions to bear on the temple, and by default, Bit, Zeke and the Liger as well.

Like a god in its own right, the Death Saurer roared its war cry, and then threw its head back as energy flooded into its gaping mouth. Power formed into what looked like a miniature sun, made of pure molten silver or glass. For a few seconds, it stayed that way, and although Specular's memories and so many bits and pieces of history had said that it could fire a charged particle beam after only a second or two of charging up, this one just kept going. Energy continued to build within its jaws like blazing hellfire, and at last, Vega turned his attentions to Bit.

"GET OUTTA THE WAY, MORON!" He screamed out.

"FUCK OFF, YOU LITTLE PRICK!" Bit promptly replied before Vega'd even finished speaking. Finally, the Liger seemed to jolt one last time as Zeke let out a cry of pain, yet before he even bothered thinking it, Vega knew that he had to act.

One buster arm snapped forward and closed, and a light charged particle beam shot out from its center. A hundredth of a second later, Vega's ears were privy to Bit's enraged screaming as the Liger took the full force of the beam right in its side. Where so many Zoids would've been killed almost instantly though, the Kaiser's armor held up so well that the blunt force of the beam was able to fling it off of its feet and hurl it into the air with only minimal damage, but Vega didn't quit there. Another beam followed, then a third, and finally, the Liger could be seen tumbling all the way to the ground, whether Bit wanted it to or not. It passed beneath the overhang of the stoned over temple and crashed somewhere on the other side, but Vega's attention promptly snapped back to the Death Saurer before he could see it.

"Crap," he repeated, not even bothering to watch as the ancient beast of destruction threw its head forward with a vicious howl. The Fury's buster claws stabbed into the pavement around him, and both sets of footlocks followed suit almost instantly as the charged particle gun fired.

A shockwave of tortured atmosphere blew by with enough force that any glass left in the city - not counting the cockpits of the Liger and Fury - shattered almost on contact with it. It was so loud that Vega's ears throbbed instantly, and so bright that he had little choice but to look away or face temporary blindness from intensity. The pavement cracked, and any nearby bodies were reduced to a horrific pinkish dust, but it still had to end sometime.

All of thirty seconds later, it did just that. Vega practically shook the cobwebs out of his skull and looked straight ahead in time to see the Liger stepping around from behind the temple, its head hung low like some kind of monster waiting for a challenge.

"I could have stopped it," Bit's voice rang out, and Vega, for the first time, came to the realization that the blonde pilot was actually crying. "I could have stopped all of this," he grit out, sounding about as murderous as Kale had earlier.

"Stopped what?" Vega retorted sharply. "It's only a freaking Death Saurer. All we need to do is leave the damn thing here and find someone with a gravity ca-"

He's not talking about that, Specular interrupted numbly, giving the notion of pointing up and to the left. Almost instantly, Vega and the Fury each tilted their heads in that direction, and were greeted by a sight that the younger pilot hadn't expected in a million years. In its own way, it was infinitely more terrifying than any bout with Kale had ever been - and this thing wasn't even moving.

"... Oh."

"I could've killed it," Bit growled, apparently oblivious to the fact that the aforementioned Death Saurer had just tried - and miserably failed - to do just that.

"ARE YOU BLIND?!" Vega promptly screamed out so loudly that he almost felt his voice cracking.

"I've been training to kill it ever since I got here... WHAT USE AM I IF I CAN'T STOP THAT GOD DAMNED THING?!" Bit retorted sharply, sounding a bit further over the edge with every single word.

"This isn't the time to be losing it," Vega replied, trying to keep calm in spite of the fact that all Hell was literally about to break loose on their heads.

"YES IT IS! I'LL KILL YOU!" Bit screamed out, just as the Kaiser's blades snapped up into view, extended by all four joints.

Vega grimaced, ripping the buster claws back out of the pavement as the Fury's footlocks went up. Without even bothering to keep an eye on the Death Saurer, he watched as the Liger Zero came blazing in, vulcan rounds quickly managing to cover the Fury's chest in dents.

Distance closed, both blades swung forward and Vega-


Simply jumped sideways, avoiding both and snapping a kick out. The blow connected with near-Royal Cup precision, but it wasnt just the impact that it delivered. A pulse of blue light ripped through the larger Zoid's leg, passing through the Kaiser's armor at the point where the foot made contact with it and promptly flooding into the Liger's body as a result. By the time that Vega touched down out of the jump, the would-be slugfest had already ended, and the Kaiser came skidding to a mad halt on all fours in the process.

This... Is so awkward.

... I ain't complainin'.

You wouldn't.

"... Amazing how you two can be so utterly calm right now," Vega twitched out, wondering how they were managing it when, no less than a minute ago, they'd been ranting and raving about the apocalypse. Before either could even reply though, he continued, "Forget it-"

There was a monstrous crash in the background. Vega felt his spine tingle as explosions started going off.

"Let's just get the hell out of here!" He finished, tightening his hold on the controls as the world practically began to fall apart in every direction.

