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Fate and Freedom XXIX: Edge of Darkness

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A strange place greeted the hunters and Descendants as the blackness they had been smothered by when they jumped into the Abyss had cleared. Large chunks of stone, all shaped like clockwork cogs, or clock hands, floated in cluttered heaps, as if gravity had been suspended, phosphroescent bluelight on their smooth, broken edges, as if it was slowly devouring the stonework. A large, round platform, made of the same drab stonework they had seen in Yukikaze, floated in the same purple space as everything else. In the middle of the vast expanse of entropy was Shinkaiyami, encased in a transparent violet forcefield. He floated with his legs very close together and his arms bent to the sides, with his claws curled around a ball of energy that was an even lighter shade of violet, the position of his body making him look similar to a "T". Thin strands of balck shadow curled and bent in from nowhere, seeping through the forcefield and into the ball of energy that the Wyrms was generating.

"He's powering up..." Makoto noted slowly, all gazing at the spectacle as if they'd already lost.

"Well then how do we stop him?" Mizu asked urgently.

"...Why don't we all blast him? Like, with our powers!" Roux said, lighting up as if it was a novel idea. Murmurs of approval resonated among the group, but Nina stayed silent and slowly closed her eyes, frowning ever so slightly, as if she was thinking their plan foolish.

Mizu let loose a stream of water, while Gigas loosed blots of searing flame and Altair produced a gust of wind from his left hand and a beam of dark shadows from his claqwed right hand. Makoto couldn't add her efforts as her power was earth, and she couldn't manipulate earth where there was none. The elements simply made contact with the shield, nothing more. They had no effect, and to boot, Shinkaiyami ignored their feeble efforts entirely, fervently focused on channeling the dark energies of his Abyss. The Descendants slowly and reluctantly ceased their efforts, sighing with frustration and disappointment.

"Our powers ain't doin' shit!" Gigas grunted, kicking his Agnablaster, which he had placed on the ground to fire his flames, aggressively, accidentally causing it to roll off the edge of the round platform and topple into the air around them. It fell for a while- but because of the force Gigas had kicked it with, not gravity- then floated impassivley.

"Your abilities will not dispell his shield, not even if I try: that forcefield is made of sterner stuff," Nina remarked solemnly. "Observe."

Nina outstrecthed her hand gently, aloowing tendrils of serene light to flow gently from her fingertips. They snaked their way to the shielding, then dissipated upon contact, the field unfazed.

"Our powers cannot breach this barrier. There is only one thing that can," Nina said flatly. All of a sudden, her next sentecne was interrupted as large clusters of Afflicted appeared in vblack puffs of smoke, littered around the large stone circuit.

"You must realize now that you cannot hope to stop me with your limited power," Shinkaiyami seethed confidently.

"Well, be that as it may..." Shinji murmured, "...There's no reason we can't try."

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The large (but considerably dimisnished) army of Kasai, Kyuuryuu, Chikyuu and the few remaining Sukai warriors jumped to attention, weapons at the ready, as countless Afflicted appeared before them, shrouding the shattered imperial city with dark ghouls. The remnants of the Abyssal Sanctum and the Ukanlos-clad infantry could be seen amidst the phantasms as well.

With nobody around to command them, the rebels went absolutely wild, charging valiantly the horde. The Gunners in the armies discarded their bows and bowguns absentmindedly and pulled out combat knives and the like. The artillery batteries all turned from the broken citadel and fired upon the black masses thinning the numbers as best they could.

Despite the rebels' efforts, the Afflicted were overrunning them. Their sheer numbers were quickly overwhelming the hapless hunters, and most of those swamped by the vicious wraiths joined their ranks (the rest died). The Afflicted slowly gained ground, lurching toward the artillery batteries. The front line rebels packed tight together to form a wall, but without shields to defend themselves with, this tactic quickly grew stale and the defense was pierced, with more casualties and coversions alogn the way. Allot of these Afflicted were tougher,stronger, and allot faster than the initial waves from earlier, and those alpha-male-ish Afflicted quickly banded together, tearing through the fray and attacking the heavy guns, bringing two fo the seven cannons to a stop, the operators slain. There were many more who could replace the fallen operators, but there would be little chance of them getting back to the guns without dying, nevermind actually keeping them active. Anyway, the Abyssal Sanctum remnants acted swiftly to destroy the overrun guns, shattering them beyond repair with their dark abilities.

Mired in bloodshed, the rebels hoped to whatever deity they believed in, even though most in this land felt that the gods had abandoned them, that they would see the light of dawn...and freedom.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Shinji and Jinsoku, realizing the futility of Gunner weapons in this situation, discarded their bows carelessly and drew katana's from their belts. Longer than a knife, but it was no sword. Perfect for this situation, especially when there were Descendants on hand to back them up if they got swamped.

The couple, along with a Power Juice-powered Skylar, dived blades first into the swarm of sinister Afflicted, black shadows spilling from their grievous wounds like blood, before they turned to ash in death.

"Don't stop, don't be precise!" Shinji yelled over the guttral growls of the afflicted and the whiny humming of the ball of dark energy that Shinkaiyami was birthing from within the safe confines of his shield. "Just slash and run!"

Jinsoku and Skylar did as she said, and as a result of their reckless abandon the Afflicted were quickly cut down, and in great numbers too.

Meanwhile, Gigas, Mizu and Altair were sprinting aroudn the other side of the stone circuit, letting loose a relentless blasts of fire, water, wind and darkness from their palms, not even giving time for the afflicted to attack or even defend (though they probably weren't smart or durable enough to withstand the supernatural blasts regardless). Mizu, who was closest to the edge of the stone platform, scanned the purple forcefield with his eyes. Shinkaiyami was powering up, and not at any leisurely rate either. If they didn't take that shield down soon, there'd be hell to pay. Not for them, but for the rebels back in Yukikaze. Suddenly, they saw it flicker. Shinkaiyami didn't react however (if he did he'd lose his focus and the energy he was building up would dissipate). They looked back to where they had first arrived briefly to see Nina, still stanidn passively, here eyes closed. Wispy strands of ephemeral white light flowed around her, slowly flexing in different directions, with miniscule, glittering specks of light around her. Whatever she was doing, it was working, and fast.

"Yeah, that's right, assholes! Go back to wherever the hell y'all sonofabitchin' came from!" Gigas boomed, laughing with glee in the heat of battle as he watched the slowly dissolving bodies of the Afflicted float away below the stone platform.

Suddenly, all stopped, and face the shield, as Shinkaiyami spoke one more. They anticipated more hostility, as tiny specks of hsi shield were fading, as if a Vespoid's wing was disintergrating. It flickered more sporadically now.

"You humans sought a Wyrm. You shall have him," he said evenly. He didn't move, but more afflicted appeared, though this time there were dog-like one siwth the humanoids, black, spiky, corpselike hounds with hellish crimson eyes, and flaming ribcages. They ran in swarms at Nina, who was working to disable his shield. Unable to channel her light and defend her self at the same time, she allowed the light aura around her to release, channeling it outward toward the Afflicted that scapered toward her, turning them to ash in the blink of an eye. However, she had lost her focus, and Shinkaiyami's shield returened to normal. They heard him laugh deeply as Nina summoned the hunters to gather around her. With no hostiles left, they ran to her without worry.

