When we left off…

And at the temple, Joe and Françoise faced Zaffiel, ready to settle destiny once and for all.

-&-&-&-

Riprendere

Chapter Ten (Part Two): Prestissimo

-&-&-&-&-

Sadie and Enx: Devil in my shoes!
You left me alone...let you go (repeat five times)…you left me alone…let you go (repeat six more times) You left me alone…
and you're gone...

"It's true." Mirllyne confirmed with a depressed sigh, after kicking Sadie hard. "They aren't…moving. Well, let's get on with it. The sooner we're done, the better it is for us."

Lusia shifted from foot to foot and turned over in a handstand. "It's that way. I know that he put some of the rooms underground in case anything like this ever happened. We don't have much time." She took off once more, pink hair fluttering behind her.

"I can't begin to understand what he expects to do, but maybe…maybe he thinks that without them he can stop what we've all know is bound to happen at some point. Do you know?" Mirllyne asked, running after Lusia.

"I'm not sure. I got dragged into this without warning. Several of us did, and only a few escaped alive. Clarissa…they nearly killed her by stealing magic. Xeffie ran before they got her. Ellie, Lusia, and myself were all caught…and Alexanderia they killed for a magic source. It's absolutely horrid. I helped Ellie to build the fake Death and Etoile; they were prepared to build a whole army of replica angels if they had to." Mango explained. "I don't really know any of what's going on. I wish I did so I could help sort it all out."

Zaffiel smiled. "Little Joe and Françoise, all alone at long last. You have no idea how long I've been waiting for this, my dears." She spun her staff. "We have plans, and all of them can only happen if – pardon me for morbidity – you're both dead. I intend to kill you right here, right in front of all of their goal."

"You would not dare." Kage said, grimace pasted onto her soft features. "Get away from him, you bitch. If you lay one single finger on either of them, I kill the girl."

Etoile stepped forward, beaming at Zaffiel's dilemma. In her arms she held a squirming Tsukasa, with a dagger pressed into her wrist. "One wrong move and she won't see anything accomplished. What'll it be, sweetheart?"

Tsukasa had tears and blood streaming down her cheeks. The star-shaped scar over her left eye was open, and something strange was going on with it. It pulsed gently with a green light.

Zaffiel ground her teeth together, and in one move, slammed Joe with her staff. Etoile was just as fast in unleashing Tsukasa so Zaffiel could grab her. Chaos' daughter cried out when she saw her angel's eyes – the constant grayish haze over them had cleared, revealing perfect crystal blue.

Françoise could see the confusion written in both their faces, so took the opportunity to pound her blaster into Zaffiel's skull. Tsukasa screamed and grabbed Joe by the wrist. Out of somewhere in her robes, she pulled a gun and pointed it to his head.

"You ugly bitch. You heal my Zaffiel or I swear on my life you will never have another Prometheus." Tsukasa snapped, outrage so strong in her voice that it was tangible. Kage sighed and placed a hand over the bump on Zaffiel's head. Tsukasa frowned and hesitantly lowered the pistol. Zaffiel shook her head and Tsukasa lowered the pistol, but did not release Joe.

"What is it you want with them?" Etoile demanded. "And where's your darling brother? I have business with him that I must attend to."

But it was useless. Zaffiel, Tsukasa, and Joe were gone.

((Star Kitten and Anya change keys))


Mika and Sadie: Nureta hoho wo kaze ni sarashite (I expose my wet face to the wind)
Hoshi wo mi age (Looking up at the stars)
Mune ni chikau (I vow in my heart)

"Look, come on, we have to do something!" Panthos whined. Omega sighed and turned to face him.

"We came here to do what we could. With the current situation, I think that you'd only make life more difficult…wait." Omega replied, and then held up a finger. She pointed to Albireo, standing alone and facing away from where they were. Panthos was positively ecstatic. He wrapped the thread around his fingers deftly and signaled for Omega to back up.

In seconds, swarms of angels came pouring out of nothing, and Albireo looked nothing short of shock. Panthos smirked and moved the strings for the angels to start their attack. Albireo had a look of something between shock and amusement written across his face when the hundreds of angels came flying at him. He drew his broadswords and got ready to fight the first few.

The look of pure delight on Panthos' face could not be compared to anything. He was positively gleeful. Omega sat opposite him, staring off to see if anyone was coming.

