Well I'm ready to finish this story and I'm very happy with the way it's gone. Not as easy to write this one as it was my other stories but overall it's been a good ride. I'm proud of it and hope you guys enjoyed reading. Enjoy the last chapter!

SIDENOTE: I am about to post my new story as soon as I am done here. Ifanyone is interested in another good read from me to you check it out! It's entitled 'My Bad Luck' and I'm very very excited to work on it.

Chapter 25

Rising Again

Roxas took a deep breath as he was finally released from the back of the ambulance and was met with a sight he'd never imagined. The beautiful six-story society had crumbled to a hideous pile of rubble and was almost entirely consumed in flames. He escaped the entire ordeal with only one gunshot wound to his abdomen and a doctor told him he was lucky. Two inches higher and he would have been killed, two inches lower and he probably wouldn't be walking right now. In the ambulance he was also hooked up to an IV and forced to take vitamins and other supplements his body had been deprived of during his past week in the concentration camp. Again they told him he was lucky to have survived. Roxas didn't think he was very lucky though. His entire life had been one big series of accidents, racial tension, criminal activity, health problems, and financial struggle. Admittedly the Cerberus society had helped just as much as it had encouraged these problems but at least the society had served as a stable world for him to live in. It was cold and he grabbed his jacket off the back of the ambulance, carefully pulling it on to avoid agitating his freshly stitched wound and block out the cool weather as he wandered towards the barricade around the society. Civilians on the island had gathered around the front gate to watch the commotion and police formed a thick security line to prevent them from entering. With a dozen ambulances and half a dozen fire trucks surrounding the building they all recognized as the most significant landmark of their hemisphere though it was causing quite a commotion. It looked like almost every doctor in town was being kept busy on the grounds, tending to severely injured dogs who all seemed confused as to what happened while more injured and killed were hauled out of the building by firefighters. Some of them had been burned beyond the point of recognition and Roxas cringed when he thought about the fate of those who hadn't been able to escape the building.

"Keep your head up."

He immediately recognized that voice and looked over only to see Luxord standing further down the barricade. Both of his arms were bandaged from palm to elbow and Roxas imagined he must have put his arms up to block the flames as he escaped at some point. He was leaning to the side a bit, a posture very unlike him, and Roxas knew he was still trying to stand straight on his own without a crutch despite his severe injuries during the explosion in Sora's room. Luxord was watching him and for the first time Roxas didn't feel intimidated or falter under his gaze, "What for?"

Luxord chuckled and tucked his hands into his jacket pockets before telling him casually, "Do you remember what I told you when we were at the television station?"

"As Axel's personal secretary I'm expected to look and behave professionally all in good favor of the Cerberus society," Roxas remembered perfectly and Luxord added the last bit he left out, "Regardless of your opinion or race."

"Regardless of my opinion or race," Roxas repeated as he took a deep breath and looked back to the society. He knew the day was just beginning despite the fact the world seemed to be ending. Axel might be gone, the building too, but that didn't mean the Cerberus society was and it was only a matter of time till command fell to a new hand and they began to rebuild. They couldn't have things like the death of a leader affecting them. They were Cerberus elites; strong, feared, and looked up to by dogs and civilians alike. They were not supposed to feel things like grief. They were not supposed to collapse to the ground and let out sobs and tears held back so strongly. But grieve Roxas did. He was not strong and he wanted so badly to mourn and not care who watched him, but that wasn't what Axel would have wanted, so instead he stood straight and looked down so nobody would see him crying. It didn't matter how close he'd been to Axel because when it came down to it he was just another Cerberus dog. He felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced over only to see it belonged to Luxord. He wasn't using him as support, instead it was a gesture of condolence and Roxas laughed a little in his throat, "You could have stopped this…you could have stopped Xigbar a long time ago."

"Probably," Luxord mused, "But this is where we are now and all I can do is offer you my sympathies."