Both the Fury and the Liger, the latter of which was no longer even in Bit's control, wheeled about to face the nearest exit from the city, then launched off without so much as a backwards glance, even though the older pilot was still screaming his lungs out. The occasional sounds of fists hitting a console with enough force to implode it weren't exactly comforting as far as Vega was concerned, but at least it meant that Bit wasn't able to try and go back now, or attack him.

Behind them though, everything was going to Hell. As the two Zoids tore through the remaining streets on their way back out, every building in sight began to collapse without the slightest inkling of a warning beforehand...

And it was all because of the ungodly beast that the Death Saurer was rampaging against. Although Vega hadn't been watching it at the time, the bloody monster had somehow managed to hurl itself up into the air, twice the height of its own body no less, and landed perfectly atop what he'd once thought to be a temple or mountain of some kind. He knew different now, and he also knew that there were no longer any possibility of victory.

Survival. That was all that truly mattered right now.

But what to survive though?

The ground in almost every direction was ripping itself apart. Centuries worth of grime and permafrost were shattering every fifty or sixty yards, be it from conventional gunfire or even a charged particle beam. Every kilometer or so, it looked as if a mountain was ripping itself up out of the ground, and in every direction that he could think to look, an energized crystal of some kind was exploding. Gravity blasts, sub-atomic explosions, even psychic warps were tearing into existence everywhere, and above it all, the clouds overhead were blowing apart. Most spread towards the seas on all sides, but more than a few simply ceased to exist, as if they'd been thrown out into space somehow.

And at its center... At the very core of it all, near where Adam had brooded for so very long, it was awakening.

Bit let out another scream and the comm shut off as Vega felt the Micro-Sworders drawing his attention away from the flight to survival, and back over to the edge of the city, closer to its westernmost side though. It was as if he'd been forcefully disembodied against his will, and even though he was in full control of his every action, he had little choice but to zoom in on the ridge that Bit had once presumed to be nothing but an ancient transit tunnel of some kind.

The problem with that idea was that tunnels don't move, and this one was. It was like watching an unending nightmare as a single massive row of saw blade-like spines rose up through the surface of the ancient stone and grime, which itself was breaking away to reveal something so immense that Vega's mind had to struggle just to wrap itself around it all. Dirty grey gave way to polished black metallic scales, each and every one of which promptly pulsed green and stayed that way as a set of four massive limbs ripped their way out of the ground. Even though they were, in all likelihood, the smallest parts of it, each one was easily twice the size of the Death Saurer that was still raging at it, and each one was tipped with three massive fingers and toes.

Finally, like a true god of destruction, it rose. Mile after mile of the ground gave way around it, and as it did so, the Rare Hertz that surrounded the entire continent imploded into its body like a rush of air into a vaccum. It was like watching a furious rainbow of every color imaginable, slipping through the skies and waving down into the uprisen spines on the monster's back.

After that, its head came into view, violently shaking about as the bloody Death Saurer fought to keep its footing on the god's snout. In comparison, it was like watching a rat trying to tame a crocodile.

At least, the monster lifted itself from the ground completely, leaving a torrent of grime, slush and lava to flood where it had once been. As if it were the Devil himself, the monster rose. Higher and higher it went, until its entire body formed into a near maze of curves and scale-like armoring, leading from a tail that trailed what almost looked like hundreds of feet of Organoid cabling, up to its legs, then all the way to its arms, and finally to the beast's head.

This was where Vega found himself unable to go on anymore. With a jolt and a scream, he lurched forward and felt his eyes unfogging. Hands still on the controls, he felt Specular giving the panicked notion of yanking at his earlobe, and felt oddly thankfuly for it. He had seen enough.

"Hello? Vega? Anybody?!" A voice rang through his ears over the broadband. With the Rare Hertz no longer in effect, that meant that outside signals could finally reach him, and that meant-


"Damnit, Vega... Answer m-"

"Cool it!" Vega cut him off, feeling a brief and easily forgotten surge of relief at the nerd's voice.

"Finally," Lars replied in kind. "What the hell's going on out there?!"

"Don't ask," Vega answered bluntly. "Just get your scrawny ass down here and pick us up!" He ordered, only to realize what that meant and add to it almost the moment he'd finished speaking. "Either that or run. Turn around and run..."

"Make up your mind already," Lars grumbled out. "D'you want a pick-up or not?"

"YES!" Vega impulsively screamed out, feeling his fear get the better of him as he did so. "Just... Just be careful, alright? This whole continent is-"

"Going to Hell? I noticed," Lars cut him off. "And I don't give a damn. Keep the signal going, I'm gonna try and home in on it," the techy ordered, just before Vega heard him running from the comm station and firing up the Foe Hammer's engines.

"Better hurry up then," the youth muttered out afterward, knowing he went unheard.