Joe could only see furious green when he next woke up. He panicked – the green he was looking at was the same color as Tsukasa and Albireo's eyes. The green moved and revealed Zaffiel towering over him.

"We aren't here to hurt you." She said. "Tsukasa just healed your injuries. You'll be fine. You have to understand – Albireo…well, I'll just say that he didn't do exactly what Tsukasa and I thought he would."

Tsukasa turned to face him as he sat up. "My bastard of a brother, I should have know something like this would have happened. Most of the mayhem we've caused has all been staged for the sake of blinding him. We mean to get you into that fucking temple if it costs us our lives."

Joe staggered to his feet. "How am I supposed to believe you! You've tried to capture and kill us several times tonight! And even before that!"

"You have to believe her. She's not lying." Zaffiel said, moving over to place an arm comfortingly around Tsukasa. "We'll take you back there in a few minutes. Your Panthos seems to be doing a terribly good job at keeping shithead occupied."

Joe looked up into the oblivion. Stars were all around him, suspended in the midnight sky. He'd never imagined anything like this, not even as a child. His mother was fighting within a five-mile radius of where he was now. And…everyone he loved was here with him.

"Okay." He said finally. Tsukasa's face burst into a huge, earnest smile. Zaffiel grinned as well, brushing a stray hair behind her ear.

"Did you hear all of that?" Etoile asked, coming out of her trance. She had been using the stars to be able to listen to what Zaffiel and Tsukasa were telling Joe, and it was nothing less than shocking to her. Kage's face held a similar look, and Françoise was trembling.

"How the hell could it be true?" Etoile demanded, stomping the ground.

"They aren't lying." Françoise confirmed. "If Joe can believe them, so can I."

"You don't have to, you know." Kage said gently, ruby eyes looking into Françoise's aquamarine ones. Françoise nodded.

"I know. But…they're so sincere in what they're saying. How could they be lying?" She asked.

"It's your call, but here they come." Etoile warned.

Crystal and Enx: Omoide no uta (By humming to myself)
Kuchi zusande (songs of memories)
Kioku wo sotto
Taba nete iku (I gently bundle up recollections)

Pandora stopped the fast run she and Poseidon were traveling at. She shook her head and craned her neck to look up at the stars, then sighed. Poseidon walked back toward her after continuing on ahead.

"What's wrong? Are you still sick?" He asked, meeting her eyes. Pandora shook her head and bit her lip in frustration.

"It's nothing much…I'm just worried. For them." Pandora replied. "Let's keep moving."

Death walked through the Dolphin, pacing across rooms. She was nervous, but knew she couldn't do a thing without risking all of their lives. Every once in a while, someone would stop by with one who had been injured, but these were infrequent and she could do nothing to keep herself occupied. Listening to everyone scream directions to one another over a mental connection was almost unbearable.

"Death?" Fate asked, entering the room the angel was currently pacing. Death turned to face the young woman.

"I was wondering…what do you think they're doing? They can't do anything, right?" Fate said, eyes wandering around the room.

"Most likely something similar to what I am," Death answered. "I'm unable to do battle without running the risk of killing every single one of them – even Joe and Françoise. Even after the children are allowed to intervene, I will not be able to…"

"What do you think of them – Joe and Françoise?" Fate asked, now sitting down.

"They're not the same as I expected them to be…no, they're much different. At the same time, though, they're the only ones who suit the description. Both of them are very kind and very accepting, just like the Prometheus and Pandora of old. No – I like the two of them. They're perfect." Death said, a ghost of a smile crossing her face. Fate smiled.

"I like them, too. When I first met them two years ago, I was skeptical of them, especially Joe. But they're different than I thought they would be. And Françoise turning out to be Pandora…it was a right turn for all of us who had been cut off form Heaven for so very long." Fate said. Death nodded.

Fate began humming softly, her eyes closed. It was the song that so very long ago, angels had sung in mourning. Death sighed and turned to look out a window, still wanting so desperately to help the progressing battle.

Mika and Sadie: Yasashi sugita (Trembling at words)
Kotoba ni yurare (that were too kind)
Namida nagashite (I want to shed tears and)
Hohoemitai (smile)

They were underground. Mirllyne held a hand in front of them as they walked through the empty halls, their footsteps echoing in the gloom. Lusia and Mango were alert, looking for the room that would help them to finally take the upper hand.