"What is it?" Roux asked- she had been stadning by some rubble that was wedged to the platform, watching in case a strong enemy advanced on the girl.

"There is not the time for me to build up that energy again. I could have shattered the shield in a few minutes, if not for those wretched wraiths..." Nina sighed with frustration and melancholy, turning her back to the group, as if accosted, or contemplating something. "But desperate times call for desperate measures," she added firmly. She turned on her heel to face the hunters once again.

"I am going to have to do something, and you will not like it," Nina said plainly, but with a slight tinge of foreboding in her voice. They watched as she began to glow with light, which seemd to consume her form. At first they were alwarmed, but they relaxed as a balls of pure, bright light floated in the air, about the size of a cannonball. It quickly separated into seven more equally sized balls of light.

"No, don't!" Altair snapped. "Stop!"

Suddenly, Shinkaiyami's growl echoed around the Abyss, and countless Afflicted, humanoid and dog-like, appeared around the stone circuit.

"Quickly, each of you, assimilate me! I will be protected. You must target Shinkaiyammi;s shield when I say!" Nina' voice snapped from the balls of light, each speaking in perfect harmony. One by one, the hunters touched the speheres which flashed and them dissapeared.

They each turned to face the horde of phantoms, with iron resolve and courage tougher than steel. Each of the non-Descendants drew their weapons.

This was the way the fate of the world would be decided.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The soldiers' numbers were diminishing rapidly by the minute. New forms of Afflicted had appeared, dog-like wraiths with hellish red eyes and ribcages burning with flames, and countless murders of large demonic, bird-like creatures that cawed like vultures (and were about the same size too), swooping down in swarms at unsuspecting soldiers, easilty ripping through steel and flesh alike. Luckily, the Gunners had the sense to scramble back to retrieve their discarded bows and bowguns admist the calamitous crisis, or the airborne mencaes would be tough to kill. The Sky Village ninjas also proved effective against the flying demons, throwing their kunais and paralyzing throwing knives with impeccable pinpoint accuracy.

However, these terrors of the sky were as cunning as the creatures they resembled, and they quickly learned to target the ones with the irritating knives. It wasn't long before the few remaining Sukaian forces were cut down at the claws of the airborne Afflicted, eliminating the proud green stroke from the rebel mass.
Halo 4 OST - 12 11707:30

Halo 4 OST - 12 117

Rebels vs the Afflicted theme

The rebels' misfortune did not end there. Three substantially large Rathaloses appeared in shrouds of black mist. their eyes a sickeningly frightful evrmillion and their normally read bodies encrusted with pitch black, spiky hide. They had clearly been converted. It seemd that mosnters had a higher resistance to the conversion though, as it only covered the majority of their bodies, not all of their bodies. The artillery remaining artlierry guns immediately commence fire upon the three tenbrous Flying Wyverns, but were soon stopped when the huge, otherwordly violet balls of fire ejected from the Rathaloses' open jaws and hurtled toward the guns, smashign them to pieces upon collision, impaling, Afflicted, imperial and rebel alike with huge steak-like pieces of broken wood, like shrapnel from a grenade. The Rathaloses then roared harmoniously, but the normally proud, bestial roar was distorted, and sounded more like a cry of pained anguish.

And, to top it all off, Rakurai was stuck in the middle of this mess, still angrily swiping at Kazir with his Legendary Fatalis Sickle. Kazir sharlp blocked each swipe with his sword, which sent bolts of searing, riveting cold down the artificial Descendant's spine, although it didn't affect him like it did the others: he was an Ice Descendants after all. Kazir seemed to act as if the battle hadn't taken its tooll on him, on perfect form, even though his smart military clothing was ripped and frayed, his sword bloddied with the lives of many, and his short-cropped blonde hair dirtied with ash, earth and flecks of dried blood. He casually kicked his human adversary to the ground, and stamped on his stomach with his boot, kneeling down simultaneously the look the boy in the eye.

"Well, you wanted to meet your maker, and now that you have, it's time for you to toddle along and die. But before I say sayonara...I've got something I've just been itching to ask you," Kazir chirped with shrill excitement. He leaned in closer and hissed in the teenager's ear.

"Did she feel it when she died? That oh-so invigorating cold...I bet she just couldn't get enough, could she? Did she scream, shriek and cry? Or did she just die the boring way and curl up in a warm bed full of candles in a nice comfortable bed?"

Rakurai's eyes widened with rage. He roared and pushed the imperial off of him, brining his Long Sword to bear, and swinging it into Kazir's blade, not enough to break it, but more than enough to knock it away, sending it flying into the nearest wall, where it stayed stuck like an arrow in a human's head.

"SHUT UP, SHUT UP, JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!" he screamed. He roared with finality as he flung the scythe-like Long Sword into Kazir's side, with so much force that Kazir let out a yell and fell to one knee. Rakurai, pluged his plam into the ground, forming huge ice stalagmites upon the ground, freezing Kazir inside one. He then snapped his fingers and the ice shattered like an explosion. Kazir's slightly bloodied body lay in place, eyes closed.

Rakurai was so distraiught and angry that he didn't even bother to pick up his sword, and simply ran away toward the hordes of shadowy Afflicted ahead, eager to finally see freedom after eleven years.

He didn't even notice Kazir rise and limp weakly toward his sword, wrench it from the wall, glare hatefully at him from behind, and dissapear in a bright azure flash.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

More Afflicted were sppedily dispatched as the hunters fough their way around the extremely wide stone circle, desperate to bring down the shield; they were running out of time fast.

"This place will be your tomb," Shinkaiyami hissed mirthlessly. Almost as if in response to Shinkaiyami's words, a nearby Afflicted hound yowled ferally and leapt at Makoto, latching onto her throat, severing her artery. She cried out in brief shock, before the hound shifted his head from side to side, as if trying to rip the young womans head off, snapping her neck in the process and allowing her limp corpse to drop to the floor lifelessly, her eyes wide open, blood pooling from the deep, savage teeth marks in her neck. Every one seemed to cry out with anger and shock all at once, but Skylar's innocent scream rang the loudest. The girl had alway known happiness; for a motherly, sheltering and gentle figure like Makoto to be struck down so coldly, so callously, was something she had never experienced. Until now. She howled with grief, sprinting through the Afflicted with newfound strength from her grief. It was unnatural, but nothing that any Sky Village ninja couldn't do. She left a fair few behind, but Altair quickly vanquished them with headshots from his pistol, watching with cold grief as they turned to ash before his eyes.
Halo 4 OST - Arrival (Full)05:35

Halo 4 OST - Arrival (Full)

Theme- Destroying the shield (battle in the Abyss)

"Here is fine! Face your palm toward the shield, Skylar!" Nina shouted from within her consciousness, (and everyone else's, since she was all of the balls of light they had assimilated). Skylar did as Nina commanded, and a beam of pure light burst from her outstretched palm, hitting the shield dead-on. It did nothing.

"Don't expect any results; one is not enough, hence why I split myself apart. The rest of you, vanquaish these foul scourges and follow Skylar's lead!" Nina ordered.

Gigas quickly bashed his way through the Afflicted, not even bothering to draw his Dancing Hellfire. The flames he ignited upn contact did the job, however, WIth his patch of ground cleared, Gigas thrust his palm out, the same beam of light ejecting from it, like Skylar. The shield flickered once, then maintained itself.

