Foreword: Soundtrack below.

Scene One: Trigun - Fool`s Paradise
G Gundam - Intense Battle(OR Rurouni Kenshin - The Last Wolf Suite)
Scene Two: Zoids - Provocation
Scene Three: Hack Sign - Key of the Twilight
Scene Four: Rammstein - Engel
Scene Five: Inuyasha - Demon Exterminator Sango
Scene Six: Hack Sign - In The Land of Twilight
Scene Seven: Zoids - Childhood Memories
Scene Eight: Trigun - Never Could Have Been Worse
Scene Nine: Zoids - Any End of the Land
Scene Ten: Killswitch Engage - One Last Sunset
Scene Eleven: Trigun - Zero Hour
Scene Twelve: Zoids - Wailing Steel(OR Spineshank - Beginning of the End)




Reign of Chaos
Exodus

In the middle of the desert, the broken cockpit hatch of a Zoid that had originally been black and gold, now a monotone stain of brown and orange from sand, clay and dirt, flipped open.

[Glassteel slagged under one last punishing blow, the Shadow Fox`s right front leg embedded itself into the Hellwalker`s right eye, holding steady and strong even as sparks hosed out of every stabilizer on its body, the laser vulcan finally spinning out and overheating before built-in safety measures caused it to completely stop firing.

Marcus Harlock let out a desperate yell.

"What the hell are you doing?! MOVE!"

"No," came a disturbingly simple, calmly given reply. It was the kind of tone that sent chills down your spine and stripped away any sense of surrender from anyone or anything. For Bill Chapman, there was no surrender, there would be no retreat. He was going into the fire without budging an inch to actually do it, putting his own survival into what could only be described as a point of no return. If he failed in whatever he had planned, he was going to die. If he succeeded in whatever he had planned, he was probably still going to die.

That was the kind of thing that either motivated you or terrified you, depending on your state of mind, and right now, Mark wasn`t going on his usual mixture of adrenaline and lunacy. He had run out of adrenaline sometime after the Shadow Fox had latched itself onto one of the Hellwalker`s eyes, and lunacy had gone down the drain not long after that.

As such, he wasn`t really able to do anything but become even more desperate than he already was. With the Fox knowingly holding itself in place by only one clawed foot, he drew back its other limb and spoke up, voice only a few steps shy of a whisper.

"Transfer all remaining energy into the other claw, Fox. Let`s lobotomize this mother fucker..."

No apathetically precise text rolled across the lower console, no epically synthesized shriek of battle and no on-the-fly surprises from the Zoid. It just did as told, lower legs going limp, the laser vulcan completely losing power and even the eyes dimming as the remaining claw lit up like a sharpened, reshaped star, glowing golden with such intensity that excess energy literally burnt into the air around it and formed a neon yellow mist around it.

"GET OUT OF THERE!"

Two attacks followed almost at the exact same instant, coming down to the milliseconds as a 150mm, armor piercing slug blared over the Fox`s left shoulder, plowing into the gap in the eye that the claws had already carved out. A missile was right behind it, little more than a magnite rod with a pointed tip and a rocket on its back, spinning in after the bullet and stabbing into the remaining material of the eye, which in turn caused a small explosion to tear a path right to the core chamber, gigantic as it was..

"We all have choices," he heard Bill mutter out, though he only barely paid attention to it. The Fox`s front left leg trembled, sparks blazed out of its stabilizers as the right gave a having pull.

"This..."

There was a clear opening, just wide and tall enough for the Shadow Fox`s whole leg to fit into, leading all the way to the core itself.

"Is..."

Hesitation vanished, desperation turned into resolve and action - the Shadow Fox threw every ounce of its weight behind the Strike Laser Claw, thrusting it like a burning rapier into the gap in the Hellwalker`s eye, slagging bits of glassteel and internal metals at the same time.

"MINE!!!"

Chapman screamed, Mark paid him no mind this time, letting out a grit yell of his own as the Fox slammed to a halt with enough force to jar him forward and sling sweat from his face onto the console in front of him, the harness straps stretching to their limit while the canine Zoid let out a howl of indignance, buried up to its shoulder in the Walker`s eye. The Strike Laser Claw slapped against the Core chamber`s shell, shattering a hole into it and spraying instantly molten debris across the secondary Core itself.

The Walker shrieked in pain, the last threads of resillience finally snapping in its right wrist as the foot completely gave out, sending it crashing all the way to the ground with a titanic blast of pressure and dust, the kind that could blanket city blocks in darkness for minutes on end and shatter glass for a mile in every direction. Mark felt his heart skip three beats in a row, the breath was forced out of his lungs and the impact threw him to his left. The straps continued to stretch to their absolute limit before yanking him back, his shoulder smacking off of a side panel in the process. He bit back a grunt from the pain, sliding into place and tensing all over while the colossus started to slide, its lower jaw breaking off somewhere along the way.

[WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! STRUCTURAL FAILURE IMMINENT! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!]

The message flashed across his screen, but he didn`t even read it. His heart pounded back with a vengeance, lodging itself into his throat several times over as he felt metal buckling from left to right.

"THIS ONE`S FOR YOU, BECK!" He managed to scream out, willing the Shadow Fox`s front right leg to action and forcing it to straighten out in such a way that the left front was left in place, literally snapping off like a twig. The Zoid let out a strangled yelp, willingly losing the limb with a sense of glee that its pilot could almost feel, energy automatically redirecting from the lost leg into the others.

The lost leg slid the rest of the way, slowly but surely plopping onto the Walker`s deformed secondary Core and burning it to death over the course of several agonizing seconds. A triple kick followed, the Fox heaved itself away and hit the ground with a crumple of plating all across its side, rolling limply while its command system suffered an instant freeze.

Mark held his breath, shut his eyes and weighted for the end, pushing himself back into his seat and doing his damndest to stay there. The Zoid hit a bump, bounced up and hit the ground again, skidding along next to the Hellwalker, but right in the path of the Demon`s shoulder.
]

Dust still choked the air, the sound of a soft thump into the sand was only barely audible over everything else.

["Awww f-" He never finished the curse, eyes diverting from the incoming shoulder as his senses registered a movement right in front of him.

A few seconds later, Bill Chapman looked back to see the Shadow Fox, sparks flying from its cheek, flip through the air close to a half dozen times and crash back down, missing the dead Walker`s shoulder and body by critical yards, hitting the ground with another skid, which in turn kicked up its own small dust trail, though that was promptly blown away by the cloud thrown by the Hellwalker.
]

The Fox let out a groan, underscored by the exhausted laugh of a young man, laying on the sand with arms and legs spread in every direction, breathing raspily and smiling like a raging idiot.

"... You... You... You son of a bitch," he managed to sputter out before breaking out into a coughing laugh and starting to sit upright on a sore arm, blue eyes glancing towards the downed Zoid to his right. The armor all along its body had been beaten and dirtied, but only one particular injury stood out, a single mark that defied logical explanation and normal reasoning.

It was a gigantic dent that perfectly fit the shape of the largest toe on a Rev Raptor`s foot.

"Saved my ass again!"

"Chapman? You there?" Pierce`s voice sounded, a bit scratchy because of the static currently reigning supreme over virtually every frequency he could tune into. The Breaker`s communications equipment hadn`t exactly gone unscathed during the battle.

"Yeah. I`m alive."

A layer of uncertainty seemed to lift from her voice in the form of a sigh of relief, but another remained as the Sworder, still holding up the clip-winged Raynos JT, flew overhead, the other Zoid trailing smoke from where its wings had once been. If Jamie was even conscious, he was silent, either with his radio off or just wanting to gather his wits. Bill honestly couldn`t blame him.