There was a scream as the Geno Maxis closed in from above, thrusters burning like a pair of miniature suns. The grounded chimaera leapt sideways and out of the way, allowing the Geno's head blade to hit a dead Rev Raptor, skewer it and promptly rip it in half as Kale recovered. Where most Zoids, and many people, would've tried to have a stand-off right then and there, the black monster simply leapt forward into a run, narrowly dodging a downward swipe from one of the other beast's wings, which instead hit grime and succeeded in splattering it everywhere.

There was a grating sound of metal against metal, Shadow grunted and Kale briefly turned his attention to the Geno's right hip. It had been scraped up pretty badly by the chimaera's tail, but within a few seconds, the wound would be gone.

That was assuming, of course, that they'd get those few seconds. Without even bothering to wait and gauge the Ancient's next move, Kale reacted on pure instinct. Swinging the Maxis around, both shoulder cannons were brought to bear, and as the chimaera started to take flight, its hind legs were scorched and dented from hip to toe with little more than the notion of a trigger finger pulling back. Where most of the Zoids that Kale had done battle with over the past month would've likely gone down for the count right then and there, this one simply shrugged it off and got airborn anyway, arcing up with the kind of agility that'd make a Storm Sworder pilot puke, then coming almost straight back down.

Kale only barely had time to let out an irritated grunt of his own before the entire world exploded around him. The ground cratered around the Geno's feet, grime went flying everywhere and a few limbs were exposed nearby, encased in solid permafrost and only foggily visible.

When it was all said and done, the Maxis threw itself right back up, heaving the chimaera back and onto its hind legs. A split second was all it took for Kale to press home the advantage, knifing the head-blade into the thing's stomach, then tearing it back out and jumping into a tail-swipe. The combination of blows caused a shower of sparks and what looked like water to come spewing out of the initial wound, while the second attack did little other than to throw the First Born into an awkward twist onto its side.

The Maxis touched down and came in for the kill once more, teeth snapping out at the base of the chimaera's tail, only to have that same limb jam itself into the Zoid's mouth and somehow fire out each and every spine it had available.

This time, it was the Maxis that stumbled away, roaring irately with a mouth full of spurs that looked like it'd tried biting a giant metal porcupine. It only took a few seconds for this damage to become undone though, with the needles popping back out harmlessly to the ground. Unfortunately, by the time that Shadow managed this feat, the Ancient had already gotten back up, regenerated its missing needles and somehow closed the hole in its stomach.

Furious red, blue and black optics glared into genocidal ones, and with the shriek of an eagle and the war cry of a Liger at the same time, the chimaera lunged in.

Kale was ready this time. With a grin on his face and that old gleam in his eyes, he simply jumped the Maxis straight up, legs curling in on itself and tail going rigid for balance-

Only for the slaughterbeast to let out a shriek of its own when both of the First Born's wings snapped up and pancaked it between them with a sound not unlike violently rattling tin foil. Shadow let out an annoyed growl and Kale echoed it with a string of profanity under his breath, while the chimaera simply carried them along to its landing, then used both wings like a catapult to fling them away.

The Maxis flipped a half-dozen times, firing its boosters and righting itself in mid-air as the newly incurred damage repaired itself once again. Even as armored plates literally popped back out to their normal shape though, the Zoid's pilot grit his teeth.

"Going down."

Shadow gave the notion of a sardonic groan, and every booster on the Geno's body cut out. An instant later, gravity kicked in and yanked it back down to the grimey surface below, while a focused charged particle beam screamed through the air it had previously occupied. The beam cut its way as far as the skies themselves before Kale lost track of it in favor of attacking.

With the speed of a Lightning Saix, the Geno Maxis closed in on foot, its claws glowing and the guns in its shoulders blazing to keep the Ancient from simply lowering its head. A maniac's laugh-and-scream later, the black Zoid dove right back into the impact crater from before, slamming into the First Born's neck with both claws and driving it back a few steps in the process - not to mention slicing straight through the layers of metallic feathers and into the structure beneath. Furiously, the two struggled for a few seconds, with Kale successfully lodging the Maxis' jaws into the base of Roc's own, then violently slinging the huge beast back down to the ground...

INCOMING! Shadow cried, and Kale only barely had the wherewithall to let go and jump out of the way in time.

The charged particle cannon screamed back in, arcing up at the last second and narrowly avoiding the chimaera itself, but still missing its obviously intended target as well. Like hellfire, it flashed beneath the airborn Geno's feet, passing between both Zoids and seperating them completely.

"He's got style at least," Kale had time to muse.

With an agile flip that would've simply been impossible for most Zoids, the Geno touched back down at the edge of the crater, unleashing another barrage of missiles in the process-

Only to find that their would-be target was gone. Kale snorted annoyedly and promptly glared straight up to find a silver bolt coming straight down at him.

"Like I didn't see that coming," he commented snidely, just before leaping straight back and out of the way.

Again, silver hit grime with enough force to cause an impact crater, but before Obscura's mind could even comprehend what was about to happen, the bolt came in for another try. This time, it nailed the Maxis right in its chest, causing the screen in front of him to crack and distort in a dozen different places at once, not counting the actual external damage as well.