"Pointless," Shinkaiyami snapped bluntly. His energy balls was growing ever stronger. It wasn't bigger, but it was glowing more, and strands of darkness seeped from the purple expanse of the Abyss and into the ball of energy. He was drawing raw power fom the abyss now, a sign that the energy was close to full power.

Frantic to break the shield, Mizu decided to try something ambitious.

"Nina...you said that drinking from the Lake of Eternity unlocked my true potential, right?" he asked.

"Quite so," Nina replied.

"Well then I'm about to put that potential to good use."

Mizu sheated his weapon and let loose a torrent of water from his hands, in the shape of a long, Wyrm-like figure, he guided it with his hands, sweeping it the whole way around the cirit, then lowered his arms. a huge waterfall spanning the entire perimeter of the circuit fell into place behind him and his comrades, blocking the remaining Afflicted. The other hunters raised their plms, and light beams projected from them, colliding with Shinkaiyami's forcefield. It was broken and it flcikered sporadically, but it was still intact. They needed one more person. Then it dawned on them.

"Hang on a sec...where the hell'd Enshi go?!" Gigas blurted out. In the heat of the depserate battle, the friends had forgotten about him completely. Suddenly, a bright spiral of flames appeared next to Mixu, and from them emerged Enshi, as if uttering his name had sommoned him fromt he aether.

"Apologies for my tardiness, our friend Shinkaiyami here placed me a second out of sync with the rest of you. Cracking the temporal combination was a qute a test on my old arithmetic, you know," Enshi said archly. The others smiled. A beam of slow, seren lgiht drifted ito Enshi chest, and dissapeared. Enshi, as if the air had told him too, raised his palm, and one final beam of light burst out. It hit the beaten and broken shield, shattering it at last. Even though it was made of energy, pieces of it fell away as if it were smashed glass, before dissipating like mist a few seconds later.

But it was not to be.

"Too little, too late, I'm afraid," Shinkaiyami said flatly. He thrust his arms away, unleashing the ball of dark energy, which trvalled upwward, the way he and his enemies had entered the Abyss.

"You have failed, Descendants. The Divine Maelstrom is reborn. Live...or rather, die...knowing that you came so close to victory, and tripped at the last hurdle. You held glimmering freedom in the palm of your hand, and you lost it. Thus is the fate of humanity," Shinkaiyami said with woeful triumph. He raied his arms archaically, as a huge beam of violet light burst into life, the dark Wyrm in the midst of it, but not destroyed. It strecthed all the way up and down further than the eye could see.

Suddenly, a white portal appeared as the hunters regrouped sorrowfully.

"Quickly! Into the portal!" Nina's voice echoed from nowhere. As Mizu stepped forward, she spoke again.

"Wait!" she snapped quickly.

"What is it?" Mizu enquired, perplexed.

"I...I need you to stay. Only you have to resolve to face Shinkaiyami. If he falls, the Divine Maelstrom will have no point of origin, and will cease to be. Only Shinkaiyami's death can save humanity now. Will you do this?" Nina said with eh utmost seriousness. Mizu paused for a moment, the others hangin on his verdict.

"...I'll do it."

"Very well. Take this, my blessing to you. You cannot defeat Shinkaiyami without it."

A wave of light, similar to that which seepd into Enshi, faded as it touched Mizu's chest. All of a sudden, he felt stronger, wiser, and msot of all...braver.

The others stepped through the portal, Shinji and Jinsoku quickly running back to pick up their dropped bows, wishing him luck as they returned to fight the dark demons at the end of days.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Gale glowered at Korifubuki (which is what she called him, seeing as it was apprently his real name), her Lost Black Katana by her side. Her Kirin X helmet had fallen off somewhere as she fought the Afflicted, her long hair hanging down. The ice Wyrm stared at her silently, as if waiting for her to start a conversation.

"What do you want?" She asked him sourly. He chuckled briefly.

"You know what I want. But I suppose I'll recap," he began. "What I want, Gale, is to sail through this world upon the Divine Maelstrom, removing this acerbic infection called humanity, and reseed my race. My brothers will return, and our world shall once again be ours. Of course, not all of them agreed with Shinkaiyami's efforts before, so there will have to be some...reforms...but not before I ride my storm to the ends fo the earth, crunching human flesh and bone beneath me. Oh, look; perfect timing," he added, before raising his arm to the sky, as the dark winds blanketed the city. The storm circled like a whirlpool where he had raised his hand, as if he was manipulating it.

"What about our lives? Our freedom?" Gale snapped, pointing her sword at the Wyrm.
Final Fantasy VII Sephiroth Theme Song Advent Children Version06:33

Final Fantasy VII Sephiroth Theme Song Advent Children Version

Gale vs Korifubuki (White Star) theme (#2)

"Well..." Korifubuki murmured, "...that's up to you, Gale."

The Windweaver and the White Star leapt at each other, and with a clash of steel against steel, their last battle began.

It was as it was when she last faced him at Hikari, the City of Light, under these same circumstances. Although this time it was different; the end was not nigh, it really had come. Even if she killed Korifubuki, it wouldn't stop what was happening. It was starnge to think that one could reach out and literally feel the all-encompasing arms of death. It frightened her. But her resollve was mightier than her baser instincts.

She blocked the incoming swipe of Korifubuki's crimson muramasa, slashign back at him with a low sweep, as if to trip the Wyrm up. Her nemesis backstepped swifly, an air of smug overconfidence about him. But his hubris would be his end, just as it was last time. At least, so Gale hoped.

The White Star wasted no time in orchestrating a counterattack, unleashing a flurry of swift, deft and elegant swordsman ship upon the girl, cutting her in couple of places. This blade wasn't like Kazir's one; it didn't make you feel like a thousand tundras had been dropped upon you. This was worse. With every strike, against metal or flesh, she felt her strength and vitality wilt, as if it was feeding on her blood, like a vampire. Korifubuki struck again, so hard that Gale's last-chance block was deflected, her body relling to the side and onto one knee to absord the shock of the recoil, following which the Frozen Dictator lept into the air at about average jumping height, slahing as he descended. The attack cut clean through Gale knocking her away with a sharp cry, blood congealing on the Wyrm's murmasa and spilling into the open air briefly, before splattering onto the stone floor, mixing in with the scattered rubble and dirt. She landed in a crumple heap against some rubble. The cut she had received was nowhere near fatal, but it felt devastating. His sword must've been amplifying the effect of the damage she took, and felt.

Gale scrambled to her feat, grunting under her breath and wincing with the sting of the pain, which lingered hauntingly like a bad memory. She couldn't allow herself time for a respite, though; she was sure that such? a luxury was unfeasble in this situation anyhow. She loosed a gargantuan blast of wind at the unsuspecting Wyrm, ensnaring him it its embrace and flinging him aggressively into the nearest, biggest and toughest-looking wall with a strained grunt. She covered her eyes briefly as she heard the bricks shatter and fall on one another, waiting for the dense cloud to settle. When she pulled her arm slowly, cautiously away, nothing was in sight, But she knew he wouldn't be dead. It was a strong move, but not nearly enough to fell a Wyrm.

She waited. And waited. And waited.