"What about Mark? Is he okay?" Pierce asked, her tone resembling that of an older sister worried about a younger sibling more than any sort of worry for someone who was just a friend. She had finally allowed her attitude level to drop a few notches, but then again, who wouldn`t? Bill couldn`t blame her for that either.

"Yeah, his Zoid wasn`t pulped. I`m gonna go check up on `im, but we`re both gonna need a tow back outta here before I can even think of trying to repair the damage we`ve all been hit with," he finally replied after a few seconds, literally having to pry his hands from the controls so that he could reach down and start to undo his harness.

"I got that. It`ll take my Gustav a while to get out here, probably even longer since I gotta drop clipper here off at the base, but I`ll be back in an hour or two, tops," Pierce said, and quite obviously meant it. The Sworder swung around in a wide turn back towards the base, dragging the Raynos along with it. "Good job, Chapman."

And with that, the Storm Sworder and the JT hurtled off towards the base at just over half the speed of sound. Bill didn`t doubt that Pierce would make good on her word, simply nodding exhaustedly towards her audio messaging and then flipping the radio off. With a single clip, four of the five buckles on the harness zipped back into their ready points, while the fifth allowed the lock to simple flop against his thighs. The cockpit`s hatch flipped open not long after that, and the flight chair, along with the forward console, promptly slid down on a rail towards the ground, where it stopped just inches shy of hitting the dirt.

"That`ll be all for now, pal," he said, climbing out of the seat with cramped legs and a tired body, his mind bruised where his skin wasn`t. "Take a nap, I`ll fix you up as soon as we get back to the Farm, `kay?" He asked, taking a worn glance over his shoulder.

The Zoid issued a low rumble in acknowledgement, drawing the chair and console back in, then shutting the cockpit off once more. At that, the optics ceased to glow and the huge, battered, triumphant war machine known as the Blue Geno Breaker fell over onto its left side and front, then limply rolled entirely onto the side, jaw hanging open while whisps of smoke trailed up from just about every part of its body, head, legs, arms and tail, from vents to thrusters to its blown out charged particle cannon. The only real, evolved weapon the beast had left was its killing spike, and even that looked as if it had seen better days.

With that out of the way, Bill let off a tired smirk and reached up, pulling the jacket off and bundling it up under one arm, removing his gloves and sticking them into one of its pockets and looking away. Neon blue eyes narrowed briefly at the sight of the dead giant that lay so close, yet imposingly so very far away at the same time, its neck curled and broken bodyparts lying all over the place. Panels of armor that had broken off, a tooth that was probably twice as long as a Gojulas was tall, and just as thick, parts of guns...

But those were only barely noticable background pieces compared to the dead Hellwalker itself. The Cores, all three of them, had been taken out, one by one. Bill knew he had offed two of them - the second had been close enough to where he was that the chamber had broken and flames, debris and shock had burned, stabbed and fried it to death, the third had crashed right into his half-shield finisher and found itself pulped, burned and torn apart all at the same time.

The Core that acted as the primary brain though, that had been Mark`s doing. Bill didn`t know much about Zoid physiology, but he`d known of the theory behind Zoids with multiple Cores - it had been one of Sloan Tendro`s favorite topics. Even though almost no one ever admitted to listening to him blab about it.

If only one or even two of the Cores were taken out, the Zoid would be crippled, but only for the amount of time it would take for the surviving Core or Cores to revive them, almost like copping out and turning an actual Core into an substitute Organoid. If not for Mark taking out the Core in the head, and if not for Pierce and Jamie blowing out the way for him to finish doing so, the Hellwalker would`ve still been functional, at least functional enough that it could`ve continued fighting as nothing but a stationary fortress. It would`ve eventually healed too, and probably come back even stronger than before since Henry would`ve reprogrammed it once again.

Now though, the Walker lay, dead as a three mile long doorknob. Its corpse held a certain... Fallen majesty to it though, one that only brought a sense of mourning from Bill. Not the mourning of respect, or even guilt that he`d helped to kill something so glorious - however horrible that glory had been - but the mourning of a fallen relative. He`d never really known Henry Rommel, only seen him a few times, maybe sensed emotions from a distance, but there was something that nagged at him about the other.

They`d been alike. Maybe not in the ways that could`ve kept them from slugging it out to the bitter end with one another, but they`d still been alike. Both were humans, yet not. Both had been completely alone in the world, with only their Zoids as companions. Even among human allies, Bill still felt alone because not one of them had the same glowing eyes or the same ability to interact with the Zoids that he did. Henry hadn`t just had the ability to interact with them on such a personal level, he`d become one himself.

["I wouldn`t just be piloting him."]

"I guess in the end, I was still the only one even when he was alive."

A deep breath filtered into his lungs as the dust began to clear, the heat of the morning sun itched at his skin, yet did little to gain his attention.

"We may`ve been alike, Henry," he thought aloud, starting to walk towards where the distant lump of brown was situated, the same lump that the Shadow Fox had become. "But not alike enough. I`m sorry you turned out the way you did, but I hope you can find some kind of peace in death," he admitted, hearing the all too close, yet still distant sounds of the Hellwalker slowly beginning to stone over like so many dead Zoids did when their Cores were destroyed.

"I`m impressed," the boy said with a tone as bland as a disinterested film critic at a romance movie, finally lowering the binoculars a second time as Abbie glanced down at him from where she`d been frantically pacing around, debating on whether or not to hijack a Gustav and drive out there herself.

"What happened?" She asked, voice taut and weary, eyes looking as if they were on the verge of spilling over with tears. This was not the kind of woman who could keep up a life of waiting on a man to either live or die, not like this. Not without knowing what was going on. It had been hard enough leaving Farentown behind as it`d burned down to the ground, it`d been just as hard dealing with the sudden loss of a man who`d had a seeming barrier of invincibility around him, but it`d been hardest to find out that Mark had apparently left to fight the damn thing again without saying a good-bye.

Although she couldn`t quite explain how she`d ended up waking up with his baseball cap in her hand, but that really wasn`t the point.

"The good guys won. Even more impressive is that nobody died," he pointed out after a few choice seconds of delay, only to speak again after another moment, "Except for the one who was supposed to."

A few more seconds ticked by, and the tension and stress level in the hangar dropped like a rock off a cliff, hitting the surface of the nonexistent water and sinking into bliss and joy in an instant. While the child known as Alistair Edward Smith seemed completely unphased by all that had just happened, the woman known as Abigail Summers was jumping up and down and shouting out in similar fashion to a depraved fangirl.

"Crazy freak," the kid finally mumbled out, slowly turning away and chucking the binoculars over to his apparent adoptive mother, who caught them without even realizing it for the first few seconds.

"Where are you going?" She asked, hearing the coming howl of a jet engine running at less than half power.

"Back to bed, all of this is too much excitement for my fragile young mind."

If sarcasm had an avatar in reality, it would`ve been the boy who promptly exited the hangar, stepping through the doors into the hallway and vanishing from sight entirely. For a few more moments after that, Abbie was silent, simply staring in the direction the kid had waltzed off in without a word. With that out of the way though, she shook her head, turned back around, raised the binoculars and let out an impish grin that could`ve given diabetes to Gunther Prozen. After he`d been partially absorbed by a Death Saurer`s Zoid Core.

The Storm Sworder and the broken down form of some kind of warped Raynos were already starting to make the descent towards landing on the concrete-covered ground in front of the base. Abbie couldn`t help but feel giddy right about now.

Wake up.

There was the mental equivelent of what felt like icewater being dumped onto one`s crotch before a strangled yelp cracked through the confines of the Liger Zero`s cockpit, finally rousing one sleep addicted Bit Cloud out of what had probably seemed like a coma without the life support. Or the doctors. Or the nurses clad in exceedingly skimpy clothing...