Kale let out a defiant yell, twisting the Maxis around once more and landing with a sideways skid into the grime. The silver bolt came screaming in once again, but this time, Shadow was ready for it. There was a flash of purple and black as the Ancient slammed in, only to be met in kind by a black bolt. The two promptly clashed as they had before, creating another sphere-shaped fireworks display from Hell in the process.

Back and forth, the two clashed, just before finally breaking apart completely and joining into a chase that had them both spiraling up into the skies, with silver in the lead and black not far behind. For a number of seconds, the two were visible as little more than contrasting streaks of light, just before finally tearing into the clouds and passing back out above them all at the edge of Zi's atmosphere.

Light faded with a pair of matching cracks of thunder, giving way to the view of both Zoids blasting in at each other with pulse cannons blazing. The Maxis again seemed to win the exchange, and by the time they'd gotten near point blank, the Ancient was again covered in scorch marks, with a few ruffled and broken feathers as well, while the Maxis simply had burns across his legs and arms.

Melee brought a change though. Each Zoid struck out at the same time. Roc lashed out with both wings coming straight in like a pair of swords, cutting blades glowing brightly, while the Maxis dove down with almost serpent-like agility and slung its tail up in reply. Each Zoid took a hit - the Maxis gaining a massive double-trench in each side from shoulder to hip as a result of the blades, while the tail cracked Roc's beak in several places, along with a number of the Old One's feathers.

With that, claws caught the Geno by its tail, gripping tightly while Roc visibly struggled to recover. Kale screamed incoherently and fired all of his boosters, but the chimaera was simply too powerful to rip free of that easily. Without so much as a shriek, the larger Zoid flapped its way up a little higher against the pull of the Geno's thrusters, then jolted into a spin, wings glowing brightly with the power of each and every single one of its manuevering thrusters.

A second later, it let go, flinging the Geno Maxis away and allowing the other Zoid's own thrusters to do the rest. Again, Kale screamed, and again, Shadow grunted as the black beast spun and flipped wildly through the skies, only to be caught by a sprite in mid-recovery. The lightning bolt blew around the Maxis with enough power to fry a small city, and although the Zoid itself was almost entirely unscathed, Kale-


Most certainly was not.

With a scream, he lurched forward and fought the urge to throw up as his insides felt like they'd just burst into flames. He was lucky that the bolt hadn't fried him completely, but it had still taken him out of action long enough that the Maxis was falling for a few seconds and-

There was a slice of superheated metal against metal, and the Geno suddenly lost both back boosters. Roc swooped back upright immediately after the cut, swinging itself upside down as it came about face. Kale let out another scream, and Shadow echoed it as the dropped beneath the cloud line, only having a fraction of a second to begin bolting. By then though it was already too late.

Down and down, the Geno went, taking dozens, maybe even a hundred or more seperate lightning hits within Hell's ceiling, each one a bit more violent than the one before it, and each one dealing a bit more damage to both pilot and Zoid alike. With almost every hit, Kale was left screaming and writhing in agony, and by the fifteenth or sixteenth, he'd found himself unable to even think anymore. The twentieth left him suffocating and the fiftieth caused him to start having a heart attack, but it was all over in a matter of seconds.

With only Shadow keeping its pilot from dying, the Geno Maxis tumbled back down through the clouds, covered in burn marks and smoking from forty or more different places. Its optics had exploded at some point in the fall, and if not for Shadow's influence, Kale's own eyes probably would've been in the same boat. Along with his internal organs. Even with his survival, the stink of burnt flesh, leather and cloth was so obvious in the cockpit that, within a second of the Maxis finally righting itself, Kale had thrown up all over himself.

Shadow rumbled something incoherent - a warning - and the Maxis tried to twist out of the way. With its Organoid so focused on the pilot's survival, the Zoid was left to fend for itself as far as damages and bolting went - and that just wasn't good enough.

The silver bolt crashed into the lesser Zoid's back with enough force to snap it like a twig, driving it straight down from there at several times the speed of sound. Although Kale himself was bordering on unconsciousness and heaving for air, only to scream out everytime he actually succeeded at it, he was accutely aware that the ground was coming up fast. Very fast.

By the time that Shadow had finished restoring him to the point that he wasn't a screeching corpse, there was a loud crash. Metal crumpled, the Geno roared in pain and Kale found himself bleeding in a half-dozen places from his own safety harness and how it was cutting into him just to keep him in place. The grime-covered ground at the point of impact all but imploded around the two Zoids, forming a crater that was easily twice the width of an Ultrasaurus in every direction, and almost a quarter as deep. The slush that had formerly occupied the ground around them literally tidal waved out in every direction, revealing a hundred different sets of claws sticking up out of the dirt and the permafrost, along with a few gun barrels and the occasional head of something or other.

With that, it all stopped...

Or, more accurately, it all started.