Just as she began to actually believe that he was truly dead, Korifubuki sprang out of the shadows and speared into Gale with his muramasa. She had just enough time to block before the attack hit, knocking her far but not killing or cutting her. She ran forward to attack, but she once again heard the dissapoiting *cling!* of blade on blade. She pulled out all the stops and performed the best fancy swordwork she could without losing her balance or co-ordination but it was no match for Korifubuki's mastery of the sword. He countered every near hit and blocked every sharp stirke, even managing to cut Gale some more in the process. Finally, she grew imaptient, she growled, and tripped the Wyrm up with a dropkick, forcing him to one knee. She howled with exasperation and irritation as she slammed her Lost Black Katana down on his sword like an axe, over and over and over again until she finally batted his arm out of the way, following which he grunted with surprise and the slight sting of the recoil, and hit him harshy in the skull with the butt of her weapon, drawing blood and knocking him over, concussing him briefly. She followed it up with another non-physical attack, again attacking with the gale-force wind that projected from her hands, but this time the Wyrm had wisened up to her schemes. He blocked the oncoming wind with his hand, dissipating it instantly. He raised his sword arm summoned a huge pillar of ice appeared behind him, almost piecercing the clouds. He then shattered it without moving, and raised his sword arm high once again. As he did so, every single piece of shattered ice that had just broken apart came to his call, surging forward like a swarm of bees, headed straight for Gale. She quickly dived behind one of the few intact walls as the huge storm of sharp little ice pieces collided with it, scattering past her in the wind or stopping as they met with the wall. Even though she couldn't see the abhorrent creatures face, she was sure that he scowled angrily at his missed attack.

As she heard Korifubuki's footsteps patter toward her, she flung herself from behind the wall and once again her blade locked with his, and once again she experienced that strange sensation of fatigue and loss of life force. She was growing tired, but not from normal exhaustion. It was his sword. The Wyrm smiled smugly from behind his blade.

"Well, aren't you the persistent one," he mused in his low sotto voce voice. Gale glowered at him hatefully.

"Look who's talking; you can't just stay dead, can you?" she retorted contrarily. He huffed with the same smugness as his thin smile.

"The only ones that deserve to be dead is your fithy kind."

"Same old, same old. Don't you ever get bored of that old? song and dance?"

"I get bored of wasting precious time trying to remove obstacles like you from my agenda."

"Ditto, asshole."

Gale could feel her arms beginning to ache. She couldn't hold her sword in place for much longer, she heard the steel creak and felt her muscles pulsing with exhaustion and overuse. Pressing against Korifubuki's strength-sapping sword was quickly becoming an effort of insurmountable magnitude.

"You...can't...win..." she wheezed, gritting her teeth as the crimson slice of death moved slowly closer to her face, so much so that she could clearly see her face in the reflection of its glass-like sheen. Finally, she let go, unable to hold on any longer, the blade smashed into her with brutal and unprecedented force, sending her tumbling into a moderately large pile of rubble in a hollowed out building with a harsh feminine cry.

The White Star slowly paced forward a few steps with cautious, patient slowness, his sword impassive by his side. As Gale did not emerge for the mountain of rubble (and the cloud of dust her impact upon it had created), he raised the crimson blade up horizontally and level with his face, and charged forward, his quick but balanced footsteps sounding like rainfall.

Suddenly, as in response to the impending offense, Gale burst out of the rubble, her Lost Black Katana at the ready, surrounded by? a green light. She too charged forth at her adversary, meeting his blade for yet another clash of swordsmanship. Her first strike was deflected immediatel, but as he recoiled she swung the blade sideways, as if to cut the Wyrm in two. Korifubuki shifted his blade frm diagonally down to diagonally up, blocking the hit with yet another show of deft skill. Finally, Gale povoted and came back with a slam, to which the White Star responded by positioning his wrists to point his weapon vertically down, sparks flying off of the clash that ensued.

Gale then decided to try something abitious, she leapt back a few metres with her wind abilities, then used the same powers to launch herself into the air at her enemy, roaring a battle sry as he raised her sword above her head, prepared to smite the ice Wyrm. Korifunuki smiled slyly from the corner of his mouth, before thrusting his sword out in her trajectory like a lance, spearing her in the chest, causing her to scream out in pain and surprise. He kept still, letting the hapless girl dangle from the end of his sword like a fish on a hook, her legs dangling in midair as she squirmed to free herself, gritting her teeth to bear the pain as she gripped the sword so hard that her knuckled went white, desperately trying to pry herself free as a small stream of deep red blood slowly lurched down the flat of the blade. Amazingly, the wound was not fatal- she wouldn't be around to scream and struggle otherwise. She would've counted herself lucky, were it not that she was utterly at the White Star's mercy.

"Is this the pain you felt before? When your world was stolen from you and you discovered that the people you cared about were gone?" Korifubuki began monotonely, watching the girl struggle like a fish out of water. "Let me remind you. This time, I assure you you won't forget."

On that chilling note, he thrust her high into the air, and into the dark cloud of the Divine Maelstrom. He then leapt up the follow his prey. When he drew close, her was forced to block one weak attack- despite her injuries, Gal still had some fight left in her. He then proceeded to jab his sword into the girl all over her body like a spear, each slice sounding as sharp as a Nargacuga's wings through the air, spurts of blood bursting out briefly, caught by the wind and either being carried along by the storm or falling back down to the ground. One last jab sent the sword straight through her leg- vertically, to boot- causing her to scream with agony, a scream which was extended when her assailant thrust his blade, still embedded in Gale's leg back down, fliging the girl into freefall, she managaed to use her powers to break her fall, but quickly fell to her knnews afterward, crippled by the riveting pain and the exhaustion inflicted upon her by both Korifubuki's unnatural balde and natural causes. She grunted and panted with pain- the wounds she had just received were superficial, more or less, but they hurt like hell. She barely registered the blood that was quickly pooling around her, seeping from her open wounds and cuts, further draining her. Korifubuki levitated high above, watching her from afar like a solemn adjudicator.

"Tell me what you cherish most. Give me the pleasure of taking it away," he? purred wryly, before speeding through the air toward her, sword at the ready.

Gale's life flashed before her eyes, and then everything went white.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The hordes of Afflicted "crawlers"-as the rebels had dubbed them-surged across the broken battlefield outside the shattered citadel, yowling with twisted pride as they sank their crude fangs into countless soldiers, making them cry out as the virulent conversion-causing venom coursed through their veins, turning them into what they were trying to destroy.

Jinsoku? watched the nearest humanoid Afflicted gurgle briefly and? defeatedly as he loosed an arrow from his? Narga bow, piercing the creature's brain and killing it instantaneously. Shinji stood against his back, rapidly loosing volleys of arrows with her Barioth bow. They were downing a fair few of the ghouls but more converted rebels? just replaced them.

"Ugh, this is hopeless! We're totally fucked!" Jinsoku sighed angrily.

"GODDAMMIT!!!" Gigas roared with ire, loosing a reletnless stream of fire upon the wall of black phantoms before him, slwoly walking forward and shouting at allies to move out of the way, cutting a path through the sea of black to reach the three Afflicted Rathaloses, which stampeded through the yonder section of the warzone, violet fireballs galore. But even so, more and more rebels were being converted, mostly by the Crawlers. The airborned Afflicted were more nuisances than threats. They took down a fair few warriors but most of them were dead now, and they wouldn't repopulate because the only hosts available were human.