It was quite possibly the only sincere thing Luxord had ever said, to Roxas or anyone else for that matter. All he could do was nod his head and walk away from the situation. It was getting more difficult to remain composed and silent and he knew he couldn't risk being seen in his present state. As he walked along the barricade listening to the crackling fire and noise of the firefighters as they worked to put it out Roxas saw an empty ambulance with the lights off. He assumed that since it wasn't in-use and appeared to be without power that the battery had died. Quickly he looked around to see if anyone was watching before rushing over to the open doors. Just as he put his foot up on the bumper to climb in it occurred to him what he was doing. He was just going to lock himself in the ambulance and cry, probably destroying anything he could get his hands on in his blind grief. As much as he wanted to he knew that it wouldn't bring Axel back and if anything it would only make him feel worse and more alone than before. Crying would get him nowhere. He could almost hear Axel mocking him for his foolish behavior and telling him that tears were a sign of weakness. Silently he laughed and turned around, falling back and sitting on the bumper gracelessly. As Roxas looked around the busy site he wondered where he would go next. He never graduated high school so his options were limited, and he doubted what he'd learned at the Cerberus society could be applied in any other field of work; that being said though he didn't think he could handle sticking around this place. There were too many memories, both good and bad, and he doubted there would be a place for him here without Axel.

"Hey! We need a hand over here!"

"Doctor the patient is convulsing!"

"Are there any more EMTs available on this island?"

Roxas watched the doctors working hastily and was quite impressed by how determined they seemed to save the lives of perfect strangers. In a way they were similar, fighting for what they stood for and doing everything in their power to complete their mission. Sure they weren't feared, but they were respected and Roxas stood up and pushed his sleeves up, "Hey! What can I do to help?"

From further down the barricade Luxord watched Roxas rushing to help the medics in anyway possible, from holding an injured limb in place as it was splinted to cleaning and bandaging a wound. It was the simple things but it was clear the busy medics were grateful for the help. Luxord felt someone lifting his arm and heaved a sigh as Larxene forced a crutch under his arm, "Don't be stubborn. If you're going to stand here and watch the fire you should at least support yourself properly." Fortunately Larxene had escaped with only a couple minor wounds and she had since changed out of her stealth uniform and back into her usual Cerberus attire. She spotted Roxas and scoffed a little, "What's he doing?"

"Distracting himself and trying to help," Luxord told her before looking back to the fire, "Sort of like you."

"I am not distracting myself," Larxene replied abruptly. Luxord shook his head though and pointed out, "You redid your makeup, quite thoroughly too. Distraction."

Larxene wanted to say something but instead she just smirked and joined him by the barricade, "Well someone has to look presentable when it comes time to break the news to the public and you, sir, look like hell…I can't believe it's all gone though." It would be rebuilt in time but like Luxord she knew the society wouldn't be the same. For almost an hour they stood there in silence watching the fire which seemed to refuse to die. Luxord was the first to notice it but Larxene was quick to pick up on what was happening before them too, "I…is that?"

"The fire isn't the only thing that refuses to die I guess," Luxord mused as a grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. Someone was walking right out of the building, down the stairs as if the building were in the same condition it had stood in for years. "Roxas," Luxord called over his shoulder to where Roxas was still kept busy with the many injured dogs. He'd just finished disinfecting and wrapping the arm of an injured first division dog, looking up to see what Luxord wanted while wiping sweat off his brow. The third division leader nodded his head towards the burning building Roxas had been deliberately trying to ignore and Roxas hesitantly looked over to see what he was gesturing to. Several firefighters rushed to his side but he waved them off and barked an order in his usual way before continuing to the barricade. Roxas was on his feet instantly and he bolted straight for the barricade, putting a hand on the divide and jumping it easily. A police officer tried to stop him for only a moment before he saw exactly what Roxas had seen. Walking tall and without a scratch or burn on him was the presumed dead Axel C. Tybalt. His uniform was covered in bullet holes and bloodstains but none of that seemed to have affected him at all. Even if he had been injured Roxas wasn't sure if he'd have been able to stop himself from throwing himself at him. His body was freezing despite having just emerged from the fire but it was all so confusing Roxas didn't know where to begin his questioning, "You're alive?" It was a stupid question. He could feel Axel wrap his arms around him tightly and feel his heart beating against his chest only to resonate within Roxas' own. Roxas gripped the material of his filthy, once spotless white dress-shirt now riddled with bullet holes and blood which was still wet to the touch. He put his head against Axel's shoulder and breathed deeply the smell of smoke and mint. Axel moved his hand up and put it on the back of his head, burying his fingers in the mess of hair; a simple gesture which finally broke Roxas and he sobbed into his shoulder silently.