"Here it is." Mango said, stopping at a door to their right. She pressed a key code into a pad and the door slid open with a quiet hiss. Lights flickered on inside, revealing several computers and a display screen wall. Ten figures were displayed on the screen, all red. Under each one read "ISOLATED" – Mirllyne guessed that these were the ten newer cyborgs.

"Lusia, sit down. We've got a long code to be breaking in a very short amount of time." Mango said, fingers already a blur across a keyboard.

Joe, Zaffiel, and Tsukasa walked out to meet Kage, Étoile, and Françoise. Neither party was smiling, but once they were close enough to see one another's eyes, all who were not cyborgs prepared for an attack.

"I won't hurt you if you swear you won't hurt him or Françoise," Kage stated, eyes flashing dangerously. Zaffiel shook her head.

"We have no intention of doing such. The only one we want to hurt now is Albireo, and I'm certain that goal is similar to your own. All he wants is the two of you dead, and he will try to achieve that at any cost." Zaffiel said, returning her sword to its sheath. Tsukasa even nudged Joe forward toward Françoise.

Kage and Tsukasa lowered their weapons as well, but Étoile did not. She kept her sword at the ready.

"I still don't trust this. Until we have them into the temple, this isn't going anywhere." Étoile explained. Tsukasa nodded in understanding.

"I can't blame you. It was all my doing, after all. You have every right to kill me right now, where I stand. I won't try to stop you." Tsukasa said. Étoile blinked in surprise.

"No. I won't. The only one who will die by this sword is your bastard brother, you have my word." Étoile said. Tsukasa grinned.

"Let's get moving, I don't want to be the one to be close by when Albireo finds out that he's just fighting an illusion." Kage said, already starting to run again. Zaffiel was soon after, followed by Joe, Françoise, and Tsukasa.

"You know…you two really…are perfect. For this, I mean." Tsukasa said, smiling brightly. "I'm sure you've heard it…a million times…but you really, truly are."

Françoise smiled. They were almost to the temple, and as they approached, Tsukasa's smile seemed to widen.

"It will all be over soon, my darling, my dearest…" Zaffiel said, falling back to be next to Tsukasa. Both smiled as the moon climbed ever higher into the skies above.

Crystal and Enx: Okotta kizu boku wa iesezu (My injury that remained without healing)
Soko wa lonely planet (You're over there lonely planet)

Jet and Albert were standing with Oblivion, all three trying to remember which way the temple was from their current location. Around them were Lily, Tirzah, and Kim, all frozen where they had last been.

"Oblivion, would that be you?" Fear asked. Her eyes were translucent blue as she gazed unblinkingly at Jet. "You are afraid, for her." She pointed to Tirzah.

"I am…sort of. You could say that." Jet replied. Fear nodded sagely.

"It's that way." Oblivion said, pointing. "They're there, with Kage, Étoile, Zaffiel, and Tsukasa. I can't tell you exactly what's going on, but they're not fighting."

"Let's get going, then," Albert said. Oblivion nodded in agreement.

"How far in are you?" Mirllyne asked, watching Mango and Lusia's progress through the system. They'd been working non-stop.

"Well…at best, we'll only have part of the code cracked before it wears off altogether. I don't know when exactly that'll be…but everything's probably going fine. No need to worry." Lusia said, not pausing to turn around. Her fingers continued their pace along the keyboard, eyes glancing up every once in a while to look at the screen.

(Kage, how are things going up there?) Mirllyne asked, hoping she'd be able to get through.

(Fine – but we need you. Zaffiel and Tsukasa are on our side and are trying to help us, but none of us are currently official angels. Are you able to see us?) Kage asked in return. Mirllyne glanced around. She wasn't needed here – so what was the risk of leaving to get outside?

(I'm underground right now, but I'll be up there in a few minutes. Just hold tight, okay?) Mirllyne said, already walking toward the door. "I'll see you guys soon, okay?"

"Later," Mango said, waving a hand.

Mirllyne took off at a sprint down the hall in the direction they'd come, hoping no one had seen her come down here with the other two girls. Indigo flames suddenly engulfed her and she found herself face-to-face with Kummi.

"What do you want with me, you stupid bitch?" Mirllyne snarled, sending her own flames out against Kummi's. Kummi laughed.

"If you can't get out there, then they'll never be able to enter! Maybe I'll even kill you down here, and then I'll be able to return and help Albireo!" Kummi laughed insanely, charging toward Mirllyne with flaming fists.