Shinji and Jinsoku looked ahead at the three shadowy Flying Wyverns. Shinij arched her neack back to call Altair, Skylar and Enshi to attention.

"Come on! Forget these small fries, we need to take down those Wyverns!" she boomed. The comrades quickly regrouped and charged through the battlefield to fall in behind Gigas' wall of fire, slowly approaching
Halo 4 OST - "Faithless" 0505:09

Halo 4 OST - "Faithless" 05

Theme- vs Afflicted Rathalos

? the trio of dark monsters. As they approached, one fo the Rathaloses noticed them and roared, it's crimson eyes glowering, standing out in contrast to its mostly black body. It them reared itself up briefly and charged at the wall of fire, screeching hoarsely as it did so.

"Allow me!" Altair shouted as the group evaded the attack, blasting a wave of concentrated shadow at the Rathalos as it passed them by.? The Rathalos schreeched louder as the darnkess slammed into its side, winding it and knocking it aside. It slowly scrambled to its feet once again, and rared it's head back and fired another searing ball of purple fire at the hunters, who quickly dived to either side to advoid the attack. However, the splash damaged after the initial blast has a substantially larger radius, and Altair, Skylar and Enshi were blown away a short distance further, rolling over in the earth. As they slowly picked themselves up, Shinji rapidly fired countless arrows from her bow, all? smothered with lethal? Fire Coating. Alas, most of the arrows just bouned off the seemingly rock hard Afflicted hide. However, a few of the arrows sunk in to the few remaining red patches of the Rathalos' skin, making it shriek mildly at both the smarting of the arrows and the minor burning of the Fire Coating. Jinsoku had been holding his arrow back for extra potency, its razor-sharp tip loaded with Poison Coating. He finally lossed it as the Rathalos was flinching, the arrow travelling straight and true, embedding itself in the creatures right eye. The Rathalos flug it's neck (and by extension, its head) back and roared with pain and distress, shaking it wildly, desperate to removed the cruel stick from its eye. When the thing finally came loose, it roared again, this time so very, very loud that the nearby flying Afflicted fell out of the sky dead the narby Crawlers writhed with pain and the rebel soldiers close enough covered their ears and growled with the pain. Shinji, Jinsoku, Gigas and Altair all pressed their hands against their ears protectively, despite their high grade earplugs. Skylar, however, had no earplugs at all, and screamed with pain as the roar pierced her hearing like a knife, small drops of blood trickling from beneath her hands (her only protection against the noise), trickling down the sides of her face. She fell to her knees, tears streaming down her cheeks and sharp cries being yelled from her mouth. Enshi, who seemed to be unaffected (most likely a trait of the original Descendants), rushed over to scoop her up in his arms as the roar finally ceased.

"I will take care of her!" he bellowed, leaving her dropped Dual Blades behind as he teleported away. The remaining hunters and Descendants regained focus on the Rathalos, whose eyes were now a bright violet. Also, it's Afflicted hide glowed a dim red, to clear signs that the monster was enraged. It stampeded forth at the comrades with aggressive movements and ire-droiven speed, barreling into Jinsoku along the way, chucking him high into the air and back down again in a heap. His bow landed by his side, but the string was snapped and most of the arrows were broken. He gazed upon it for a moment, then drew his katana from his side and scrambled to his feet, sprinting after the angry beast.

Shinji backstepped out of the way as the Afflicted Rathalos stomped past her in a beeline for Altair, firing as many fire-coated arrows as she could from her bow. The sting from the arrows and their fire was finally too much for the Flying Wyvern, as it stopped in its tracks, craning its neck around to glower as Shinji hatefully, before pivoting it's body and charging at her instead. She quickly fumbled for more arrows from her quiver but it was empty. "Shit," she? cursed under her breath, before discarding her weapon and quiver and diving out of the way as the Rathalos rushed past its target. But the Flying Wyvern wasn't having any of it this time. As it ground to a halt a couple of metres behind Shinji, it twisted around on the soft earth with ease and flapped it's wings to gain air before loosing a purple fireball at the girl, simultaneously rising into the air as it did so. The ball hit the Agnaktor-armoured nineteen-year old head-on, scorching her armour and throwing her far away, small violet embers still flickering on her armour as she tumbled across the ground, finally coming to a halt right infront of a fairly larger-than-average Afflicted Crawler. The hellhound clung onto the hapless Shinji, opened its jaw and lunged forward with its fangs, its evil red eyes glowering at the girl with trimphant spite. She grabbed its top and bottom jaws with her left and right hands, grunting as the forced them further apart. The formerly proud and triumpahnt Crawler whined with pain and distress, then finally let out a short, sharp yelp before being silenced as Shinji finally snapped it's jaws apart, the broken face of the dog-like beast slumping onto her abdomen, it's entire body flacing, the orange flames on its bony ribcage extinguished, its entire body flaccid. She pushed the hefty lump off of her and stood up, drawing a katana from her belt for a weapon, and rushing back in the direction of the Rathalos.

Altair fired rapid shots from his metal, squarish four-barrelled pistol, the now shadow-coated bullets embedding themselves into the creatures hide, making it hiss with pain as it? fired more violet fire as the Lagiacrus-clad Kyuuryuu soldiers below it, who jabbed and prodded feebly at the beasts with their ivory spears.? It turned in the air to face Altair, then flapped it wings like a chicken and lunged forward with its poisonous claws, screeching quietly as it did so. Altair flung his ghoulish right arm across his body, as if to backhand th beast, a wall of smoke-like darkness barring his body from the strike. As the creatures claws scraped the darkness, it shrieked ferally as pain bolted through its legs. It flapped it wings rapidly and drew back protectively, shielding it's body from further harm. It then rose higher in the air, and drew it's wings across its body like a bat, then slamme its podlike form down on the soldier below it, a circular purple shockwave surging forward as far as the eye could see, bowling everyone in sight-Afflicted and human alike-over and utterly obliterating the soldiers in had slammed down upon. It then unfurled it's leathery black wings and stood firmly in place, gazing around at the many other people who still fought around? the site of impact.? Suddenly its fierce gaze locked onto one person in the immediate area who was still standing- Gigas. The wall of shimmering fire had hand placed around him dissiapted, and he began to sprint toward the Rathalos, who, too angry and surprised to do much else, rapidly fired more violet fireballs at the man. The Descendant simply batted them out of the way with his arms, using them like shields to deflect the incoming projectiles, finally, as the Rathalos turned to fly away, Gigas lept into the air and pulled out his Dancing Hellfire Long Sword, stabbinh it into the creatures back to latch onto it as if tried to escape. The Flying Wyvern shrieked and snarled at the lengthy blade slic einto it's body, causing extreme pain coupled with the burning sensation of the blade's Fire element, enhanced by Gigas' innate fiery abilities. He held tighly onto the handle of his blade with his left hand as he crawled forward, firing bursts of flame at the mosnter's face. It yowled with rage and annoyance, then swerved in the air, turning back toward the citadel in an attempt to shake the middle-aged fighter off of it, but to no avail. Gigas drew a throwing knife from his belt, and lobbed it as hard as he could at the creatures head, The knife sharply sliced into the Rathalos' skull, making it fall limp immediately. It fell diagonally, falling down but still whoosing forward through the air.