"You look like you've been to hell and back," they heard Luxord comment from the barricade, his crude remark his own way of letting Axel know he was glad to see him.

Axel just laughed, making Roxas smile unintentionally and feel better, "Yeah, something like that." Luxord pushed aside a portion of the barricade and Axel let go of Roxas, instead taking hold of his hand and leading him through the opening. Roxas followed closely at his side and Larxene was already calling them a cab.

"Your orders sir?" Luxord asked and that was when things began to feel normal again for the first time in over a week. Axel didn't waste time thinking and Roxas couldn't hide his smile, still in utter disbelief of what was happening, "Designate Kings hospital the treatment facility for all injured dogs. Dismiss all those with a recovery times greater than two days as usual and put a rush on the application process to fill the vacancies. We will be using the courthouse as a temporary meeting place until the society gets rebuilt and properly equipped for use. Do not let wind of what happened tonight leave the island until I give notice and approve a cover story."

"I will have a selection of cover stories ready for your approval within the hour, and further contact our architect to put a rush on the rebuild," Luxord told him with a nod. The car Larxene had hailed pulled up in front of them and he opened the door, Axel getting in and Roxas hurrying around to get in on the other side. Luxord shut the door and stepped back as the car sped off the grounds. Larxene joined him again and crossed her arms, not sure what to make of it all, "I saw him die Luxord…"

"Well Axel has been known to surprise us," Lurxord didn't think it was wise to look at this situation in a pessimistic or skeptical way. Neither did Roxas, who was quick to scoot as close to Axel as possible and wrap his arms around him again. Axel put one arm around him loosely but said nothing which would make the situation any less unusual. Roxas could feel the bullet holes in the back of his shirt and still smell the fire on his skin, "I can't believe you're okay…Back in your office I was so sure you…but you're not! I mean you were, but now-" Roxas silenced quickly when Axel finally looked down at him. He was deep in thought, agitated or perplexed by something he wasn't talking about. Roxas knew that look too well but refused to look away for fear if he did this would all fall apart like a dream. Axel simply stared at him for several minutes in silence and Roxas just kept smiling up at him, Axel's seriousness finally giving out with a sigh, "…I'm glad you're okay." Roxas put his head against Axel's chest and just listened to the heart beating against it steadily. That wasn't what Axel wanted to say, the both knew it, but Roxas wouldn't pester him about it. Axel was alive and that was all that mattered to him.

"There! That's him!"

Sora heard people shouting as soon as he broke the surface of the freezing water, his vision and head fuzzy from oxygen deprivation. Despite his weariness and body's desire to sink he knew he had to get to the shore. He felt as if there were weights attached to each of his limbs as he pushed to the shore and he was relived to feel two sets of arms pulling him from the water even if only into an even colder environment. Where had his uniform gone? Had it been destroyed in the fire? If so then why didn't he feel any burns on his body? Several questions bothered him but the biggest was, "Where am I?" His voice sounded much quieter than he thought it would be but when he saw Demyx come rushing into view he understood. Hastily he looked back at the seemingly bottomless water he'd been pulled from, watching other pale and scared looking naked people surfacing and making their way to land. Demyx grabbed his shoulders just as Sora began to struggle and he said something which fell upon ears deaf with panic. Sora looked to him in utter horror, watching his mouth move but only able to hear the ringing silence which should have been dulled by a racing heartbeat. Demyx waved and a guard rushed to them with a blanket he quickly put around Sora, pulling him in the opposite direction as the way the others like him were being sent. Sora's feet wouldn't move though and he felt his dizzy head growing heavy and saw the ground coming closer.