"Bfhth... Right when it was just gettin` good," the blonde sputtered out belatedly, literally wide awake with such a burst of energy that he didn`t even feel the need to yawn, stretch, belch, fart, scratch or snuggle further into the seat, or any of the other Bitly™ things that he usually did when he`d slept too long. In this case, that had been something on the order of twenty or more hours spent sleeping like a rock, which was the obvious reason for the streak of drool running down from the left side of his mouth - promptly wiped away on the back of one dirty leather glove.

I honestly do not know how you humans can have such long dreams about one subject, Roc commented, and though Bit presently wasn`t able to see it, the great First Born shook his crested head in the process.

"... I`d explain, but I get the feeling you wouldn`t understand."

A few seconds ticked by as the Liger pilot tapped a finger to his temple and tried to make mental contact with Zeke. As had been the case when he`d last been awake, the Organoid was still unconscious, and its permanently fused body clung to the core of the Liger Zero more like a dead fungus trying to hold onto the base of a tree than anything else.

"You sure he`s not dead?" Bit asked with some audible concern, though one would have to be telepathic to pick up on the thick, unending layers of anxiety hidden beneath his voice. He had, both knowingly and unknowingly, bound himself so tightly to Zeke that he was probably as close to the Organoid than Van and Fiona had been, if not more so. Losing Zeke would`ve been like losing a twin brother or something, maybe even worse.

If he was dead, his body would have fossilized and transfered out of the Liger Zero by now. He is alive, merely resting and gathering strength, Roc answered. Now unblind yourself. You must see, with open eyes, that which has transpired while you were asleep.

"... Unblind myself?" Bit asked annoyedly, still having trouble speaking with Roc, and Madison, when she`d been around, due to how the Ancient tended to speak in near-riddle or half-truths that weren`t also half-lies, critical gaps always appearing here and there. Just trying to get directions to a battle was hard enough, trying to get actual conversation out of the great chimera was like trying to chat it up with a brick wall and an escaped mental patient that knew everything except how to explain it.

Although the brick wall and the mental patient probably would`ve been friendlier.

... Shake the Liger`s head. Since it has been standing still for so long, its sight has been blinded by Hell`s snow.

"... Ah. Well, I feel like a dumbass," Bit replied, grasping the controls and then coaxing the Liger out of a standstill, getting the Zoid to actually stretch this way and that before shaking the pounds of snow, ash and general grim off of its once stylishly black-and-white head. Almost instantly, once the Zoid`s optics were properly cleared, Bit`s jaw practically came unhinged.

"What the hell?"

His eyes had been greeted with a sight that simply didn`t fit in with what he was used to when it came to Nyx. Gone was the thick, naturally polluted air, countless tons of ash and snow no longer spewing down from the solid black clouds above, which now seemed almost broodingly calm, their outward facade occasionally broken by shocks of cloud-to-cloud lightning, bursting into view like the outlines of grinning, inhuman faces. The ground remained covered though, coated in a hardening slosh composed of millions of tons of snow and ash, mixed into a monotone gray across the landscape.

Still, things remained. The glowing crystals that permeated the continent, ranging from irradiated magnite to unknown materials all together, still stood tall and imposing, virtually every one glowing a different color from the last, and all of them exposed by the simple fact that any snow or ash had been melted off due to surface heat. The mountains and ridges that were placed in a seemingly random pattern around the mesa still stood, although it now seemed as if every river of lava and every screaming volcano had been silenced, though whisps of smoke could still be seen in what was now more of an afternoon twilight than an early evening one, while the gigantic bulge that trailed all the way into the distant remains of the city that housed that eerie blood red glow, as if it were a miniature sun in its own right.

"... Did everything just stop?" Bit asked, staring blankly at the display all around he and the Liger.

No, Roc answered, stepping by with an eerily silent pace towards the edge of the mesa, red-and-blue optics seeming to narrow in the direction of the far off, but no less visible Dome, situated miles away. Like an unnatural scar in a surreal depiction of Hell, something there seemed to be echoing a challenge. Distant movements stirred so subtly that the human eye shouldn`t have been able to catch them, yet did.

It is finally about to begin. For the first time in centuries, something terrible is going to happen.

"What is?" The blonde asked again, just as the Liger moved of its own accord and came to stand next to the larger, more majestic Roc, shaking off a few more tons of grime with every step it took. "And what`s gonna happen that`s so terrible?" He added almost as an afterthought.

The Sleepers are going to awaken, and find that they are strong...


The cockpit flipped open with a gasp of air, Jamie undid his harness and started to climb out, only to pause and glance as far back as he could. The Sworder had been forced to literally drop him onto the concrete during the landing, and as a result, the Raynos`d skidded along for several dozen yards before slowing to a dead stop, partially on its side, partially on its feet and partially on the side of its mouth at the same time, having left behind a long, black stain along the once smooth pavement.

"Any landing you can walk away from," he reminded himself in Will`s place, finally shaking his head and finishing the climb back down. It was somewhat awkward, given the way the Raynos` head was tilted, but he managed it, sitting down on the rim of the cockpit and then just dropping a few feet to the ground. He landed somewhat stiffly, a sharp contrast to the almost relaxed way in which the Sworder`s cockpit lowered open and Pierce practically jumped down.

One green haired woman landed in a crouch, another let out a yell of what could loosely be placed somewhere between enthusiasm and joy, both ended up crashing into each other in the way that only siblings really could. The shorter of the two had jumped, the taller had stumbled a bit and caught her, both were now hugging as if they`d each survived a pocket apocalypse.

"I was so worried!"

Some babble.

"Mark is fine - you should`ve seen the way that Chapman took that thing out!"

More incoherent sister-to-sister rambling.

"HE WHAT?! How the hell could my Markie put himself in danger like that?!"

A bit of fangirlism followed.

"And THEN-"

Jamie almost felt as if his brain was starting to leak out of his ears, finally turning around in time to watch the two holding hands and jumping up and down in typical bouncy anime chick fashion, complete with big, bright smiles, flowing hair, jiggling body parts and enough estrogen to cause the manliest of conversations to turn to such fine things as knitting, and the color pink...

"... I need a shower," he mumbled out, glad to be ignored as he walked by, shoulders slumped in exhaustion and perhaps even a small shred of defeat. Sure, he`d helped to take the Walker down, but he hadn`t been nearly as significant as Mark or Bill had. Neither had Pierce for that matter, though she didn`t seem to give much of a damn.

["I guess there`re worse ways to die..."]

A hand went up to slap his own forehead as he managed to get past the two-strong row of trailered Gustavs, one of them still holding a rather shot up looking Blade Liger.

It stopped almost the instant he felt a leather clad arm with a surprising amount of muscle swing around his neck and yank him back, up, and right off the ground, gloved knuckles grinding like sand paper into his scalp as a pair of rather large, pillowy things smushed up against the back of his neck and shoulders.

"Now, now, didn`t think we`d forgotten ya, did you?" Pierce asked with a grin so shitfaced it would`ve made the smuggest of tyrants weep with envy, comparable to the psychotic looks of pleasure that Leena Tauros could get when she was about to shoot something. Minus the little violent twinkle in the eyes, the one that said 'this is going to hurt.' Now, Jamie being... Well, Jamie, would`ve tried to struggle free or something to that effect, maybe kick his legs around, flail a bit, perhaps even yell to be let go of.

And then Abbie`s small-but-well-endowed self had hugged him too. Around the waist this time. With her chest mushed up against him, practically one step shy of tearing loose of her shirt.

"You did great!"

"Make that a cold shower..."

Squeeze
!