Even through the haze of pain, Kale was aware enough to feel a surge of something like a restrained sense of hopelessness from nearby. Without even paying attention to it, he looked around in the cockpit, finding that while the screen had finally imploded in front of him and broken entirely, it was still functioning to his sides. With half-lidded eyes, he watched as one of those menacing sets of claws in the ground stabbed up into the air, then slam back down in order to anchor itself. A second later, the Zoid that owned it ripped itself free from eons of imprisonment, resembling a Lightning Saix with heavier armor, larger teeth and a series of thrusters on its stomach and sides - among other things.

"The hell?" He blurted out in what felt like a drunken stupor, his wounds rapidly healing to the point that there wouldn't even be scars.

Finally, he became aware of something above him.

The chimaera had become solid once again, its front right foot planted squarely between the equivelent of the Geno's shoulderblades, just between where the boosters had once been mounted.



"Put everythin' ya got leff inta healin'," he slurred out, promptly ignoring what sounded almost like a cross between a Whale King, Berserk Fury and Death Saurer all rolled into one deafening roar, amplified a thousand times over and blared into his ears at point blank.

Shadow, shaken as it seemed, complied without another word. With the chimaera distracted, Kale had an opportunity, and as brutalized as he was right now, he damn sure wasn't going to miss it.

Damage undid itself rapidly over the course of a few seconds, and as it did, the head blade flipped back up into crest-mode, just before both arms gave a resurgent heave. Kale let out a scream of his own, muted by the sounds of distant roaring and explosions, not to mention the closer charged particle beams that were ripping up out of the ground almost everywhere.

In an instant, the blade stabbed into the joint of Roc's front right leg, cutting all the way down to the elbow in a nasty display as the smaller Zoid stood, throwing the other onto its hind legs again. With a shriek, the chimaera staggered back and away, favoring the damaged leg as it recovered its balance.

"Game over, you son of a bitch," Kale gleefully laughed out, giving the impulse to fire the charged particle cannon.

In a split second-

"We don't have time for this."

It was over.

With those words ringing through his brain as if he'd actually heard them with his ears, Kale watched the chimaera vanish into a blinding flash of silver light, which in turn bolted away as if he didn't even matter...


The charged particle cannon ceased powering up, Kale stubbornly brought the Maxis to face in the fleeing Ancient's direction and prepared to bolt after it-

And then what appeared to be a Death Stinger unearthed itself right in front of him, just as the earlier Saix-thing flashed by and dove head-on into a black saurian Zoid that vaguely resembled a Gojulas in posture. Nearby, a mutant Saber Tiger of some sort roared its war cry and tackled a newly unearthed Blade Liger, while a blood red saurer of some kind stampeded across his field of vision.

The Death Stinger brought its tail to bear, power gathering at its tip while all guns clicked, powered up and loaded to fire.

Kale's half-lidded eyes twitched.

The Stinger readied to fire.

Kale's mouth curled into a monster's sneer.

What followed was nothing short of a massacre, and as the clouds overhead blew away, there could be no denying that something horrible had happened in the distant city...

Terrain blurred into nothing but streaks of color and movement as gunfire streaked through the air. Every instinct he had was screaming to call Specular and simply flee with absolutely no regard for anything else, but his conscience was still the stronger. Something violently ripped itself up out of the ground ahead of them, and although his senses briefly registered it as looking like some kind of mutant Konig Wolf, his body had reacted before he could even finish determining what it was.

Fingers clenched on an arm raker-styled joystick, tilting it outward while pulling back as his foot eased on the right accelerator for all of a fraction of a second. Pinkish-red light filtered into the cockpit from the right side, and by the time he'd even realized what he was doing, his foot had pushed back down while the other lightened up, slinging the Fury's entire body into what amounted to a buster shield haymaker. The Wolf-thing, whatever it was, only barely had time to notice the incoming blow, and by the time that it was able to try and dodge, it was already too late.

The creature's severed back leg and tail rained down into a nearby crater, the rest of it landed in a horribly bent right angle a second later, its head imploding underneath the rest of it.

"Stay behind me!" He ordered bluntly, his voice carrying more authority than even he had meant for it to. Zeke and Specular gave the mental equivelent of stunned nodding, and Bit, if he even heard the order, was probably still busy cursing Sarah for having given birth to him.

A charged particle beam flared nearby, met what looked like a bubble of rushing water and splintered into a million smaller versions of itself. The beam held only as long as Vega was looking at it, and by the time he turned away, the Daemon who'd fired it was already being blindsided by some kind of warped black Stealth Viper. The longer Zoid was almost lightning fast, slinging its entire body around the Daemon's own, then constricting with such force that, were it not for the blare of gunfire and constant battle cries in the background, Vega would've heard the alloy crumpling. The Viper went to fire its boosters-

And was promptly ripped into a dozen different segments as the Daemon went berserk. A few seconds later, pulse lasers rained in on the thing and Vega shifted his attention straight ahead once more.

There was something swooping in.

"Jump!" He shouted, jerking the Fury down into a crouch and opening up each set of blades without a second thought.