"This isn't right…she should be here by now." Kage muttered, looking all around for the younger angel. She stumbled suddenly, inhaling sharply. Joe looked at her in mild panic.

"Are you alright?" Françoise asked politely. She noticed Kage grasping at her shoulder, and under the slender fingers, a damp spot.

"She's bleeding." Zaffiel said. "Crap…your sister better get here soon. Panthos is getting tired."

((Star Kitten changes keys))

Mika and Sadie: Kagirareta sekai no naka (Inside the restricted world)
Anata wa ima nani shiteru no (What are you doing?)
Mitasarenai yokubou wo (Being a bit selfish,)
Chotto shita wagamama butsukete (you relieve your unsatisfied desires)

Albireo was beginning to feel only slightly exhausted, but Panthos was nearing unconsciousness from all the energy he'd used. Omega sat next to him, pouring her magic into his as best she could. Both were nearly depleted.

"'Mega, I don't know how much longer…" Panthos whispered, straining to keep his eyes open. "I can do this. He's too…too…strong…"

His eyelids slid shut and Omega gasped. This was it. They'd done it as long as they could, but now Panthos had fainted. No one but he could control the illusion threads, and it would be foolish for her to try with as little energy as she had left. So, without one more thought, she too fainted.

Just beyond where they now lay, Albireo took a deep breath and laughed maniacally. He looked up to see the stars and moon, just as before. A lone angel was flying overhead, and this one was not an illusion. It was Polaris. She looked down to see him and immediately began to climb higher into the skies.

"Not so fast, little angel," Albireo hissed, aiming a finger at Polaris. A bolt of blood red light burst forth and shot Polaris cleanly through her right wing, causing her to plummet from the skies above. Albireo smirked and set off to meet his sister, Prometheus, and Pandora at the temple.

"I've got you," Akio said, slowing Polaris' fall. She touched down to the ground gently, blood seeping out of her wing. Rona held her hands over the wound and the flesh began to weave itself back together, though the patch still remained bare of feathers.

"We need to go," Rona said. "Carry her, she'll still be too weak to walk."

Mirllyne was climbing the ladder to leave the scorched underground hallways, also leaving a collapsed Kummi behind her. Her own hair was badly singed and she had several burns, few of which were severe. As she hit the surface, she noticed that something had changed. There was no one anywhere near her, and almost all fighting had ceased. She lifted herself out and looked around, nervous now about how long she'd been fighting Kummi.

(Kage?) She asked urgently. (What's going on?)

(Nothing so to speak of. Get yourself over here as fast as you can, we need you. Albireo's on his way as well, so you have to teleport yourself.) Kage answered. In seconds, Mirllyne was standing next to her.

"What happened? What's wrong?" Mirllyne demanded as soon as she saw Kage grasping at her shoulder, breathing short and harsh.

"I should ask you the same thing, Mirllyne. I'll be fine, don't worry about me. Prepare yourself. You're about to go somewhere no one has been in a very, very long time." Kage said, glaring at her.

"Joe…before we go anywhere…" Mirllyne said, biting her lip and looking away. "I'm your aunt."

"What?" Joe demanded, looking at her. She turned to face him again, and he noticed for the first time that her eyes were the exact same hue as Kage's, and as his own.

"Kage's my older sister! You've got to understand, I couldn't tell you! You'd be too worried!" Mirllyne explained rapidly. She looked desperate. "Please, Joe…if I'd have told you any sooner, you'd have acted entirely different. Kage asked me not to tell you if we ever did meet…and I promised her."

"What a touching story. Save it for Satan."

((Anya changes keys))

Crystal and Enx: Ikiteiru dake datte (You say you're just living...)
Totetsumonai kotona no ni ne (even though it's an unreasonable thing to say isn't it?)
Koibito no aijyou toka yakimochi ni (Lovers' love and so forth with jealousy)
Toki wo torare namida nagashi (the moment is seized tears shedding)

"YOU!" Tsukasa shrieked, calling all the magic she had to her palms and holding them out. Zaffiel held her staff out, prepared to back Tsukasa up the whole way. Albireo smirked at them.

"You think you can do anything against me, you pathetic little fool?" He asked, taking a step. He was only a breath away from Tsukasa. "You were never able to do anything properly. This is just another example.

"We need to get in. Ignore him and let's go." Étoile hissed, nodding toward the gates.