"COLD! VERYVERYCOLD!!!"

After a few seconds though, along with a pair of lipstick smudges to one cheek, he`d been released from the great Green Haired Prison of Osojiggleh Doom, left to stumble along on his way as the sisters wandered towards Pierce`s Gustav. Suffice to say, by the time he made his way into the hallway, Jamie Hameros` face was colored so red that the lipstick smudges didn`t even show up, though were he in a right state of mind, he`d`ve probably made a decree to never wash his face again.

Ever.

As it stood though, he simply walked along, until he found himself standing back between the rows of people, numbering in the dozens, who he had helped to save. For a few moments, it still seemed as if no one had noticed him, save for the single black haired man standing directly in his path.

It was Terry.

He was smiling, and that gold plated tooth was practically glowing right along with it.

And a few seconds later, other people had started to look up and smile too. Reality dawned in the moments it took them to realize that one of their would-be protectors, at least one of them, had come back alive, looking almost as if the only thing that had even done any damage to him was the stress of battle. If anyone came back alive after going to fight that thing, and if they had taken so long to do it, surely that meant that the Demon was dead. There just wasn`t any other logic any of them could accept right now.

Luckily for them, they were right.

Dopishly and with embarrassment to be the center of attention once again, Jamie smiled almost impishly back at them all, placing a hand up to rub at the back of his head and then flagging a victory sign in Terry`s direction. Soon enough, people had started standing, and when they did, they`d started clapping, and cheering.

They had hope again. Their lives had been destroyed, but they had hope, and that was all they really needed anymore. For the first time in his life, Jamie Hameros understood that, and he understood that he had been a part of something epic and great - something good.

The shameful embarrassment slowly faded away, replaced by laughter and a sense of pride. Things were finally starting to look up.

The mechanical sound of a strangled beast ticked through his ears, the cockpit was almost unfamiliar after having spent so long outside of it. Still, there was something about it that dashed hesitation, a comforting presence in the back of his thoughts and emotions that couldn`t quite be described, yet was easily recognized nonetheless. His body jerked forward just barely, his sight struggled to stay focus and his mind battled to keep from slipping into the frenzied stream of live, up to the second information, ranging from the weather in Champton to the recent defeat of the Hellwalker near what had once been Farentown.

It was overwhelming enough that most grown men and women would`ve collapsed into a blissful state of information overload, which would`ve then driven them completely insane as their very minds were destroyed by the onslaught of data.

Vega Obscura was adapting though, and he had help.

Just stay focused, you`ll be able to control them properly soon enough.

"I wasn`t having this problem before," he pointed out blandly, still having to grit his teeth once in a while. The naked Fury rumbled a bit, slowly starting to inch forward without even moving at all - the work of the changeable armor system, no doubt.

Before, you weren`t having to multitask between piloting, being fully bonded to me and maintaining your own sense of self-awareness. You were also being pulled into random trances. It`s hard now, and it probably will be for a long time, but you`ll get the hang of it, Specular replied with a projection of comfort and the notion of a pat on the back. She stood outside the Zoid, at the very end of the CAS rails.

"I guess I don`t need to tell you that we`re in range, do I?" Lars asked, his face popped up in a window on the main console, just to Vega`s right. He paid it little attention, reaching up with a gloved hand to wipe the sweat away from his face.

"Hook me up with the Fury`s base armor," he finally ordered after a few seconds, feeling his heart skip a beat in the process.

It was all starting to come full circle.

"Right... Activating Berserk Fury CAS... Now."

The armorless Fury came to a total stop after several seconds, limbs all pointing themselves into a neutral position as the equip-arms started to move, each one prying a piece of silvery armor from the walls and the ceiling, then slapping it into place. Magnetic locks did the rest, and piece by piece, the original form of the former Ultimate X Fury vanished, giving rise to a complete rebirth of a beast that had terrorized the previous Royal Cup.

"Bit`s walking right into a trap," he pointed out at last, glancing to the side opposite of Lars` window.

Shoulder panels locked into place.

And he knows it. I wouldn`t expect any less from someone who can count Van Fleiheit as an ancestor.

Hip and thigh armor clasped on, where before, there had been none.

"What do you mean?"

Zoid-sized boots, complete with footlocks, slid onto the Fury`s feet, clamping into place.

They all have a subconscious death wish and just can`t wait to carry it out, came the sardonic answer, only partially joking. Really, why else would that twit have lunged into a charged particle beam as it fired?

The backpack followed, Buster Claw arms held in neutral while the tail and chest plates were all smacked onto the Fury`s body, followed by more and more plates, panels and joint covers. Boosters finished things off, yet one part remained.

"... Got a point there, actually," Vega replied with a barely suppressed snicker. The events of the climactic final battle of the Royal Cup were still things he couldn`t quite remember, at least not after he`d been knocked unconscious until the very end of the fighting.

"Berserk Fury..." Lars` voice rang back into Vega`s ears as the last pieces of armor began to approach. Within seconds, the Zoid`s blocky head became sleek, angular and almost demonic, yet topped off its equally knightly appearance, coloring the black head to match the rest of the now silvery lavender-and-white body.

"CAS complete."

Red optics lit up as an earth shaking roar blew through the confines of the Foe Hammer`s hangar, just before the reborn Berserk Fury was slid forward. Specular stood waiting for a few seconds longer, only to fade a completely solid neon blue and streak into the metal tyrannosaur`s body with a crack of what almost sounded like thunder. Red became blue, reigns became easier to keep a hold on and Vega took a deep breath.

The launch rail - and with it, the Fury - lowered down into position, electricity volting all over the place as the Foe Hammer came to a near stop, still holding steady several hundred feet from the water`s surface, at least a quarter of a mile from the coast of Hell itself.

"Mobilize!" Vega finally shouted out, feeling the heavy vest he wore shift against his body, in much the same away as his body shifted against the seat, pressing back. Lightning flared around the Zoid, which blasted forward at several hundred miles per hour with the sound of a gigantic gunshot, streaking over the waters in a steady descent towards the ground.

"Good luck, Vega, I`ll-" Comms blurred into static as the Fury hit a wall of previously unseen, undetected energy, plowing right through it as if it were water and hitting the ground as boosters flipped open and leg jets kicked into high gear. The Zoid`s entire backside practically turned into a fireball with a tail on it within a few seconds, propelled forward at a few hundred miles per hour.

Swiftly, the Foe Hammer banked to a mid-air stop, and a quarter of a mile from Nyx, Lars Torson let out a string of curses, almost flying out of his seat and into a console in the process.

The wall the Fury had hit and passed through hadn`t been a fluke.

It was a Rare Hertz.

Out in the middle of the open desert between the Blitz Team base and what had once been Farentown, one man came to a standstill while another sat, propped back against the snout of the unconscious Shadow Fox, both looking as if they`d just walked through Hell and come out only slightly worse for wear in the process. One was covered in dust and dirt, the other simply looked as if he`d walked a country mile after running a marathon.

Unsurprisingly, both felt about as crappy as they appeared.

"You`re looking thoughtful," Bill Chapman finally pointed out, still holding his jacket and gloves under one arm.

"How long ya think it`ll take for it to stone over?" Marcus Harlock asked out of the blue, completely ignoring the previous words as if they`d never been spoken at all. He was staring at the dead form of the Hellwalker as if it were the only thing that even stood out amongst the bland, mostly flattened landscape of the desert.

"I don`t know," Bill answered, his own attentions also focused on how the Demon was still fossilizing. It had been over an hour since the battle had ended, yet the dead beast still hadn`t finished going through the strange process of turning to stone. Its tail, part of its lower body and what remained of the head and upper neck were all completely fossilized by now, and out of sight, Chapman was willing to bet money that the insides near the primary Core`s location had already finished shifting to stone. "It should be over by tonight, I guess."