Roxas looked up at Axel as he emerged from the bathroom tying a robe around his clean body. He hastily tried to stop crying, knowing how much Axel hated it but he couldn't and instead looked away to the windows. Last time they'd been in this suite together Roxas stared out the window, resenting Axel with every fiber of his being and thinking of how the city below them lingered in the depression which had been declared over. This time he stared out trying to hide his emotions from the man he found himself cumbersomely in love with. Axel didn't scowl or walk away, instead crossing to the bed and pulling Roxas back to face him, "What's wrong?"

Things had changed so much in the past few months and just when Roxas was starting to look forward to the future optimistically he received a phone call which delivered earth-shattering news, "…They don't think Sora's going to last the night." He waited for the lecture about how death was normal for Cerberus dogs but to his relief and surprise it never came. The silence that followed made it abundantly clear that Axel didn't know how to handle the situation without a lecture but Roxas just latched onto him tightly and sobbed into his shoulder. It was his fault. If he'd gotten Sora out faster to the EMTs he would've been fine. If he hadn't gotten dragged into the Cerberus society Sora wouldn't have joined either. As soon as the thought crossed his mind though Axel spoke up, "It's not your fault Roxas, you did everything you could to help him."

In his mind Roxas knew it was true but he needed someone to blame, someone to pin the guilt on and make sense of the situation. Sora had always been stronger than him it was unfair for him to be taken away so short into what was always destined to be a long fulfilling life. Sora did everything he could, before and after their parents passed on to help him stay positive and safe. Roxas' health never slowed him down because Sora had always encouraged him to keep strong, even if in doing so he slowed himself down. "Can Sora do the same? Come back? I mean you-" Roxas started to slur his words together quickly but Axel cut him short, "Bringing back the dead is a crime Riku only committed to repay his debt to me. He won't do the same for your brother...Besides, he's not dead. There's a chance he'll live." Roxas knew that he was lucky to have Axel back but that didn't make the thought of losing Sora any easier to handle. A knock on the door made him silence quickly, covering his mouth and doing his best not to let the visitor know he was there. Axel let go of him and pulled his hands off his mouth before getting to his feet and heading for the door. Roxas still tried to stay silent even though he knew their secret was out, falling back against the mattress and staring at the ceiling.

"Not to wake the dead or anything but I've recovered the rush applicants from our backup database."

That was Luxord's voice. Roxas recognized it and rolled over to face the window. From here he could see the remaining flames of the society in the distance and it made him sad to think that home was gone and they were already beginning to rebuild without any regard for their losses.

"Let me get dressed."

Axel shut the door and looked back to Roxas who had managed to stop crying. He always tried so hard to be strong it made Axel want to laugh, not this time though. Truth be told he didn't even know how to begin to make him feel better and now he had to go begin to sort through the series of applications, "You're welcome to come with. Boring paperwork is always fun this late."

Roxas forced a small laugh at the joke before saying, "I think I'm going to go to the hospital. They won't let me see him yet but...Maybe they will, I think I should go." Axel turned to go get dressed, reconsidering immediately and turning back to him, "Do you need an escort? A cab called?"

"I'm okay," Roxas told him but Axel still seemed bothered by something, heaving a sigh and saying quickly, "I can probably push the meeting back an hour if you need-"

"Axel," Roxas sat up and turned to him with a half-hearted smile, "It's okay…seriously, I understand. Go get your work done, I'll call you if I need your help." It was nice to know Axel cared but they both knew it was important that he focus on rebuilding his society. The Cerberus society ran the entire hemisphere, without a hasty rebuild everything Axel worked for would be taken away and the world itself would be forever changed. Even Roxas knew how crucial the next few hours were and he nodded reassuringly, sending Axel off to get dressed. Roxas hugged his knees to his chest and watched Axel for a moment before looking over his shoulder at the large windows behind him. It was hard to believe the sun wasn't even up and this was already turning into the longest day of his life.