There was a disgusting sound of shredding metals and a pair of gigantic Pteras-like wings crashed down to along either side of the Fury and Zero's path. The golden Liger had already been airborn by the time it happened, and whatever shrieking mess of a Zoid that Vega had just clipped crashed beneath and behind it with enough force to kick up a small grime-storm in its wake.

The Fury straightened up, only to duck again a second later as a nearby slugfest spilled overhead. A freakishly bladed Redler literally stabbed itself onto the body of what looked like an equally freakish winged saurer of some kind. Both Sleepers shrieked and crashed into a rock to Vega's left, with bits and pieces of both rocks and Zoids flying everywhere as a result.

He barely had time to recover from that near-disaster when a Command Wolf-sized Blade Liger charged into view, its shield active and its mind obviously set on a shield ram.

"Outta the way!" Vega managed to shout, snapping both sets of blades shut, then using one to literally bat the small Zoid away, where a monstrous pair of jaws ripped up out of the grime and snapped shut around it. There was a blinding flash of white from behind the pillar-like teeth belonging to the jaws, and after that, scorched little bits of Zoid came raining down from above.

DEMON! Zeke bellowed, followed by the imagined sound of a smack.

He noticed already, Specular grunted.

Between their panic-stricken bickering and the sudden sound of an all-too-close shriek like that of a Whale King, Vega was able to identify the jaws as belonging to a Death Saurer. That meant that, in addition to the awakening Sleepers, Nyx was now playing host to what was probably an entire army of Demons.

Were he not already numb from everything he'd seen, done and experienced today, Vega Obscura very likely would've had to stave off a nervous breakdown right about now.

"Lars?" He asked, feeling what seemed like a hair being ripped away. From his brain. It always happened when a particularly important micro-sworder, such as one trailing his only concievable ride out of this Hellhole, was killed.

"HOLD THE FUCK ON!" Came the not-so-polite reply, backlit to what sounded like something smacking into a steel floor, followed in turn by the sounds of closing gunfire and a missile launch. An explosion sounded, and it was followed almost instantly by a near maniacal laugh.

"... I'm not even gonna ask," Vega sighed, somehow finding it disgustingly easy to see that Lars had finally discovered the joy that comes with causing wanton destruction. Even if it was technically self-defense.

"I'm coming, Vega," Lars finally clarified, his voice still sounding terribly amused for some reason. "These sonsabitches aren't gonna stop me!"

"... Caution, Lars. You aren't invincible," Vega reminded him bluntly, only to hear a grumbled acknowledgement, then a shout. Something crashed in the background, a series of curses followed suit and then: "I'll get back to you..."

Lars' end of the comm went dead, Vega felt his left eyelid start twitching and did his best to brush it off as a mountaintop in the distance literally exploded, imploded, then exploded again over the course of four and a half seconds, with the third explosion looked increasingly atomic in nature. The shockwave it let off was intense enough that a few dozen of what looked like freak Molgas went flying by from over a mile away, followed by the half-mutilated Raptor they'd been working on. The entire group crashed into the middle of a frenzied exchange between what Vega instinctively recognized as a Dark Spiner, though the other Zoid seemed to defy any sort of identification. It was Fury-like in posture, covered in slanted blue and green armor, with a set of large machine guns sticking out of its forearms and a mandibled jaw.

By the time he looked away again, the Molga freaks and the Raptor were all vapor from the second Zoid's charged particle cannon.

With that, however, what looked like a rolling mob crashed into view, consisting of a dozen different Zoids, each and every one of which were unfamiliar to him, and all of which happened to be trying to slaughter each other. A grim look had time to spread across Vega's face, and each set of buster blades started whirling and powering up.

"Stay. Behind me."

No response, but he knew that the message got through.

With that, the blur of the world around him vanished into the dozens of different blurs that were made of flailing limbs, aiming guns, swinging tails and snapping jaws. The Berserk Fury literally plunged headlong into the very heart of the violence, and as it did so, Vega Obscura slipped into his element once again.

Said-element consisted of movements so quick that his mind had to go on a type of auto-pilot just to observe them all. It was like being a passenger in his own body as he guided the Fury into a stance, cutting the boosters and instead going into a straight up run. The left buster arm lashed out, blindly to some, but for Vega, it was calculated. All three blades hit the mark when they stabbed through what looked like a Gun Sniper gone wrong, paralyzing it from the neck down with one blade and getting a secure hold in its chest through the other two. Without even looking at what he was doing with the smaller Zoid, he flung it at the nearest target - some kind of hovering Cannon Tortoise with Heldigunner legs and a tail to match. The Sleeper issued a cry and was promptly bowled over, yet as this happened, the right set of buster blades had slammed shut around the head of a crocodile of some sort, just before blending it into a fine metallic slush.

Both arms were brought up for the next one though, and each one shot through a large Dibison-styled monster of a Zoid without even the slightest hint of a wisecrack from Vega, its head vaporizing amidst a stream of charged particles almost instantly. The beams hit the core soon after, and what was left was reduced to rubble almost instantly with a sharp kick, leaving bits of stone to go flying in every direction.