There was a brief pause, underscored by the cracking sounds of the metal turning to stone. How Zoids could sometimes do this was still a mystery, and even after over four hundred years of study, only the basics of why they did it were understood. Finally though, Bill spoke up again.

"Been a wild day, huh?"

"I just wanna sleep..."

"Why`s that?" Bill asked, somewhat clueless that Mark hadn`t exactly slept since yesterday.

"Haven`t slept in two days... Last night`s startin` to become just a blur with a few things standing out... This mornin` seems like a dream and I think my dead uncle saved my ass again at the end of the battle," the weary Shadow Fox pilot answered after a few seconds, bringing both hands up to rub tiredly at his eyes.

"... Sounds like you`ve had a fun few days," the Breaker pilot replied a bit blandly.

"Ohhhhhh, just peachy," Mark added. "Wake up near the ass crack o` dawn, spend the whole day fighting, watch my hometown explode up into a big pile of shit, get stomped a bit, run for my life to someone else`s home base, get stomped again, run some more, spend the night welding away a hole in a ten or twenty ton steel door, then this shit. I feel like I`m gonna pass out for a week, man..."

"Wouldn`t blame you," Bill replied, choosing not to throw his own troubles onto the fire. Pity parties weren`t his style, although both of them were more or less entitled to one right about now.

"Anyone who would is a pig fucking sadist. And an asshole. Definately an asshole."

"Ye-" "`EY! SOLJUH BOYS!"

"... Not that shit again," Mark sputtered out exhaustedly, half-cracking out a laugh in the process as he hung his head. Bill only rose a brow at being interrupted...

"YOU, ME, SUCKY SUCKY, TEN DOLLA!"

"... What the hell?" He finally yelped out, bolting upright and turning red in the face at the rather loud words blaring out in a very poorly imitated foriegn accent, while Mark simply continued hanging his head and let out a sigh.

"Now ya see why I went for the short one," he sardonically muttered out before finally heaving himself up to his feet as a white-and-black Gustav pulled up, the green cockpit glass flipped open to reveal two young, tan skinned women with green hair, one about to burst out into hysterics, the other about to have a conniption.

"Well, at least they seem to`ve done something decent," Bill replied after a few seconds, still red in the face as he regarded the downed, trailered form of the blue Geno Breaker.

"How`s it hangin`, Blue Eyes?" Pierce asked once the Gustav had finished grinding to a stop, just a few yards from the downed form of the Shadow Fox.

"Been better," Bill answered simply, although both he and Pierce seemed to be ignored as one Abigail Summers literally heaved up out of the cockpit of the Gustav, landed and broke into a sprint in the same motion.

"Markie!" She shouted out with the same ear piercing kind of voice that characterized a fangirl. At the last moment, he managed to turn to face her, only to recieve a smack to one cheek. "Don`t you ever-" A smack to the other cheek. "Do that to me again!" And then his old, worn out baseball cap was jammed onto his head and a pair of surprisingly strong arms had wrapped around his waist so firmly that his back actually popped in and out of alignment. Twice.

"I WAS SO WORRIED!!! I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA LOSE YOU!!!"

"... I can`t feel my legs..."

"Ahhhh, love," Pierce commented with a cynical amusement, while Mark guhhed, Abbie half-bawled and Bill just stared.

The crackling screech of an alarm blared through the hangar, followed by the sound of someone banging the unholy hell out of a cooking pot with a hammer, which was in turn followed by good ol` fashioned yelling.

"WAKE UP, BOYS AND GIRLS! WAKE UP!" The voice kept repeating, causing one Leyla Tsun to slowly, blearily sit up on her mattress, throw aside the sheets and shift a glare in the man`s general direction. He looked to be in his mid-twenties, with short, unkempt dark red hair, built like a freight train with an attitude to match, wearing an almost stock-issue jumpsuit, save for the shredded sleeves and the white t-shirt worn beneath it.

"Couldn`t he have the human decency to wait until people can get earplugs on to go banging on that thing?" She growled out in thought, even if it made little, if any sense.

"I THINK WE`RE ALL UP BY NOW, CARSON!" Someone finally screamed out annoyedly as a boot went flying through the air, beaned the pot-banger upside the head and caused him to fall over.

"OW!"

Leyla blinked.

"Well, at least I know I`m not in the army now," she thought with a passing sense of relief, if only because she`d always had a slight aversion to being in a real army. Too much rigid confinement in that sort of thing, while Champton`s defense forces were little more than a glorified militia when it really came down to details.

Either way, she soon slipped up and out of bed while Carson hauled his lug of a self off the floor and started shouting profanity all the way over to the kitchenette that had been set up in the hangar`s corner. With a raised brow, she started to pull her socks and boots on, ignoring the fact that other people were stripping down to their underwear or nothing at all and changing in full view of her. Modesty didn`t seem to last all that long in a group of would-be soldiers, even if they were all civilians who`d had to haul it into gear to fight a war that held no boundaries or rules.

Not that Leyla would be stripping down and waltzing about with everything hangin` out anytime soon, but still.

"Anyone got any idea why we`re bein` woken up this early?" She asked aloud, drawing several blank looks before someone wearing a jumpsuit with a Hacksaw Squad insignia on the right chest pocket spoke up.

"Welcome to the real world, kid-newbie. We`re on morning stand-by and evening patrol, we don`t get to sleep late," he stated, hobbling around on one foot while tying the laces of his boots.

"... Ah... Right," Leyla replied after a few seconds, feeling the stares of some of the others in the hangar starting to fade away, replaced by morning routines that hung on the bare threads that kept Champton from coming under siege.

A few disdainful comments still managed to nip at her ears though. They ranged from spoken thoughts of how she was simply a kid who thought too well of herself due to having been a Class S pilot, to snide words said about how reality would end up hitting her like a ton of bricks when and if the call to action eventually came - and everyone there knew that it would.

With that in mind, she finished tying her boot laces and stood up somewhat uneasily, stretching here and there.

She would just have to prove them all wrong, which is just what she resolved to do.

For now though, some coffee would have to do in place of acceptance by all of her piers.

["And what`s gonna happen that`s so terrible?"

The Sleepers are going to awaken, and find that they are strong...

A chill ran down his spine. Where the howling winds and horrific weather of before had once been a near comfort, in a way, the silent, eternal afternoon twilight was as ominous as any grim smile or hellish cloud of smoke could ever be.]

It nagged at him for so many reasons that he couldn`t even comprehend them all, let alone articulate them. Zeke`s being unconscious still wasn`t helping matters. Everything seemed to take on a new, deep and troubling significance, from the distant multi-colored glows of the hundreds upon thousands of tons worth of mysterious crystal that dotted the landscape to the Organoid`s lack of presence in his thoughts, even Roc`s cryptic warnings were starting to come back to haunt him a small bit.

[The trials which you will pass... Will not be easy ones.]

Why-

[To succeed, is to know victory at an impossible price.]

- did that damned Organoid have to-

[In truth...]

- be so cryptic all the time?

[They will probably be the hardest battles, that you will ever live to fight.]

"None of this feels right," he muttered out with a barely suppressed cringe, green eyes shifting from left to right in an almost paranoid sense of awareness. It felt almost as if he were walking over some kind of mass gravesite, or through a graveyard that held no tombstones. Even the stale, scentless air in the cockpit felt as if it were waiting to get him.

The movements straight ahead, performed by things near the base of the Dome, things he couldn`t scan or make out just yet, weren`t helping matters either.

["You knew who I was going to fight the last two times... What about now?"]