"He's waking up!"

"About time."

Sora recognized those voices and he quickly sat up only to quickly be restrained as Demyx jumped onto the bed behind him, "Calm down, your body is still pretty weak and we don't want you collapsing again!"

Sora didn't listen to him, instead staring straight ahead at Riku who sat cross-legged at the foot of his bed staring back at him, "I'm dead? Are you kidding me?" Riku would tell him the truth and not sugar-coat it like Demyx would and right now that was exactly what he needed to hear. Demyx looked from Sora to his cousin, "Well in my opinion you've always been a bit zombie-like."

"Demyx," was all Riku had to say to silence his cousin's sniggers, clearing his throat before getting straight to the point, "A combination of smoke inhalation and anemia put you in an unstable state, vitals flocculating with all sots of fun problems which would lead to others. This all started about six hours ago earth-time and eighteen our time," Riku said solemnly.

"Our time?" Sora had to hear it out loud to fully process it.

"You're in hell."

Sora said nothing and Riku gestured for Demyx to let him go. Sora wasn't going to struggle, there was nothing to be gained from struggling anymore. Demyx sat down next to him and put an arm around his shoulders, "It's not that bad Sora, I mean you're lucky you weren't sent out into the Fields like everyone else! You get to stay here with us now!"

"Demyx stop," Riku sighed and stood up off the bed. Sora could tell he hadn't slept, probably hadn't eaten either but he didn't care at this point. What he said next though put everything back into perspective, "You're not dead Sora, he's picking on you. You've been unable to stabilize and we pulled you down here, leaving your body in a state of temporary comatose until we figure out what to do about it."

The fact he was still technically alive wasn't enough to distract him from the fact he was in hell surrounded by vampires who would all commit the crime of murdering one another to get to a fresh source of blood like him, "What do you mean figure out what to do about it? Send me back!"

"It's not that simple Sora, it's-" Demyx tried to calm him down but he wouldn't hear it, "You left me to die once before, bet you're pretty happy about this huh Riku?"

"Hey now, that's-"

"Demyx don't you have somewhere to be?" Riku interrupted. The sudden silence showed the influence he had over the both of them. Demyx took the hint and gathered up his jacket and shoes, items he'd shed hours ago since he knew they'd be waiting for a good while for Sora to wake up. As he left he waved to Sora with a smile but Sora didn't return it, not in the mood to smile or waste anymore time in this place than he had to. There was no doubt he was in the palace, probably off in some secluded guest room and completely disinterested in the luxuries around him, "So was this your plan all along? Drag me down here to keep around like some kind of pet?"

"When have I not done everything within my power to keep you safe?" Riku asked in a way that held no sarcasm but rather wanted a real answer.

Sora quickly replied, "How about when you let me get hauled off to that concentration camp? I know you can tell what I'm thinking and feeling, tell me Riku did you feel what they put me through?"

"By the time you were there I was already here and unable to leave or do anything to help you," Riku remained calm while Sora seemed to only get more livid, "Being helpless is far more agonizing than what you went through believe me." Sora hated the silence that followed and he looked down at the luxurious bedding he was lying in. Riku hated this place, he would not have come back here by his own free will and Sora knew he had no right to be angry with him anymore about his week in the camp, "But you still pulled me down here! If I'm not dead then I don't belong here!"

"I agree, the problem is you're dying. If we didn't have the fates pull you into a coma to calm you down you'd be dying a lot faster too. That said I think we can find a solution that helps both of us," Riku had a plan. He always had a plan and it made Sora laugh a little, "The catch?"