This was perfect.

Gigas willed the body toward the citadel...in the hope to smash the creature directly into the Abyss. He set several small explosives he carried with him onto the creatureds back. When he had set them all, he carefully set them alight with his Descendants flames, which were unextingusihable except by a water Descendant. As he passed over the front of the citadel, where there was till one working artlillery gun being defended by almost all of the rebels in that area, he called down to it as loud as his voce would allow.

"HEEEEEEY! TURN THAT THING AROUND AND BLOW THIS MOTHERFUCKER UP!" he roared with unprecedented loudness. Amazingly, the operator must've heard him, because the gun slowly but surely rotated, and fired upon the Rathalos as it approached the citadel. Gigas had no time to plan an escape, and so put his faith in lady luck and took a leap of faith, jumping off of the creature, leaving his Long Sword behind. As the Rathalos collided with the citadel, the gargantuan cannon ball made contact with it, igniting an explosion of bliding and defeaning proportions. As the huge wave of fire surged toward Gigas, he closed his eyes and hoped for the best.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Mizu slashed at Shinkaiyami for what felt like the thousandth time, the illlusion fading away each time. He was panting and sweating, tired of chasing shadows.

"You look oh-so very tired, boy. Why don't you just give in? Close your eyes and embrace eternal slumber..." Shinkaiyami whispered temptingly from everywhere. Suddenly, Shinkaiyami's form appeared before Mizu once again. As he prepared to swipe at the illusion once again, he was startled by an explosion.

The large beam of energy that had been humming away in the centre of the Abyss since he began this hipeless ordeal had been undone somehow, a huge ball of purple fire, slapshing out in all directions, shattering the floating stone nearby and slacing into part of the stone circuit. It never reached him though, dissipating before it reached his side of the platform. He heard Shinkaiyami laugh throatily.

Suddenly, everything fell silent again. Mizu slowly took a few baby steps forward, scanning his surroundings carefully for signs of the Abyssal Sovereign. He then once again heard the Wyrm's smug voice.

"You may have stopped the energy beam, but it matters not. The Divine Maelstrom has already made it's roots in this world. What? you have been? told? is wrong; destroying the Abyss will not stom the storm, only my Afflicted. You may not have to fight to the death, but you will die nonetheless. There is no power that can stop that storm. But you are welcome to try."
Darksiders Soundtrack Battle with Abaddon03:34

Darksiders Soundtrack Battle with Abaddon

Mizu vs Shinkaiyami theme

Suddenly, Shinkaiyami descended from nowhere and hovered infront of him, his long barbed blade at the ready.

"Come then, Descendant. Have your resolution," he growled. As Mizu raised hsi blade to attack, the Wyrm batted him away with a blast of shadow, sending the boy sliding across the floor. Mizu quickly recovered and slashed at his oppeonent once more, the evil dictator not simply blocking like Korifubuki, but attacking to defend, blocking his enemy's attacks with more attacks. His weapon sliced past Mizu's face, cutting his cheek a little. a couple of small drops of blood trickling from the open wound. Mizu grabbed the sword with his free hand as it passed by his face, yanking the Wyrm forward and headbutting him harshly, then? drawing a knife as the malevolent spectre tried regain his co-ordination, stabbing it fiercely into the Wyrm's shoulder. Shinkaiyami barked with annoyance and backhanded the Descendant aside and onto the floor. He then slammed his blade onto the ground at Mizu, who rolled over to avoid it. He the rolled in the opposite direction as Shinkayami picke dit up and slammed it down again. He repeated this process a few more times before Shinkayami grew angry and stabbed the sword into the ground instead. Mizu avoided this as well, the blade piercing the ground. As Shinkayai struggled to wrech it out, he ran into the Wyrm bowling them? him over, almost over the edge (they were so close to it),a nd cauign him to slip over,a lthough the Wyrm saved himself my latchign his claws to the rim of the stonework at the last moment. Mizu then whcked his blade against Shinkaiyami's, over and over and over and over again, until he broke the weapon in two,? one half on the blade staying stuck in the ground, and the other half (the part with the handle)? flying away into the expanse.? Shinkaiyami finally hauled himself up again and fired a bolt of shadow at the boy, toppling him over. The now unarmed Abyssal Sovereign stalked toward his prey, firing more bolts of shadow as he scrambled to get away, he eventually caught hold of him, grabbing him by the throat and lifting him off of the ground, his piercing red eyes boring into Mizu's sapphire eyes.

"How pathetic," Shinkaiyami sighed, almost sadly. "Right at the very end, your so-called friends abandon you to fight a bigger battle, and even still their precious army is withering beneath my Afflicted, and you are at my disposal. The age of man is over. You have lost, Mizu Nagare."

Mizu sated hatefully at the Wyrm, still holding him, but not tight enough to choke him.

"You're...not immortal, y'know. I can...still kill you," Mizu croaked, the Wyrm beginnng to choke him a little.

"Oh, please. You are alone, and unarmed. What makes yout hink you have any hope of victory now?" Shinkayami huffed dismissively. Suddenly, the nineteen-year-old's body glowed with white light.

"Because he is not alone," Nina's defiant voice echoed from nowhere. Before Shinkaiyami could utter anouther word, a bolt of light struck him square in the chest, sending him reeling away and causing him to drop mizu, who coughed and rubbed his throat briefly, before scrabling to pick up his weapon.

More bolts of light hti Shinkaiyami has he tried to get up, latching into his wrists and bindin him in place as he growled angrily writhing to get free. Mizu took this chance, and charged into the Wyrm, his Wailing Cleaver Shin ramming straight thorugh the Dark One's abdomen. The Wyrm roared with anger, but still did not die. He finally broke his left hand free and fired at? Mizu with another shadow blast. This time, a flash of white light appeared at the energy struck it, the disspeared, like an invisible shield. At last, Shinkayami broke free completely and tackled Mizu, the pair of them rolling over toward the edge, Mizu nearly falling over it, like his sword, which now flaoted away into the purpleness below. Shinkaiyami recovered before Mizu could help himself up, jumping onto Mizu, pinning him down and locking both hands around his throat. As his windipie became more and more constricted, Mizu clutched at the air with his hand, clawing at his assailant's chest. He then used his leg to knee Shinkaiyami in the stomach causing him to fall away to the right. Mizu latched onto him as he did, and now the tables had turned, with Shinkaiyami struggling to get Mizu off of him. The Descendant punched him repeatedly in the face.

"This one's for Gale!"

  • punch!*

"This one's for my sons!"

  • punch!*

"This one's for me!"

  • punch!*

Then, he grabbed the blood red gem from Shinkiaymi's chest, placing it onto he ground and raising his armoured fist high.

"AND THIS ONE'S FOR MANKIND!" he yelled, slamming his fist down on the gem with all his might. The gem splineted into sharp red pieces with a loud *smash!*, shattering like glass.

Shinkaiyami roared incoherently with defeat and despiar, as smoke-like shadows enveloped him, one the layers of his being were stripped away one by one, until only a skeleton remained. In his last moments, Shinkaiyami's skeletal form clawed at Mizu feebly, before the shadows folded away into the air, and the ancient bones that made up Shinkaiyami's remains toppled to the floor, but not breaking apart. The only thing that distinguished him from a human body was? his strange,? vampiric canines.