There had never been an answer to the question, and that nagged at him the most. Was it someone who held some kind of significance to him, or perhaps someone who held significance to Roc alone? An Ancient Zoidian, maybe?

["... What about the Sleepers then? What are they?"

Beasts who live only for destruction. They have fallen from their once lofty stations, their Bondmates lost to time. The only purpose they have left is to battle, and when they are awakened, they will bathe this land and others in a hellstorm unseen since the days of the Endtimes.

Another chill shot down his spine, Bit figured it best to stop asking questions right then and there. He honestly didn`t want to know anymore, anyway.]

Something popped from the back of his thoughts to the forefront, eyes reflexively narrowed and caught sight of something approaching in the distance.

It was a solid purple Iron Kong, covered in guns and bladed weapons that he had never seen before, with flaring green optics and sensors that stood out like sore thumbs to Bit`s eyes, even through the orange tint of the main screen.

Slowly, the Liger Zero came to a halt, golden clawed feet sinking a few inches into the hard packed snow and ash-filled grime that still blanketed almost every feature of the terrain that he could see. The Kong kept coming, starting to pick up speed as a pair of hyperbeam guns flipped over its shoulders and took aim, followed by the two shortened Supercannons that had replaced its original ballistic missiles. The buzzsaws on its wrists flipped forward and whirled to life, while its green optics lit up even brighter than before.

Bit Cloud`s tongue slowly but surely slipped into his cheek and stayed there.

A few seconds later, explosions and a fierce roar echoed through the once unnerving silence of Nyx, shattering it completely.

An orange and black lit up out in the vast wasteland of arctic desert that surrounded the Dome, yet in the tower that one man had called his 'home' for the past week or so, it was only visible as a bare speck against the grey backdrop surrounding it, as fleeting as a snowflake in the palm of one`s hand. Within a second, the orange had been replaced by more black and the smoke cloud had been blown open by a white blur, one that stood out visibly from the grey mush surrounding it.

Slowly but with a certain charisma that not even being alone could quite diminish, Vilhelm Rommel took a sip of wine, a finely aged brand that probably cost enough that it could`ve put an average student through four years of college and paid for his first car in the process.

It`s starting.

"I noticed," he replied seamlessly, green eyes tracking the white blur`s movement as part of it tinted gold. Another explosion followed, only barely audible through the inch or so of sloped, heavy duty glass that formed the outer walls of his temporary quarters, a former lookout tower that had been hastily converted into a luxury suite. Solid steel arced through the glass in perfectly positioned vertical lines, ending with a circular plate at the very top of the roof, supported by a single gigantic girter that ran to the floor. Luxury furniture, some of it borrowed from other offices, others simply built out of what was available, dotted the room, ranging from a heavy oak desk that had originally belonged to Commander Brogan, to the industrial-looking floor lamps that were placed in a perfect six-point pattern around the room.

The only thing that didn`t seem all that luxurious was the urinal tucked away in a hidden panel within the central girter.

I still don`t see why you made those last minute changes.

"The other prototypes and standards were all just taking up space and giving the base`s crew too much of a chance to escape with their lives. Bit Cloud has shown himself as gaining a substantial increase in raw ability when his emotions hit the breaking point, as they probably will before the end of his battle with the Storm Breaker. This way, we wear him down mentally and physically, thus decreasing the chance of that boost giving him a critical edge which might force the Breaker`s pilot to kill him, at the same time getting rid of any possible chance that the Dome`s crew has for escape."

There was a pause. Vilhelm took a sip of his wine and watched as the now golden blur rammed into a pack of smaller, jagged looking red ones.

"Rather simple, don`t you agree?" He asked, taking a sidelong glance in Spectacle`s direction, though he was only able to see the Organoid`s pointed snout and jagged rows of teeth in the process.

Not to me, but that`s why you`re the strategist.

"Exactly."

A few more seconds ticked by in near silence, underscored by the distant death cries of Rev Raptors, their dual pile banker units flying off or imploding all together, along with severed and broken limbs. Maimed bodies were starting to litter the hardened grime in a path leading towards the Dome.

"How long do you think it will take him to reach the kill zone?"

Probably not too long.

Sniper rifles cracked off their shots, and a few seconds later, the battered, mutilated carcass of a Snipe Master hit the ground, stoning over as the slash wounds in its chest faded away.

"At this rate, I`d give it another five minutes or so. The Breaker should be deploying right about now, too."

Another Snipe Master was hit by a shortlived barrage of impact rounds and toppled over in the midst of trying to fire its missiles. The third, and final Snipe Master let out a shriek as its shields were broken off and its body torn in two a few moments later. Vilhelm looked decidedly unamused, although a charmingly grim, unenthusiastic smirk forged its way onto his thin lipped, pale skinned face a few seconds after the trio of Snipes had been killed.

"He`s not pulling his punches this time around," he observed.

With Zeke unconscious for the duration, and with how hard his last battles have all been, I can`t say that I`m surprised, Spectacle replied with an air of snide amusement.

A few seconds passed by, Vilhelm took a slow, lingering sip from his glass, emptying it completely before setting it down on the small table standing to his side, both hands tucking themselves behind his back in an orderly fashion. It was all underscored by the howling death cries of a Konig Wolf, its stomach ripped open and internals left to fall where they may from a Strike Laser Claw. A prompt snap of the jaws to its head crushed the cockpit and silenced it for good before it had even landed.

"And so, it begins," Rommel finally stated in a hushed tone, more to himself than to the Organoid towering over him from behind.

"Stand back, please."

"If you fuck up any of his systems, I will break my leg off in your ass."

"You`ve said that six times. Just shut up and back off or you can drag the damn thing yourself, gimpy."

"Bah, whose side are you on, anyway?!"

"He knows what he`s doing, Kyle. Just look at the Fox."

"Or the Raynos."

"Or the Storm Sworder."

".... Ffffft. Fine, but if he fucks up a-"

"SHUT THE HELL UP ALREADY!" One Bill Chapman let out annoyedly, glaring knives and daggers over his shoulder at the equally annoyed, albeit significantly more busted up form of Kyle Mazemia, who looked about ready to rip his intestines out and strangle him with them.

Naturally, this was because Kyle was feeling rather protective of his Blade Liger, and who wouldn`t? He hadn`t exactly met Chapman at all earlier in the morning, and he hadn`t even seen the miracles that he was capable of either. They`d hauled him out of bed to get him to see only after Bill had repaired all the Zoids a second time, with the exclusion of the Blade Liger in question. Even though almost every Zoid currently residing in the hangar had been instantly overhauled during the morning, it was a leap of faith that Kyle was obviously somewhat hesitant to take.

Finally though, the silver haired pilot, still clad in all the bandages he`d needed to have put in place last night, simply huffed, puffed and complied. The fact that Kat looked a step shy of grabbing his crotch with a vice and squeezing it until something popped was probably a deciding factor.

"Go ahead," he stated as an afterthought, crossing his arms over his mostly bare chest and waiting impatiently.

With that, Bill placed his hands onto the broken down Liger`s front right paw and spoke up, mumbling out a few things to the Zoid and then falling into a state of what looked like deep concentration.

Eyes winced shut, but neon blue still seemed to flicker out from between their lids, his hold on the Blade Liger`s paw tightened beyond belief, until it almost seemed like skin was going to tear or metal would start crumpling.

And then the Zoid began to move.

Slowly but surely, it started to lift itself up from the steel floor, as if revitalized by something that couldn`t truly be seen, yet was still blatantly there. The battle scars across its once ivory hull began to fade away with increasing speed, until a blindingly bright, heavenly blue glow shut up all around it from the ground, almost as if it were becoming a miniature star with no heat. For seconds on end, the blurry outline of the Liger stood its ground, until finally, a roar broke the tense, awe filled quiet of the hangar.