"I heard that!" Albireo shouted, shooting another burst of magic at Étoile. However, she was ready. She pulled a revolver out of the back of her skirt, took aim, and fired. The bullet was flying at a supersonic speed, pulsing blue with her magic.

"RUN!" She shouted, and they broke out sprinting for the temple gates. They weren't too far away – only about 200 meters – and both Joe and Françoise were being carried by one of the angels. The angels stopped at the gates, placing Joe and Françoise on the ground. Mirllyne walked to the left pillar and Étoile to the right. Just as they were about to press their hands to the pillar, an invisible hand pressed Mirllyne flat to the ground.

"You bastard," Étoile muttered, still facing the pillar. "Stay here. Don't move, no matter who tells you to. I don't care if it's Kage. You will stay here."

She turned, and in both her hands were revolvers. She shot in rapid succession at Albireo, who dodged each one. Kage looked at her, wanting everything to work. Struggling, she stood, and pulled a gun out of a holster on her leg. She closed one eye and took as best of aim as she could, then fired. The bullet struck her target right in the back. Albireo turned around and faced her.

"Let's go, bastard." Kage hissed, clapping her hands and pulling another sword out of the ground.

"Mirllyne! Hold still!" Étoile shouted, closing her eyes. Mirllyne nodded weakly in response; all air had been pressed out of her lungs. Étoile took a deep breath and her magic circle lit up below her feet. Slowly, Mirllyne began to sit up, and her lungs inflated with huge breaths of air.

"I owe you one," Mirllyne said, grinning at Étoile. Étoile gazed solemnly at Kage, who was steadily growing weaker and weaker. Mirllyne, though, was looking to Zaffiel.

"Tsukasa…" Zaffiel said, holding the girl tightly. Tsukasa was crying.

"No, no, Zaffiel, you don't have to! No! They'll be fine, no, no, NO!" Tsukasa sobbed, clenching her angel. Zaffiel pressed her head to Tsukasa's, tears dripping down her cheeks as well.

"I have to, my darling. I have no choice, and besides, we'll see one another soon." Zaffiel said, kissing Tsukasa. Tsukasa kissed her back, then stepped away.

"HEY, BASTARD!" Zaffiel bellowed. Albireo reared, having been about to attack Kage. "COME OVER HERE!"

He began walking, and suddenly, the sun began to rise behind Zaffiel. "You've had one life too many, and I've been the cause of that. I'll be the one to see to it that you never live again!"

Sunlight began to bloom behind her, silhouetting her frame. Winds came sweeping in out of nowhere, binding Zaffiel in invisible chains. Albireo coughed up a rose-pink substance and rain began to pour out of nowhere. Tsukasa sobbed harder than ever as Zaffiel screamed in agony. Albireo continued to cough as the winds began to die back down, lowering Zaffiel to the ground. Her eyes were dull and her skin ashen. Tsukasa ran toward her, sobbing brutally into the angel's dead body.

"Let's go." Étoile and Mirllyne pressed their palms to the stone pillar. Slowly, the gates swung open to admit them. "We're waiting for you, Prometheus and Pandora. Go ahead, we'll be right behind you."

((Both switch keys and MAX THE VOLUME!))

Mika and Sadie: North, East, South, West
Hontou no ai natsukashii kotoba ni mayoi (True love lost in nostalgic words)
Ima kangaete mireba (if I try to think now,)
Kimi wa hitori de odotteita... (you were dancing alone...)

Joe and Françoise's hands were laced into one another, and they gazed into one another's eyes. Scarlet beams of light were lighting their path. They walked up a short flight of stairs to a small area where there was only a perfectly square slab of rock above their heads.

"STOP THEM!" Albireo screeched. Enala came darting out of nowhere. Étoile and Mirllyne entered the gates, which slammed shut behind them. Enala began performing the most advanced magic she could to try and enter, but nothing would work. Étoile looked up the path where golden light was just beginning to shine.

"This is it," She whispered to Mirllyne.

Without a single word, Joe kissed Françoise.

The sun's golden and topaz rays exploded all around them, stars still twinkling far above. The rain slowed to a drizzle, then stopped altogether. A single magic circle of blazing white light sparkled below their feet as some invisible force lifted them from where they stood. Their foreheads touched and they smiled to one another, lost in one another's embrace. Their tattered uniforms were replaced with royal clothes, and a golden circlet weaved itself into each of their hair.