With Shinkaiyami dead, the Abyss began to collapse around him. Mizu watched, frozen with awe and unclear as to what to do next, as bits of stone fell from above, the stone circuit began to break apart,a nd the entire realm shuddered around him. Suddenly, he looke dup as a large chunk of rock made its way toward him. Sure that this was the end, he curled into a ball and waited to die. However, he unfolded himself again as incoherent whisperes invaded his ears, and wisps of heavenly lgiht began to weave around him, like a coccoon, sketchign out the crumbling Abyss. As the huge rock approached him, the light blinded him.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

A mammoth explosion rocked the citadel. It was loud, but not too loud, like the roar of the Afflicted Rathalos. huge chunks of the citadel flew in all directions, and the Frozen Spire, which sat behind, but attached to the citadel, also began to collapse. pieces of huge, jagged stone collided with one another, the building collapsing from the top like an avalanche.

As the blast and the avalnche of broken stone subsided, Gigas was fast approachign the ground. He didn't shout out of close his eyes, though: he wasn't afraid of death. As the ground rushed up to meet him, he felt the strange sensation of slowing, as if he'd landed on a cloud. He looked down to see Altair below him, his hands raised to the sky, manipulating the winds to catch his old friend in his grasp. Gigas gave an acknowledging salute, to which Altair respoded with a silent nod, slowly lowering him down to the ground. As Gigas walked toward his saviour, he spotted a huge, huge slab of rock speeding through the air behind him.

"ALTAIR, LOOK OUT! BEHIND YOU!" he shouted. Altair quickly turned around and waved shadow at the debris, slicing it in half and sending it tumbling past them. Not long after, Shinji and? Jinsoku came up to join the pair, watching the last of the shattered rubble tumble to the ground below.

Around them they saw the Afflicted writhe and growl as the shadow and bones? they were made from ripped apart, leaving nothing behind. The few remaining murders of ariborne Afflicted squawked as they were plucked out of existence. eventually, a wave of evanescing shadow washed over the entire warzone, leaving nothing behind but humans, dead and alive.

But there was no place for cheering yet. The Divine Maelstrom was still on the loose, clouding the skies with its looming death.? As if to avenge the Afflicted, it reached down to the world below, snaking it's dark tendrils trough the city like a web, reducing rebel soldiers to ash along the way, as the enemyless battlefield became a field of screaming death.

Shinji, Jinsoku, Gigas and Altair watched as their world fell apart around them.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

When Gale opened her eyes, everything around her was completely white. She didn't look around much, however: she was sure that she didn't really have to. She let out an almost inaudible gasp as the voice of a familiar friend reached her ears.

"Still alive, huh?"

She looked up from concentrating on the distant whiteness. "Rakurai?" she gasped.

"Who else?" Rakurai purred, stood against her back,? his voice as deep as ever.

"How are you here?" Gale asked, perplexed.

"Don't ask me, it's your head," Rakurai replied, slightly amused.? A pause followed.

"You need a hand with him?" Rakurai asked seriously. Gale shook her head silently, grunting quietly as she clambered into a standing position, her wounds still biting fiercely.

"You beat him three-or rather, fourteen-years ago, didn't you? This should be a sinch!" he said optimistically.

"Yeah."

"Gale...you...remember what I used to say, don't you?"

"Yeah: 'Someone's gotta save your ass'." Gale said, smiling a little.

And with that, the illusion faded, and the real world flashed into life around her, the tendrils of the Divine Maeltrom rotting away at everything around her. Then she remembered the fight..the fight that wasn't over. She looked up and flung her Lost Black Katana out, deflecting Korifubuki's abnormally long, blood-red muramasa with relative ease. She leapt up at the Wyrm who had jumped upon a short building nearby. As she landed on the ledge and sliced her blade downward the her enemy, but too late, as he somersaulted into the air, letting the storm carry him above. Gale followed him, using her control over the wind to do the same. With nothing more to say to him, Gale sped toward him, their blades locking once again, Korifubuki's face as smug and dismissive as ever.

But Gale had a surprise in store. The green light from before surrounded her again, and she threw her sword into the air. It glowed green above the two of them. Gale snapped her fingers, and ten more of the Long Sword appeared in a circle around them two of them, much to her opponent's surprise. Gale drew back, her arms spread wide.

"These are for the eleven years of bullshit you put me through!" Gale yelled,. She watched as the ten swords sped toward him each of them spearing into him and then dissapearing, each hti causing him to reel over in a different direction and angle, until he faced the sky, where Gale now was, gazing down on him with condemnation. She grabbed her sword, and thrust downward.

"Now, die, you son of a bitch!" she growled. Her entire being passed through Korifubuki the same way the other blade had done. She landed on the ground, her head bowed until she stood and looked up, sword limp by her side.

The skies were still dark, but her conscience was a little lighter.

"Stay where you belong; in my memories," Gale said tonelessly. following this, Korifubuki shifted instantaneuously to his Wyrm form, the familiar white monster with white fur on his arms, a snow white mane on his back, bright, ice-blue eyes, gargantuan wings (to go with his gargantuan body) and a crimson, ovular ruby upon his breast.

"I will...never be a memory," he muttered defiantly. With that, his body faded away like snow, which was caught with the apocalyptic winds above and blown away, never to return.

The Wyrms were now extinct.

Gale, with her newfound power, dissapeared in a green flash to rejoin her oldest friends.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

A strange, ethreal blueness surrounded Mizu, as if he was underwater. He scanned his surroundings, the way he had done when scouring the Abyss for Shinkaiyami.

"That was a brave move, Mizu Nagare; staying behind like that."

Nina appeared before Mizu, smiling properly for the first time since talking to Jinsoku in Hyoku.

"But...how-?" Mizu said, flabbergasted.

"Please," Nina said frankly, "this kind of thing is hardly new to you. It is me, after all."
Halo 4 OST - 09 Solace04:46

Halo 4 OST - 09 Solace

Nina's "death" theme

Mizu chuckled and nodded in agreement.

"So how do we get outta here?" he asked, looking around absentmindedly. A long pasued followed. Mizu slowly turned back to look at Nina.

"I will? not coming with you this time," Nina said, a tinge of remorse in the undertone of her words.

"What? What are you saying? You're? you! You can't-"

"Mizu, please! I've told you before: I am not a god. Besides, I am dead anyway."

"Huh? What do you mean?" Mizu asked, confused. Nina sighed with slight amusement.

"Do you not remember? I called? you to the Hidden Realm. I was only there becuase I had unfinished business in this world, not because I was alive. If fact, most of those with "unfinished business" do not have the willpower to be able to linger in the Hidden Realm. I, Rakurai and Shinkaiyami are some of the few who do. But my business with this world is finished now. 'Tis time for me to move on," Nina elborated smoothly. Mizu looked down, dissapointed with losing another comrade.

"Oh. You care about me. How...fascinating," Nian said, laughing freely for a brief, fleeting moment.

"Well, then...I guess...this is goodbye," Mizu said, smiling at her a little.

"Fare thee well, Mizu," Nina said with finality. Slowly she traced her steps backward, and slwoly faded into the deep sea blue.