Like glass, the light broke away, some of it actually falling to the ground, some of it flittering up into the air like a butterfly, and more of it still fading away before it could do much of anything at all, until finally, the Zoid beneath was laid bare, its mouth still open in the ground shaking cry it was still letting out.

Of the group at hand, none was more effected than the Blade Liger`s pilot, not even Bill Chapman, who dizzily stepped back from it until falling backwards, where Pierce had the presence of mind to catch him under each arm and set him down in a sitting position.

The Blade Liger had changed. It wasn`t just ivory in color anymore, it now boasted red lining its body at key points along the way. Its blades looked a little thicker, a bit longer and a bit deadlier, and its claws were now different, with each toe seperated from the other right at the base. Its impact cannon had gained a third barrel, similar to that of its smaller cousin, while its fangs had been visibly strengthened, all of them now the same striking shade of silver that colored the Zoid`s claws. Even the stabilizer caps had changed, become a bit thicker and a bit more powerful.

Although the changes seemed to be entirely aesthetic, something felt as if it were churning beneath the surface, something that made the Ivory Blade Liger feel more and more alive than before. It was almost as if the thing had become an entirely different Zoid all together, yet was still exactly the same as it always had been.

"... Someone pinch me," Kyle muttered out, practically a step shy of drooling on himself. A second or so later, his cheek was yanked and twisted and his ass felt like someone had it between a pair of pliers. Sideways glares went to both Mark and Katherine, the first of whom was threatening to tear half of the silver haired pilot`s face off, while the other was just copping a feel for no other reason than to do that.

At once, both pulled a bit, Kyle had to struggle to balance on one foot.

"Could you two stop doing that?!"

"Fine," both replied, each one giving a solid yank as they let go. As a result, Kyle toppled over sideways and let out a yelp mixed in with a string of profanity that would`ve made a sailor blush.

At about that time, Pierce finally spoke up, a voice of surprisingly casual reason amidst the Blade Liger fanboyism/fangirlism that had overtaken just about everyone else over the course of the past minute or so.

"So... Who`re we gonna put in charge?" She asked, finally finding her cigarettes and lighter.

"Eh?" Mark voiced while Kyle twitched around on the floor.

"... Well, we can`t stay here forever, and we can`t just run around like a chicken with its head cut off either," she pointed out, lighting up without a second thought. By now, Kyle had finally clawed his way up off the floor, and was presently breathing fire, spewing neon green vomit and screaming unholy curses in Mark`s general direction - all of which was ignored.

"She`s got a point," Jamie commented, having finally arrived in the hangar after spending the past hour or so taking a shower. A very, very, very cold shower. The kind that induced hypothermia in penguins. "We`ve got a hundred or more people to have to take care of, us included. The base`s supplies may hold out for a while, but without Farentown, they aren`t indefinate."

A bit of quiet followed, everyone seemed to mellow out from their former Blade Liger oggling.

"We`re gonna have to get moving soon, and when we do, we`ll need a command structure or we`ll just end up burning ourselves out and being picked off along the way by bandits," he added, walking right by the Ivory Liger with a raised brow, but no real impression made by it.

"Don`t s`pose we could just shove the job on you, huh?" Mark finally asked, tucking his hands into his pockets as the reality of the situation continued to dawn on everyone.

"I`m not leader material, just a strategist. And pilot," Jamie answered with an unusual bluntness to his voice, finally stopping in front of everyone else.

"Then we should vote on it," Abbie pointed out, rocking back and forth on her heels.

"Count me outta the running too, I ain`t much of a leader either," Mark tossed in.

"Same," Kat added.

"Count me out too, I`m just a medic and a driver," Abbie put in.

"I hate giving orders," Pierce stated bluntly. No one really wanted to be put on the spot like this, but it eventually left things to only two pilots.

"No thanks," Bill said, and then there was one.

Kyle Mazemia finally stopped spouting profanity and almost instantly straightened up. The burden of responsibility that everyone`s default 'voting' had thrown on him had hit like a ton and a half of bricks. Within all of a second, he had switched from the crazed whipping boy of Marcus Harlock to someone else all together, someone with the kind of charisma and natural authority that seemed to draw out obedience and loyalty like a magnet grasping nails from thin air. Even his voice seemed as if it had changed.

"Well then..."

There was a shortlived pause as he brought a hand up and scratched the side of his neck, just above one of the bandages in place there.

"Let`s start moving. We`ll head to Ro-" "Romeo City was totalled last night. About the same time as Farentown, I`m guessing," Bill cut in, voice a bit strained as he did so. Kyle didn`t even miss a beat in continuing.

"We`ll just head to Champton. Get everyone together in one trailer, get anyone who can help to try and help load up all the supplies we can cram into the other - fresh water, canned foods - stuff that won`t go bad without refrigeration. Abbie," he paused, glancing at the shortest of the women, who promptly glanced at him with a raised brow. "Get some people and start grabbing the medical supplies, we`ll probably need `em."

She gave only a nod, running off without so much as a word after pecking Mark on the cheek.

"Pierce-" "I`ll go dig around the pantry," she stated a bit intuitively, tucking her hands into her pockets and waltzing off after Abbie. "C`mon newb, and you too when ya can, Billy," she added as an afterthought, only to vanish into the hallway after a few more seconds.

"Billy?" Chapman half-sputtered with a rather annoyed twitch, glaring knives and daggers in the hall`s direction.

"And you?" Mark finally asked, glancing over to his shorter, albeit more skillful comrade.

"I`m gonna get some damn clothes on so I don`t look like a friggin` gimp," Kyle answered bluntly, practically sliding back into his usual manner without missing a beat.

"... Ah, right, right..."

"And I`m coming along to keep him from making an ass of himself while trying to look cool," Kat added in.

"You do realize, however," Mark paused, letting out a cracked grin that almost compared to the trademarked expression of Leena Tauros.

"Hm?"

"You`re still my bitch, chinny."

"Keep dreamin`, newbie."

Grey turned to black, Zoid after Zoid fell in a rampage towards the colossal structure known solely as the Dome. Every second seemed to bring a new chunk of debris - a severed arm, a broken leg, decapitated head or shredded tail. The focal point of this slaughter, which formed into a steady, violent trail that started at the broken remains of an Iron Kong and got worse from there, was a single black and white Liger, sleek and angular, imposing in every way, shape or form.

Alone it stood, leaving behind a defined path of destruction in its wake.

For a few moments, its pilot paused, catching his breath after impaling a Scout Fox, only to look up from the floor and see an incoming tide of Sinkers and Saber Tigers, all of them lead on by a lone Gun Sniper. With a twitch of one blonde brow, the pilot cracked his neck to the side, took a deep breath and let out a scream.

"GET OUTTA MY WAY!"

The Liger roared in support, booster panels flipped open and claws lighting up as it hurtled forward towards the mob, only to leap up at the last second. Forelegs smashed down onto the back of a Sinker, smashing it into the ground, yet the Zero was already lunging away by the time that the smaller Zoid had finished going off course, sabered teeth plunging into a Tiger`s head and tearing the whole beast off of the ground as if it were a limp rag doll caught in the jaws of an enraged predator. The Saber let out a shriek of pain and went flying into the air with three flips, only to crash back down and crush the Gun Sniper as it prepared to fire its rifle.

The group fell into disarray - Bit Cloud took advantage of it and opened up his shield. Another Sinker exploded, then another, and another after that before the shield had dropped and an uncharged claw had slapped into the side of another Tiger`s head, decapitating it in one clean blow.