With a path almost clear, the Fury swept into a spinning-jump, its tail batting aside another mutant Konig Wolf, but failing to actually damage it in the process. With that, the Liger blurred by and Vega whipped right after it, firing his boosters almost on reflex to catch up.

A few seconds later, however, something Demonic in size began to rip itself free from the ground, slinging a hundred different Sleepers flying in every direction and impaling a dozen more atop a gigantic red horn on its head, though most were small enough to rip in half with the further they slid down from the tip. Vega only barely had the time consider fighting it when the beast lurched around, punting another fifty Sleepers with its tail and kicking up a veritable grime storm with its feet.

Titanic jaws split open to reveal a horrific sounding shriek, so loud that it seemed to embody death itself, and so intense that every single bullet, missile, bomb and beam - regardless of size or power - within a mile went flying wildly off course, with more than a few Zoids almost liquifying from it. Vega only barely managed to feel his ears burst into a set of miniature geysers of blood before the whole world went silver with a scream.

There was a loud crash, followed by a small shockwave of grime from the impact. Bits and pieces of severed bodyparts lay strewn about in every direction, from a massive tail that had been blown off by a charged particle beam to a colossal sonic cannon of some kind that had just been ripped off all together and flung into a pack of what looked like Molgas. Three out of eight legs lay in different sections, completely removed from the rest of the body, and as it began to stone over, one could easily see a massive hole running from the top of its body to the bottom base of its tail stump.

The dead Zoid in question appeared to be what was left of a Death Stinger, broken and battered to the point that its core had been ripped apart by an enemy even more violent than it was.


The scream echoed, even in a continent where the only audible sounds anymore consisted of gunshots, Zoids roaring and explosions so loud that many people would've been rendered temporarily deaf by them.

The response was as quick as it was unforgiving. A Raptor-like Zoid appeared almost as if out of thin air off to his right, jumping so quickly that he didn't even register it until it was almost too late. The Maxis was able to compensate though, jolting forward and swiping its tail out. The smaller Zoid was struck in the chest and thrown back and up into the air, only to have a set of dagger-like talons stab into its head before it could even land. A second later, the smaller Zoid's head was ripped off and its body left to stagger away, flailing desperately until a series of plasma bolts eviscerated it beyond recognition.

A few seconds ticked by as his own demented chuckling rang through the cockpit. His ears, burnt and throbbing like the rest of him, hurt just to listen to it, and his vision was swimming so badly that it was all he could do just to define the various moving blurs as things other than part of the terrain around him.

We can't keep this up, Shadow pointed out exhaustedly, giving the notion of a haggard wheeze in the process.

"The hell we can't," Kale replied with a wheeze of his own.

You're dying, Kale, Shadow growled. I'm barely even able to hold the Zoid together... It's all I can do to keep you from falling apart too...

"Then what's the point o' runnin'?" Kale slurred out with a small laugh. Somewhere off in the distance, a massive shockwave let off, and Kale was able to feel it more than he heard it. The thing caused his stomach to vibrate to the point that he almost started gagging, only to look up in time to see something silver bolting overhead.

"Piece o' shit," he sputtered out in recognition. The bolt's only response was to curve sharply into a zig-zag, avoiding a string of charged particle beams. After that, it spiraled about, went off course as if to grab something and then...

It was gone.

I guess the Fire really has begun again... Shadow mused with a weak voice, just before Kale felt his presence start to fade.

"Don' be pussin' out on me now, damnit," he ordered, though he didn't have enough authority left in him to convince the Organoid otherwise. In a matter of seconds, he heard the equivelent of a groan and then there was nothing. The presence in his mind was gone. The voice that had helped fuel his path of murder and destruction had gone disturbingly silent.

Shadow had fallen again.

Where his ancestor before him had been wracked over the same thing almost 240 years earlier though, Kale was left with little more than a hollow pit in his chest. It was already going numb by the time that he let out a sigh of his own.

"Wimp," he muttered, just before prying his hands from the controls. It felt almost as if the shocking had melted his gloves to both his skin and the Maxis' odd control systems, but if it did, he didn't bother looking down to see the damage. He felt his pilot's suit peel and tear in several places as he stood, lazily yanking his feet up from the floor and causing a layer or two of melted rubber to rip from the soles of his boots in the process. Consoles automatically began to dim and fade, even though they'd already begun to flicker with static. Deprived of Shadow, and still reeling from the lingering effects of battle on its systems, there was little the Maxis could do to even keep itself powered on.

"Open sessame, bitch," Kale ordered with a dull tone, even though the front screen had already faded away entirely. The hatch in front of him, crumbled in several places as it was, promptly pried itself apart, leaving the armored plate on top of that to fall open and then just plain fall off a second later. Without even bothering to look at the distance to the ground below, Kale followed suit, having the luck to land in half-melted grime rather than on the fallen plate.