"I…I…" Kage was weeping, standing just outside the gates. She smiled, all thoughts of pain miles away.

Their feet finally touched the ground again, and they were still smiling. All around them, faces were beaming. Mirllyne began to clap, tears streaming down her face. Étoile clapped as well, and applause followed them down the path. The gates swung open once more, and Kage stood ready to greet them with open arms. She hugged them both in turn, then together.

"Joe, Françoise…words can't express…" She said, ruby eyes glittering with tears. "Thank you."

Mirllyne and Étoile walked out of the temple, both elated. It felt like Albireo had not existed for weeks, years, centuries. Akio and Rona rushed toward them, Polaris positively thrilled with the events that had so recently transpired.

"Congratulations," Mirllyne said, too happy to raise her voice. "You did it."

Crystal and Enx: 21st century hontou no ai (21st century True love)
Furite kuru hikari wo miyou (Should I watch the light fall down?)
Nan ka ime-ji wo tsukamou (Should I grasp some image?)
Nan ka fure-zu wo sagasou (Should I look for some phrase?)

An explosion of black brought them all back to reality. Albireo stood flanked by Enala, Fiella, Kummi, and Arien. Arien held Tsukasa, who had been gagged so she couldn't scream for help. The scar above her eye was burning with green light and dripping dark blood.

"Well. You may be Prometheus and Pandora, but that doesn't mean you're going to live past tonight. Zaffiel took what power she'd originally given me when they resurrected me…but that's no matter. I'm still powerful enough to kill the two of you!" Albireo crowed. Tsukasa kicked and fought against her captor now more than ever, eyes desperate.

"Kill her." Albireo said. Arien drove a dagger into Tsukasa's neck, and just as she did, green light exploded from the scar. Arien dropped her like a hot bag of coals and Tsukasa writhed on the ground in pain. Albireo stepped forward and kicked her, and as he did, green light came gushing from his mouth. It solidified and dripped to the ground, forming a puddle there. Finally, Tsukasa fell limp, mouth hanging open and face drenched in blood.

"Give up now and we won't hurt you." Kage ordered. Albireo looked around. All of his angels were being restrained, all with weapons help up to them. Albireo took off running, pursued closely by Kage and Étoile. Mirllyne was close behind them, Excalibur drawn and ready to kill.

"Well great, what are we supposed to do now?" Artemis pouted, suddenly standing next to Joe. Joe looked at her, startled.

"Joe and Françoise! Prometheus and Pandora! Congrats!" Apollo shook Joe's hand and kissed Françoise's. "You'll be the greatest thing to happen here in Heaven since…since, well, Albireo died."

(Hurry, get into the Dolphin. Albireo set off a self-destruct for all the tunnels he made for his headquarters.) Kage warned.

With all the distraction, the four angels had broken free and were making a run for it. However, they met Jet, Albert, and Oblivion, none of whom looked happy. Chang came up behind them, letting a warning flame loose. Pyunma, GB, and Geromio came to stand next to them.

In seconds, Arien was fighting against Jet and Pyunma, Fiella was matched with Geromio, GB and Chang had Enala nearly begging for mercy, and Albert was finishing Mirllyne's work on Kummi.

"They do good work, don't they?" Artemis asked her brother. He laughed and nodded.

Crystal and Enx: Sagasanakute iikarane dakara (If you don't look for it, it's fine, alright?)
Watashi no koreppocchi no yume nante (Therefore, since my so-called "small dream" is just broken)
Kakera dake de iikarane soshite (fragments, it's fine, alright?)
Ai wo dare ka ni agete hoshiino (So, do you want me to give my love to someone?)

Death was now outside of the Dolphin, but stuck with Fate for good measure. They found Etaf, collapsed on the ground, which Fate had been understandably upset about. Fate had teleported her back to the Dolphin so nothing would come of her.

"Death? Is that…" Fate began to ask. She saw purple hair splayed out across the ground, and as she walked closer, saw the forms of Omega and Panthos. She knelt to check if they were still alive and breathed a sigh of relief when she found that they were.

Albireo grabbed at Kage, but missed by a few inches. She clapped her hands and swung for him, hopping to transmute his clothing into something else. Étoile reloaded one of her revolvers and began firing again, hopping to finally gain the upper hand in their insane three-on-one.

If Mango and Lusia could hear what was going on in the halls outside, they certainly didn't show it. Scorch marks were left up and down the walls, as were deep dents from swords swinging all over the place. There was no clear entrance or exit, and all the doors were sealed off.