The next five minutes were little more than a blur of violence. What remained of numerous Zoids` bodies flew through the air and crashed down, one after another, sometimes even in groups, but when it was all said and done, the Liger Zero continued on, stampeding over their fallen carcasses and practically flying through the air as it approached the Dome.

It wasn`t long before it had made it to the huge structure, passing underneath its shadow after countless deaths and the war cries that fuelled them, but when it did, it was greeted by a sight that sent chills down the spine of its pilot.

A warped Geno Saurer stood alone at sunset, waiting for the Liger as if they were gunmen in the Wild West of ancient times, before humans had ever even come to Zi.

In place of its original back cannons, two triple gattling rifles were mounted, the barrels of each one extending a few feet ahead of its shoulders. Gunpods, not unlike those of a Geno Breaker, were locked to its hips, with a single light gattling gun mounted to its head, a pair of machine guns situated at either side of it. The beast`s talons had been sharpened, and its hands possessed the tell-tale lines of the concealed forearm particle cannons that the Proto Breaker had used, while a large, back-tilted mortar pod, similar in shape to the one between the Panzer`s Hybrid Cannons, sat above and behind the main gattlings, unopended for the time being.

It was red, the color of blood, with the same purplish vents as most Genos, with charcoal optics and silver talons and teeth, its heavily armored tail swishing about slightly as it started to step forward, moving at a slow, deliberate pace with its jaw opened, revealing the silver tinted barrel of the charged particle cannon, drawn back in the neutral position.

The Geno lurched forward, coming to a stop over a kilometer away from the Liger Zero, feet spread, mouth opening and closing as if taking in the last rancid breaths of Nyx`s air before a slaughter. Bit replied in kind, bringing the Zero forward a few last steps and taking a readied position similar to that of a hunting lion. Both pilots and both Zoids hunched forward, waiting for some unseen cue in the seemingly eternal twilight of Hell.

It was then and there that the ground all around the bases of the Dome started to ripple and tear, hundreds of Saber Tigers, Rev Raptors, Iron Kongs and Command Wolves, even a few Heldigunners and Lightning Saixes tore themselves up from the grimey grey mush that dominated the landscape, all of them lit up by the cooling orange glow of the lava that still flowed across the battlefield to be.

Bit Cloud had walked into a trap.

He knew it.

And he didn`t care.

"If you`re my last test, you`re not gonna be half as hard as I thought you`d be," he spat, recieving nothing for his trash talk. In a way, he felt the same tingle in his skin as when he`d first fought Kale`s Geno Saurer without knowing who the other pilot was, except that the stakes now felt even higher than they had back then.

["You`re predictable."]

Before, the whole world hadn`t been unknowingly counting on him.

[The Liger`s back snapped like a twig.]

He couldn`t allow himself to make anymore mistakes. Zeke and Vega weren`t there to save him this time.

None of the Zoids clustering around the edge of the battlefield fired, making not even a sound as they seemed to watch and wait, guns at the ready, bristling for combat, but held back by the very presence of the Geno Saurer. Sun and moonlight clashed across the Zoid`s back, and finally, finally...

It roared.

Alone amidst its own numbers, imposing as tyrannical despot, holding the reigns on an army that seemed poise to die at its whim, it roared.

Confronted with a single foe like none it had ever faced before, and like none it would ever face again, the Geno Saurer X Storm Breaker roared, its war cry breaking through the former silence of Nyx like that of a tyrant king facing down the only other monarch brazen enough to confront it on its home turf.

The Liger Zero replied in kind, and their duelling voices seemed to shake the ground and the skies alike, rattling the legion of lesser Zoids to action. Ignorant of them, however, both the Zero and the Breaker charged forward, boosters flaring to life at the exact same instant, feet leaving the ground, both multi-ton bodies heaving over lava flows that would`ve burnt them alive and screaming, headed for an inevitable clash that was going to shatter lives and set the stage for the grand finale.

And above everything, as a chess master watching pawns play their roles in a game they didn`t even realize existed, Vilhelm Rommel grinned the grin of the damned, and savored every second of it.

Off in the distance, a pair of blue and red eyes narrowed so subtly that it was almost invisible, while a great, bladed crest of reflective feathers twitched upright. In an almost perverse mirror to the mannerisms of Vilhelm Rommel, he watched from on-high, senses beyond compare able to register the crack of every gunshot, the impact of every blow and the surge of adrenaline it all brought. As one among three who saw what was happening, Roc viewed the onrush of movement and desperation with an alarmingly neutral sense of calm.

The Reign of Chaos has ended, he thought to himself, though Madison was bound to hear it regardless of distance and barriers.

But the Tides of Darkness roll on...

End Reign of Chaos...




Author`s Note: A wee bit shorter than the 105kb record set by the last chapter, but HOLY FUCK-MONKEY BAJESUS HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, ROC is now, officially OVER, and hopefully it all drove you ruthlessly, murderously insane from the cliffhanger-ness. Suffice to say, the last... Half-ish of this chapter practically fell into place earlier today, and I can honestly say I`m quite pleased with it.

And yes, if you noticed it, it was intentional. Not that I`m saying what it was, but...

Heh heh... That said, ONTO T3H REVIEWS!

Chaotic-Swordsman-Brad: Glad you loved the last chapter so much, and as for Warcraft names - there really isn`t any particular, meaningful reason as to why I used them after NA. They just fit. That said, one of the prequels(when they`re written) may end up being named Frozen Throne, so take that however ya will o_O

Vega Obscura the King: God won`t save you, I`m bribing him >D

The Big Fisch: I thank Bill for the improved battle. Not only was it easier to read, but you guys have NO IDEA how much easier the damn thing was to write too o_o; Was a shame Henry got offed, but ah well. It was a good learning experience on how to handle such gigantic mofo-class battles, least for me it was. And as for the Black Shield Liger..

You`ll see. It`ll probably not have any major significance for whats left of ROC/TOD, but eventually...

And no, it`s probably not XD

Akino Ame: Nah, my lackies in the White House would never allow such a thi-...

You didn`t just read that. It was gas from Venus.

And I HTML the sucker line by freaking line, manually. And by the way, I repeat what I said last time: None of my Big Four casualties have been taken out yet(although after re-thinking everything up, it might be as many as nine or ten who I have left to axe off...). The Hellwalker Battle was a blast the second time around, it had a few stumbling points for me, but it was INFINITELY easier to write the thing the way it turned out this time. And yes, the 90+ kb chapters are satisfying, both to write and read, I`d imagine, but I`m really gonna have to tone it back a bit in TOD, at least on a few of the chapters, otherwise this crap`s gonna cause my brain to explode like a pocket nuke x_x

Tilly: Neh, dunno how to do the auto-HTML feature, so I do it all manually on my own. And I doubt most people have all the stuff on my soundtrack lists, I don`t even think Zinou does and I tend to swap songs with her every other chapter o_O; And yeah, the Specific Scenario Battles of Shiny Pointy D00m aren`t exactly easy to write most of the time without being repetitive, but I think(hope) that I`ve stumbled upon the proper formula for handling them.

And to me, the Shadow Fox sounds like its howling/barking through a synthesizer for some reason :P

Illidan: I`d be amazed if normal society can integrate itself back into itself by the time I`m done with it, let alone one freak of nature XD

*Idly shovels out some grey matter and plants a garden in Illidan`s brain.* >_> Need somewhere to dispose of the bodies, yesyes...

Rhade: Glad you enjoyed it, and especially glad just about everyone seems to`ve taken to the OCs so damn much over the course of NA and ROC alike. Here`s hoping they continue to leave a good impression on you guys. And go read Zinou`s stuff, she`s at least as good as me, if not better o_o;;

With that all said, THAT`S A WRAP, FOLKS! See ya when TOD comes out!

Sh33p out.