Within a matter of seconds - seconds that felt like individual eternities for him - he had pried himself back up off the ground, dripping all over with sogging ash and melting snow as he took a few steps forward.

And that was when he heard it.

It was a sound loud enough that his ears would've throbbed even without all of his prior injuries. His heart skipped two or three beats from the shock of it, and his mind blindly raced to try and wrap itself around what, exactly, the sound was. At first, it resembled a furious roar from some kind of tyrannosaurian Zoid, and then it elevated into the high pitched echoes of an insane Whale King before dropping back down again. Regardless of what it was though, it had come from his left, and he knew, in that instant, that it was aimed at him.

Where Bit Cloud had all but suffered from a nervous breakdown though, Kale Obscura let out a dim chuckle instead, even though it hurt just to laugh at this point.

Without so much as a single word, he turned to face the source of the roaring, and as he did, his vision seemed to clear. The sight he was greeted with, however, was something that most people would've had nightmares about for years.

A black scaled serpentine dragon, coiling high into the skies above in the distance. He couldn't properly gauge its size at this range, and he doubt that he even would've wanted to try if he could, but its body seemed to go for miles and miles, with the tip of its tail dragging along the ground and kicking up what looked like a small storm beneath it. More so than anything else though, his eyes were drawn up to its face.

Across miles and miles of distance, dark brown eyes met with violently red ones that were easily a dozen or more times the size of his own Zoid. Kale's laugh almost immediately began to die down as he looked at the creature's face. It was long and broad, almost a cross between a canine and a crocodile in shape, favoring the former in the placement of its eyes. Its mouth was lined with two different rows of colossal razor sharp teeth on the top and bottom jaw. A pair of long whip-like tentacles wavered from the front of its snout, resembling a handlebar mustache. Lastly, a pair of gigantic horns crested up from the top back of his head, curling forward at the tips slightly.

For a long while, Kale stared at it, and it stared back.

And then, after what felt like it must have been an eternity, the King of Demons opened its jaws, a horrific white light gathering from the back of its mouth as lightning sparked from tooth to tooth. Its entire head was surrounded in a monstrous halo, and as Kale watched, he could actually feel his skin tingling even at this distance.

What followed was utterly inexplicable. It began as nothing but a shortlived chuckle, and then carried on into a morbid snicker before, finally, Kale burst into laughter that was as joyful as it was maniacal. He would've probably bent forward and even stumbled around from how hard the laughing was, but it hurt too much to even raise his hands at this point. With that though, he watched as the last ounces of power gathered, the halo imploding into a tight ring of energy in front of the beast's gaping mouth.

"You honestly think that's gonna get rid o' me?" He asked, still laughing. The slur in his voice was gone now.

The ring shattered into a million smaller bolts of lightning, each one arcing around a far larger, infinitely more intense beam of energy so bright that it was almost blinding just to look at.

"It's not even gonna stop me," he pointed out, even as the beam closed in. The shockwaves being let off by it at every mile were powerful enough to sheer the tops off of nearby mountains and force even the fighting to lull to a stop beneath the beam. "I'm God, after all," he laughed, just before finding the will to throw his arms up and to either side, regardless of the jolting pain it caused.

The beam came closer. Close enough that the world around him was turning a solid white and his own shadow extended as far back as a hundred feet.

"DO YOU HEAR ME?!" He demanded gleefully, with the beam now so close that his hair was starting to singe and his skin was beginning to char.


His vision ceased to exist as anything but a white wall.


His hearing cut out completely, blood rushing from his ears as his clothing caught fire and the grime around him vaporized.


Before he could even start laughing again, the air had been burned out of his lungs. A fraction of a nanosecond later, both he and the Maxis were bathed in light as the beam finally hit. Before the ground could even explode, Kale Obscura - the elder of two brothers, one of the worst mass murderers in recorded history and heir apparent to Raven's bloodlust - ceased to exist.

Asmodeus, the King of Demons, lived again.

Author's Note: ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! Sprays everything in sight with a plasma cannon. .

Anywho, hopefully this chapter lived up to every single ounce of planning and forethought I put into it.

Oh, and to everyone who thought Kale would get bitchstomped by Madison and Roc: HAHAHAHA :p Speaking as the author, the one who knows everything about this story, that fight could've gone in any way, and if Madison and Roc hadn't gone off when they did, Kale would've very likely killed both of them.

Hopefully the Vega Scenes held the perfect mixture of confusion, anxiety, shocked numbness and supreme violence as well.

And Asmodeus? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! >.> Yes people, that is the Demon King. And yes, it was practically lying under Bit's nose almost the entire time he's been in Nyx.

Next chapter is when we finally get around to Champton. Dear, loveable, soon-to-be-non-existent Champton. Oh, how I'll love burning her to the ground... Urinating on the ashes... Dumping sulfuric acid on it and then nuking it all into oblivion... Then carpet bombing the crater...

But anyway, as has been the case lately, replies to reviews can be found in a link on my FFN profile.

Sh33p out, folks.

Tides of Darkness by Sh33p

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