"You're going to die tonight, bastard," Étoile said, furiously slashing her sword at Albireo. He ducked just in time to miss it and it found purchase instead in a keypad. Red lights began flashing all over, causing Étoile to swear loudly.

Mango and Lusia burst out of a room nearby, eyes wide in confusion. Another girl tumbled out of a door further down; she had long dark brown hair and dark green eyes that were clouded with sleep. All three looked at one another, then began to run toward the exit. The four who had been fighting were right behind them as the halls began to implode.

Oblivion could feel it, and Fear could as well. Oblivion gazed into Fear's now golden eyes. Death was getting closer to them, and with her was Fate.

"What's going on?" Fate asked Oblivion. Oblivion shook her head.

"I wish I could tell you – but this isn't of a natural cause. Could they have actually gotten underground, and could they have destroyed whatever's down there?" She asked. It was Fear's turn to shake her head.

"The last thing that Kage said was about getting to the underground portion of their old headquarters and setting them to destruct. I am not sure if this came to pass, but if it did, we will all need to get away as soon as we can. Especially taking into consideration that we have Prometheus and Pandora with us." Fear said calmly, shifting to look at Joe and Françoise. They were nervously glancing around, looking for anyone.

(GET OUT OF HERE!) Mirllyne screamed in all their minds, frantic. Death and Fear locked eyes.

Mika and Sadie: Nigete onegai moshi ima nani mo kamo kuzurete (Please run away! If everything crumbles now)
Sukui motomeru shigunaru de saemo (even if my distress signal)
Watashi no toiki saemo todokanakutemo (and my deep sigh won't be answered)

It all seemed to happen in slow motion: the slab of rock at the temple began to shake, then it began to slip off the four pillars supporting it. As it hit the ground, it crumbled, and the pillars around it began to break apart as well. The ground began to tremble.

Joe grabbed Françoise's hand and they started to run, hoping to find somewhere that wasn't affected by the underground explosions. Akio and Rona were with them, and Polaris was flying only a few inches above the ground to avoid the uneven ground. As they ran, they saw Death, Fear, Oblivion, and Fate. Between the four, Panthos and Omega were being carried.

"Joe! What's going on?" Ra called, chasing after him. Fate looked back in surprised, remembering that the last time she'd seen one of the newer cyborgs, they'd all been frozen where they stood.

"It's a long story! Just keep running!" Polaris said, not quite ready to offer an explanation quite yet about all that had happened. They passed Sadie, Lily, Tirzah, Kim…all of the third generation was moving again.

Out of nowhere, Kage pulled Étoile up out of the ground, and Mirllyne jumped clear of it carrying three humans. Just as Kage was about to slam the door leading down shut, Albireo jumped out as well, causing the girl with dark brown hair to hit him over the head as hard as she could with a nearby rock. He wobbled, but did not go down. The chase continued, this time only Kage and Étoile running after him.

"JOE!" Mirllyne shouted. She began to run with the three girls in tow toward the small herd of people.

"Who…who are all you people? What in God's name is going on?" The girl with dark brown hair asked.

"Who are you?" Mirllyne demanded. They continued to run all the while.

"I'm Ellie! Why are those people trying to kill Albireo, and why didn't they come sooner to do that? Why is Heaven crumbling?" Ellie asked, keeping pace easily.

"They're Kage and Étoile, and they're angels! Heaven is being destroyed because of that bastard you were working under! It's a long story!" Mirllyne answered, jumping to avoid a rock jutting up. Smaller groups were being formed again, and the fallen were being put onto backs as to be carried.

"We broke the virus! All of the cyborgs should be capable of movement once again!" Lusia called. Mirllyne nodded. This was good, maybe they could help again.

"Oh, shit. Where the hell did Joe and Françoise go?" Mirllyne asked, shaking her head. If they got in the way of Albireo, it was possible that they could be killed…and after everything, that would be the absolute worst-case scenario that could happen.

Crystal and Enx: Akai sora wo jiyuu ni tobu tori ga (The birds that fly freely in the red sky)
Hane wo yasume kimi no soba ni nemuru (sleep by your side resting their wings)
Yume no naka de kimi wo sagashi mitsuke (in my dreams, they search, finding you,)
Itoshii lonely planet (My dear lonely planet)

Joe looked up to see Dal and Hikari flying not to far overhead. But soon another being was flying overhead, and this one had two inanimate forms with it.

