"Guys!" Chisato screamed over her phone. Jan Orvue's voice answered.
"There was a WAR and you didn't invite us all? You're incorrigable! Fancy hogging a story like this for yourself!"
"How did you get here?"
Another voice answered - the voice of a small child.
As suddenly as it had begun, the Nede Chronicle theme - 'Kamikaze' - faded out again. A couple of missile systems that had begun firing at them forgot that they existed and went back to the XINE.
"Ambient music editing?" gasped Commander Revorse.
"I could still annihilate you all!" said Marietta, "The only weapon you have is the Game Over tune and you wouldn't dare use that! It would destroy your own forces as well!"
"Marietta..." Lionel bowed his head, "I did this to you, didn't I? That song I sung. This only happened because of the song. I'm so sorry... if I had known, I would never have done what you said."
"I would have shot you if you didn't do what I said." she replied calmly, pointing her gun at him.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" screamed Eruaqs, a shriek that was purely human. All at once, every XINE fell silent. Chisato looked up again. The phone buzzed with activity. Every XINE had just stopped moving, not even resisting as the defense systems tore into them. Eruaqs stood up, clenched his fists and gazed up at them, his expression a frozen flame.
"And stay the hell out of my head!" he roared, shaking his hair back into his eyes, "I ain't doin' this no more! Not 'til ya feed me! ya ain't fed me fer ages! WHERE'S MY FOOD? WHERE IS IT? I'M 'UNGRY!"
"Eruaqs!" yeleld Chisato.
"Here." Lionel rifled through his pockets, took out a chocolate bar and threw it to Eruaqs, who caught it and devoured it before wiping his mouth on his sleeve, "NO! You don't get away, you bastards! See how you like it! Not being fed! I'm gonna make it so you never not feed people again!"
"What exactly is happening?" demanded Marietta.
"This..." said Eruaqs, grinning wolfishly, "Is an 'ostile takeovah."
He pointed to the XINE, who were already suffering heavy losses, and waved his arm. They retreated as one, soaring off the planet and heading out of the galaxy, ignoring the missile systems that shot at them as they went past. Unable to contain herself, Chisato took out a microphone and held it out to Eruaqs.
"I think you owe us a complete explanation." she said.
"Well, ya see..." he began, staring pointedly at Lionel until he relented and gave him another chocolate bar, "Thing about Styx people is... our minds are kinda fractured. We're born with wossname... multiple personalities. That's why we don't go crazy on Styx. Crazy to you guys is natural to us. The XINE liked that. Ya see, they don't udnerstand people with one mind. Their hive mind, its got millions of little minds in it. So, the Overmind, she comes to me, says she wants ta negoterate."
"But she took your mind over?"
He nodded, "I kinda knew they would. But they promised me lotsa food, and I was 'ungry."
"I thought you said you weren't crazy before you left the world." sighed Commander Revorse.
"Thing is, the XINE didn't tell me ta do nothin', so I forgot they was there. Forgot it all, 'til..."
He suddenly burst into tears, throwing his arms around Lionel.
"Tria don't want me no more! Says I'm a traitor! Tria says... I've turned into little more than a XINE myself! I th... thought that maybe if I wossname... co-operated, the XINE would take me away to their world. Even if I'm just a prisoner, even if they kill me... its better than bein' in a galaxy with a goddess that don't want you no more."
Before anyone could stop her, Commander Revorse pushed Lionel out of the way and slapped him hard across the cheek.
"You ARE a traitor!" she snapped, "A traitor and a coward and a glutton and... how the hell did you break free of the XINE overmind? I mean, you didn't just break free... you took control of it! That's not possible for such a weak mind!"
"Ya see..." began Eruaqs, "Ya let somethin' in so deep, its lettin' you in as well. It couldn't get out no more. Then I was so hungry, hungry an' angry... by the time it realised what I was doin', it was too late fer it."
"The war's over, Marietta." Lionel walked over to her and looked into her eyes. She looked straight through him.
"Mr. Deguares." she said, "I believe your diagnosis to be correct. Something indeed went wrong with the memory transfer. This was caused by an imperfect playback of the audio file."
"She says your singing's crap." translated Commander Revorse.
"I wish to try again." she continued, "And again. As many times as it takes to perfect the procedure. I want all my memories back."
"See? She likes my singing after all."
"You..." said Eruaqs, pointing to him, "Thanks. Ya saved me life."
"That's nothing. I do things like that all the time back in Airyglyph." he blushed and scratched the back of his head, "I'd better be going home. Airyglyph will descend into barbaric anarchy without me. It always does."
"Yes, let's go." agreed Commander Revorse, "I've had enough of this planet."
"If you're going back to the Chronicle, you should take me with you." said Marietta, "We may have another battle on our hands. We published your entire article, Commander Revorse. Earth will be after our blood."
"The Chronicle is in danger? And you ran off to Styx?" complained Chisato, "You're the real traitor, Marietta!"
"Don't worry. I evacuated everyone before I published the article. I... think they're all in those ships above us."
"I got you into the mess, I'll help you defend yourselves." decided Commander Revorse, "The war's over. The truth is out. This is a new dawn for the galaxy. Fargett will rise again."
"What about you, Eruaqs? What are you doing?" asked Chisato.
"I'm, sorry, but..." Eruaqs hung his head, "I'm stayin'."
"I understand. This is your home." said Chisato.
"I dunno what'll happen when I go through that gate." said Eruaqs, "I may never see ya again. So, this is goodbye."
"I'll write an article about you." promised Chisato, "It'll go on the front page."
"One day I'm going to explore the Gate of Styx for myself." added Commander Revorse, "I'll be the most famous space pilot in the galaxy, as well as President of New Fargett."
"If you're hungry again, come and find me." said Lionel.
They all waved goodbye to Eruaqs as he stepped through the gate and disappeared. Then they headed back to the Revorse. The kitten mewed and chased after them. 'Sweet Time' played in the background.