Disclaimers 'n' crap: Haihai peeps! Damn, what a journey it's been. I put the intro for this fic up for the sole purpose of getting the 1,000th fic spot, and now, several months later, it becomes the first COMPLETE Crystal Journeys story that I'm actually proud of. Well, I have to say, even though I'm the one who typed everything, it was you, the fans, that made it possible. Without your encouragement, I never would've continued this fic in the first place. Thank you. : ) That said, I'd just like to point out a few things. First of all, I almost NEVER do Crystal Journeys stories that take place after the year 2030 (it's kind of a "boundary year" for me), so, even compared to The Crystal Journeys itself, this chapter takes place in the future. Second, the fist-fight was written at the request of keke1, whom I am a fan of and never thought would become a fan of me. Third, Ghostwriter, I apologize in advance for this chapter. Well, here it goes! The last chapter of my first epic! Enjoy!

"Scott, please, let me do this! I know I'm ready!"

"I don't want you to get hurt, Connor!"

"I'm not a kid anymore, Scott!" Connor shot back "I'm 20! By E-Maxen standards, that means I'm an adult!" Scott sighed.

Well, he's right. I did bring Connor for the sole purpose of having him fight with me. On the other hand, I didn't think he'd want to fight alone.

"Look," said Scott "If you go up against her alone, something's bound to happen. C'mon, together we can do this. And, Connor…" Scott looked Connor directly in the eyes "…you will be able to fight these battles solo one day." Connor smiled, but a bit reluctantly.

"Thanks," he said "I know I will. Mom and dad were always happy that I had someone like you to look up to and teach me stuff I didn't learn at the Academy."

The Guardian's Academy. It was a special school set up by the Crystal Alliance to teach our children our ways. We taught them the usual academics too, but that's also where they learned to fight like us. I know it sounds like we were raising our kids from the ground up into an army, but, like Raiden always said, we're not killing people, we're destroying demons, and people and demons are two VERY DIFFERENT things.

"C'mon," said Scott "Let's go."

"No need," said a voice from nowhere "I'm right here." A streak of black shot down from the ceiling and enveloped the two men. "Let's take this battle to higher ground, shall we, gentlemen?" Scott, Connor, and the darkness suddenly disappeared. When they reappeared, they were on the roof of the structure, an abandoned old building in a lesser-traveled region of E-Max. The darkness took form and stood before them. A demon woman with waist-length gray hair and soulless eyes. Aelita.

"Scott, Connor," she said in her usual mysterious, monotone voice "How nice of you to join us."

"Cut the crap!" yelled Connor, taking a cue from Scott "We know you've been hiding what's left of Elaine within you for almost 7 years!"

"Don't blame me," said Aelita, casually "Mother wants to live."

Something about that statement set me off.

"NYYYAAAAAAARGGGGGHHHHH! DAMN YOU, AELITA!" Scott lunged at her, knocking her to the ground. She tried hurtling a wall of energy at him, but it missed and knocked Connor, hard, off his feet. He slammed into a protruding beam and fell to the ground, unconscious. "Connor! You bitch…"

"Who were you talking to, Scotty?" Scott froze.

She's talking in two voices. Elaine's in there, I know it!

Aelita drew her sword and threw Scott off her. She leaped forward; Scott raised his wrist with the bracelet on it. They collided. The bracelet flew off to one side, as did Aelita's blade. They stood and faced each other, both looking malevolent.

"There is only one way to decide this now," said Aelita in two voices. She raised her fists in a fighting stance. Scott followed suit. Aelita spoke again, this time, in Elaine's voice only.

"Show me what you've got, football boy."

They lunged again.

Scott didn't see himself as fighting Elaine and Aelita in the same body. He was just fighting Elaine. He punched her squarely across the jaw, throwing her off balance. She slashed him across the face with her claw-like nails as she stumbled and kicked him in the groin with her free leg. Recovering surprisingly fast, Scott leaned down and punched her hard in the gut. She grunted and bashed him in the face, making his nose bleed profusely. While he staggered, she got to her feet and struck a glancing blow across his back, throwing him to the ground. They fought like this for a long while. Finally, Aelita lashed out with her sharp nails, digging deep into Scott's tender neck flesh and causing him to let out a piercing scream.

Connor opened his eyes. His friend, his mentor, was in trouble and needed him. He looked a few feet away from him and saw a small glint of metal. Scott's bracelet! With every ounce of strength he had, he got to his feet, ran over to the bracelet, picked it up, and threw it.

"Scott! Here!" he yelled, before collapsing from exhaustion.

The bracelet almost looks like it's moving in slow-motion. Uh oh, Aelita's reaching for her sword…

Scott caught the bracelet in mid-air, slid it around his wrist, and summoned Switchblade. Aelita, who had just recovered her sword, spun around to face him. The two stood there for a minute. It was almost as though the emotions of the conflict between Scott and Elaine were settling into an invisible veil between them. Energy began to surge around the duo. A dark aura for Aelita, and a bright one for Scott. They lunged again, and the veil shattered. Putting every particle of emotion that she and Elaine had behind their blade, Aelita plunged the sword into Scott's stomach, making him gasp in pain. Aelita and Elaine made one more sharp upward thrust through his heart and dropped him, but before Scott hit the ground, he reached up, seized Aelita by the back of the head, and made the same motion. They both fell with sickening thuds.

To Elaine, it was as though she and Aelita were no longer on the battlefield. It was as though they had separated, become two separate beings again. They were in a vortex of dark energy, and Aelita was lying spread-eagled on the ground before her. They were both slowly disintegrating.

"Aelita!" she cried, rushing to cradle the only daughter she had ever known in her arms.

"Mother…" said Aelita, weakly, her being almost disintegrated "…I'm sorry…" And she was gone.

"AELITA!" A mother's sorrow. This was Elaine's last shriek.

"Scott! No!" Connor rushed up beside his mentor, holding his head close to him.

Normally, I probably would've survived that blow, but with all that dark energy behind it, not even I could stand a chance. Well, I suppose it's my time, anyway. I've been here too long. I've seen too many of my friends die and I've been cheated out of death more than my share of times. Elaine is gone. I can finally rest in peace. I can see Shelby again.

"You can't leave me!" said Connor. He wasn't ashamed to cry. There was no one else around to see it. Scott smiled at his student and put his hand on his face.

"Connor," he said, gently "I've done my part, now, you do yours. And…tell Michelle…I loved her…and…the guys…thanks for everything." His hand fell slowly from Connor's face, the bracelet sliding off his wrist and into Connor's open palm. When it finally fell on Scott's open, mortal wound, he was dead. Through the tears that blurred his vision, Connor looked at the bracelet in his hand, and then at Scott.

He looked more peaceful than he ever had in life.

Connor looked up into the wind, towards the clouds in the distance, and could've sworn he saw Scott and the Cliffhangers Unit smiling down at him.

The End

Seriously, writing "The End" gave me chills this morning. Well, that's it, I guess! Thanks to all who read and reviewed, I hope you enjoyed! BTW, if anyone would like to read more adventures of the Cliffhangers Unit during the war, I'll be happy to take suggestions and, who knows, maybe I'll find time to type something new up! (On top of school and homework and my research report and piano and my other long-running fics…)