"You die here and now, Prometheus and Pandora!" Albireo shouted, directing several bolts of black down to strike Joe and Françoise. Joe found that he too could shoot magic like the others, so took aim and shot a few balls of scarlet up toward Albireo. The two inanimate forms fell and landed none too gently on the ground; they turned out to be the fainted forms of Kage and Étoile.

White light struck Albireo, causing him to fall to the ground as well. He landed on his feet, and above, Hikari cursed. Dal landed next to Joe.

"Thank God…Thank God…I thought he'd killed you…" She whispered, looking absolutely terrified. She crumpled and fell to the ground, Albireo standing and smirking behind her. Joe aimed a kick for his legs.

"Oh, so that's what you want? So be it!" Albireo swung a fist, and in no time, the two were fighting. Joe could tell that this would be the last of his strength going now, and he directed all of it on destroying Albireo.

Françoise gasped as they neared her, and took a well-aimed punch at Albireo. His neck snapped, but he laughed and snapped it back. Étoile began to sit up, arms shaking as she pulled her sword closer to her body. She watched as Joe, Albireo, and Françoise fought, knowing what she was going to do. Still shaking, she stood.

Albireo turned to face her. Étoile smirked, held up her sword, and drove it through his heart. His eyes bulged. Étoile leaned in and kissed him.

"You always did want me to do that, but I never would. Call it the kiss of death, and me kissing you farewell. And this time, I'm assured that you will never live again." She snarled, then pulled her sword out. Albireo fell to the ground, then disintegrated into a pile of black ashes. Rain began to pour relentlessly. Étoile sighed, closing her eyes and breathed heavily.

"Are his little…bitches gone?" She asked.

"I'm not sure," Joe said. "But we'll finish them off, don't worry. Thank you, Étoile."

"Thank you, Joe. I'll see you…" Étoile said, but never finished. She fainted.

"Ready?" Joe asked Françoise. She smiled tiredly and nodded.

"Whenever you are."

Mika and Sadie: Amai toki ni yurare sora wo nagame (Trembling in sweet time, gazing at the sky)
Nemuru yoru no ame ni namida nagashi (Hiding tears in the rain of the sleepy night)
Kako wo kabai itamu kizu wo ieshi (Covering up my past, healing my aching injury)
Asu wo kesazu ni ikireru kana... (Without skipping tomorrow, I think I can live...)

Fiella fell, and Enala was short to join her on the ground. With one final kick, Kummi went down, and at long last, Arien did as well.

"Joe! There you are!" Jet called, seeing Joe coming out of acceleration with Françoise. "They're all gone! All of 'em!"

Joe faltered for a moment, feeling a burning sensation. He looked at his leg, and sure enough, indigo flames licked at it. He reached for the nearest weapon so he could fight Kummi, who was standing once again.

"Pathetic. Downright pathetic. Prometheus doesn't have a weapon?" She asked, circling. With one fluid movement, a tornado of flames was tearing across toward Joe, who was having trouble standing on the shaking ground. He dodged the flames, managing only to get licked across his back. Françoise had snuck away.

"You just don't know when to give up, do you?" Kummi asked, now firing more flames. "Not in Tokyo, not at the gates, not ever! And stupid little Mirllyne, she doesn't know when to give up either!"

Joe was no longer fighting for offense. If he got away with his life, he'd be eternally grateful. He was thoroughly exhausted from fighting Albireo. The sky was scarlet above him with the sun still just rising, rain pouring out of nothing.

Kummi suddenly stumbled. Behind her, Françoise had hit the back of her legs with a fairly large rock, giving Joe just the advantage he needed. With a finalizing punch, Kummi fell. There was cheering from all around.

"It's over," Françoise said, resting a hand on Joe's shoulder. He smiled, worn out but content.

"It is." He and Françoise kissed again, completely unashamed by it. Rain continued to fall, drenching them completely. But it didn't matter. Albireo was gone. Things would return to normal for the angels.

"Joe? Joe? Are you okay?" Someone's voice was asking. Purple spots bloomed across his vision and he felt Françoise's hand slip off his shoulder; there was a thud somewhere. The voice called his name again, pitch climbing higher and higher each time. More and more purple clouded his vision…

"Sleep now, Joe…"

And with that, he fainted.

((LOSE CONNECTION))