The blue limbo dissapeared, and reality slwoly fazed back into life. To his surprise, Gale, SHinji, Jinsoku, Altair and Gigas all stood together. The Afflicted were gone and the rebels were victorious, but the Divine Maelstron was still girdling the city and Tsubaki, Skylar, Enshi, and his two sons were nowhere to be seen.

"Mizu!" Gale blurted out quickly, rushing over and clingin to him lovingly. After a few intimate seconds she pulled away, her face serious. "Is it done?" she asked. Mizu took off? his helmet and tucked it under his arm.

"Yeah. Where're Enshi and Skylar? And Tsubaki, and Rakurai and Arashi?" he asked in return.

"Skylar done got her ears busted by a Rathalos. Enshi went somehwre to take care of her," Gigas explained gruffly, removing his helmet also, simply throwing it to the ground in abadonment. It was then that they each silently realized that teh only ones of their circle of friends lieft with a weapon was Altair.

"Tsubaki, Arashi and Rakurai...we don't know," Gigas mumbled, stroking his black beard (which had several gray hairs amidst it)? with concern. Interrupting to moment, Altair slowly strode forward, his face cold and sombre, looking down at the ground, his eyes closed.

"The storm still rages...it was borne of the blackest black...only I can undo it now," he said wistfully.

"Wait, wha...?" Shinji said, traling off as the all watched Altair look up, eyes open, his clawed, blackened demonic right arm, rasing it to the sky, as if calling out for a saviour.

"Your darkness cursed me with this burden long ago...but no longer! I will have my salvation, in your destruction!" he shouted, as if the storm was sentient. The others suspected he was yelling at Shinkaiyami, but they were too shocked to care. Shadows burst from Altair body, spirallign up into the Divine Maelstrom. They watched as the storm began to rumble, as if thunder was urging to get out.

"Only shadow...can kill..shadow!" he gunted defiantly.

Finally, the shadows around Altair stopped coming, and his limp body fell slowly to the ground, face down, his ornate four-barreled pistol falling to his sde, his green, ripped cape blanketing most of his flaccid corpse. The others looked down at the body of their trusted friend and ally, and all felt the sharp stab of regret pierced their hearts for the thousandth time since they returend to their broken, battered homeland.

They then looked up and bright white sunbeams began to appear upon the ground, stabbing through the black stormclouds, slicing through the darkness like butter, until the sky was bright white with cloudy daytime.

At last, the remaining rebels cheered and roared with pride and triumph, their home finally theirs once again.

Gale, Shinji, Gigas, Mizu and Jinsoku all smiled at the sun, something they hadn't seen for so very, very long. They were so young...but with all they'd been through, they felt so old. Gigas walked over and scooped his erstwhile friend up from the dirty, bloodied ground of Yukikaze, hoisting him up and over his back. Gale quickly ran over to pick up Altair's expertly crafted pistol from the ground, then ran over to Gigas, who was walking off to join his people.

"Hey, wait a second!" she yelled. Gigas turned around and waited until the girl caught up with him. She handed him the pistol.

"I thought you'd want to keep this. He was your best? friend, after all."

"..Thanks," Gigas said, smiling just a little.

"Um..."? Gale began.

"What's wrong?"

"If you don't mind my asking...why did he always keep that gun on him? It looks really expensive..."

Gigas sighed, as if preparing to tell a long story. "Well,? he said his father made it for him on his thirteenth birthday, the year he enlisted to train to become on of the Sky Village's ninjas. Well-crafted, ornate, quad fireing mechanism, metal...it's worth a shitload allright...but gifts like this are priceless. I ain't gonna sell this for nothing or no-one, 'least not 'till I'm dead."

"...Alright. Well, guess We'll see you again sometime, huh? It'll be while before we meet again, wha with the reconstruction and all," Gale said cheerily, the others running up to join her.. Gigas smiled at the girl, gace her a stern salute, and marched off to join his people.

"Wait!" Mizu shouted. Gigas gurmbled, and turned around, a fresh cigar in his mouth.

"Whaddya want now?!" he snarled impatiently. The others giggle a little.

"I...want you to be around for this."

With that, he fumbled in his pocket, producing? two rings made of pure silver,one? with an orb of pure Dragonite, which he held onto, and the other with an orb of pure Machalite, which he offered to Gale, who eyes were alight with both embarrassment and surprise, blushing the way one does when toasted at a speech or wished a happy birthday by a large crowd. Tears of joy welled up in her eyes and slowly trickled down her cheeks.

"Pure Machalite and Dragonite, on pure silver. Imported all the way from Pokke. The green represents you,a dn the blue...well, you can figure it out."

He smiled at her as she giggled with excitement, anticipating his next move.

"Say it," she said weakly, smiling like a cheshire cat. He placed his hand on his girlfriend's face.

"Gale Kaze. WIll you marry me?" he said slowly, just in case she didn't understand. He watched as she laughed quietly to herself.

"Yes. Yes, I will!" she cried, rushign forward and clinging onto her fiancé as she kissed him, more tenderly than ever before. Shinji, and Jinsoku celebrated with a kiss of their own, while Gigas and the few? rebels that had gathered around them clapped, whistled and cheered.

Suddenly, as if to ruin the moment on purpose, Rakurai and Arashi landed in a heap on the ground around them, bruised and battered but not bloodied. They comglomerate of hunter looked yonder to see a bloodied and broken Kazir slashing away at Tsubaki's shield, the totally Ceadeus-armed hunter putting up a fair but futile fight. The broken, twisted young man raored and kicked Tsubaki away into the same heap as her boiyfriend and his brother, Gale and Mizu moving to stand in front of their sons and their young ladyfriend protectively.

"...You..btich...DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Kazir shrieked hoarsely, charging at the steadfast Gale. Gale sprinted forth to meet him, Lost Black Katan at the ready. Kazir, in his ire, swung his blade harder than ever, disarming Gale in two hits, then kicking her to the ground. Gale, in shock, quickly scrabled backward through the dirt, Kazir grinning with insade sadism, rasing his gleaming weapon, a nd drawing it back to spear the girl in the heart.

"NO!" Shinji shouted, stepping into the path of the oncoming blade. The cruel sword pierced her abdomen as she cried out sharply, bu it was cut off by the shock of the cold that spread through her like a coming tide. Shinji growled guttrally, then grabbed hold of the blade with both hands, and grunted with the strain on her muscles, and she ever-so-slowly, to everybody's surprise, lifted Kazir, still holding onto the sword, off of the ground. Too shocked and beaten to do anything further, Kazir stared with tired hatred at his victim.

"GO TO HELL, YOU GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Shinji roared as loud as her injury would allow, follwoing which she turned her body slightly, then flung herself? back around and let go of the armament. The sword loosed itself from Shinji's body and sent Kazir flying across the immediate area. He didn't even growl in anger or annoyance as he collided with a small heap of debris nearby, the awkwardly angles rocked jutting out and snapping the psychopath's kneck with a *crack!* that echoed like a gunshot. Kazir's body fell flacid against the rubble, toppling dowm limply until he came to rest against it like a pillow. Seconds after, his bloodied sword landed in the dirt by his side with a sharp slicing sound.

Now it was truly over.





To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom XXX: Liberation

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