"Well you'll be granted diplomatic immunity which will keep you from dying, at least presently. In return you're going to have to put up with me for a while longer," Riku was pretty vague about it all but Sora didn't care what secrets or loopholes he was keeping from him so long as his life was restored.

"The recent attack on our society was both unexpected and unprovoked. The Nemean Lions, our rival powers in the southern hemisphere who recently brought war upon themselves, infiltrated our base after using undercover agents posed as scientists to determine the best time and area of attack. We were able to drive them off but unfortunately as we searched the elite hostages we'd taken we discovered they were equipped with explosives under their uniforms. This type of weaponry has been heavily criticized and is classified as an extremist's tool for terrorism. It goes without saying that their actions have received great scrutiny from all nations and the Cerberus society has been offered foreign aid and military support from several once neutral territories."

Cameras flashed and pens scribbled loudly on pads of papers reporters from around the world clutched tightly in sweaty hands. They were all hoping for news, truthful or not, that would earn them a dime and quell the ever curious public. To have Axel of all people answering their questions was a real treat, though they were not allowed to speak until his initial statement was over.

Luxord ran his thumb along the red rubber ball held in his hand he kept hidden within crossed arms. They only had sixty-seven dogs left of the original three-hundred. A society cut into almost a fifth of its original power, numbers the press would never learn of but numbers that nagged him relentlessly. The applications didn't pour in as quickly as they had in the past because of yesterday's disaster but that didn't mean they would lower their entrance standards. He and Axel had been up since three sorting through files and weeding out the weak applicants, sending Larxene out two hours later to bring in those few dozen who met basic requirements. She put them through a basic morning of intensive physical conditioning and five hours later brought the results to Axel. At eleven in the morning the first day of the rush application process was complete and thirty-two new Cerberus dogs were signed on. It had been a long morning and he was still in the process of recovering from his wounds, forced to walk with a cane by both Larxene and Axel since he technically wasn't supposed to be on his feet at all.

Roxas sat in a chair against the wall next to Luxord, sitting tall and watching the press conference silently. He could almost hear Luxord laughing at how serious and well-behaved he was being but Roxas knew this wasn't the time to be letting his mind wander since the whole world was watching them. From the fifteenth floor conference room of the Radiant Garden courthouse Axel's address was broadcast to the public. Larxene stood behind Luxord, all three looking as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened in the last 24-hours. If anything, too much had happened in the last 24-hours and Roxas doubted they would ever have to face as stressful or life-threatening situations again; then again they were Cerberus dogs and there was no telling what would happen to them next. He looked back to Axel and did his best to stay focused. This wasn't the time or place for wandering minds, especially with the news Axel was about to deliver to the world.

Axel rarely addressed the public directly, that job usually left for Luxord with his stern yet settling public tongue, but with the latest series of events leaving the world quite astir with questions and rumors he felt it was best for him to do it. Also he wanted the world to know he was still alive and unharmed, just in case their enemy in the south were foolish enough to think they might be able to overthrow them without a leader. There was no chance that would happen, especially not now. "An old ally of both the Nemean Lions and our own society recently contacted me and expressed their extreme disapproval with the direction the Lions have chosen to go. That ally, I am pleased to announce, is a King of a different sort of realm…Before the public jumps to any assumptions it is important to note that this nation is directly responsible for the establishment of both societies that govern this world and will only be acting as an emergency support faction should a threat arise the Cerberus society is incapable of dealing with. Ofcourse we all know there's only been one case where that is necessary," Axel added, referring to yesterday and there were small laughs from the still confused press. "Second division captain, King of hell, Riku Mercutio could not be here with us today but he has asked his diplomatic ambassador to speak on his behalf."

Roxas saw him out of the corner of his eye as he stood up from his seat in the audience. Sora looked like a normal messy-haired teenager, dressed fit for the occasion so up until now he'd gone under the radar of the press. There was a sudden movement as people tried to scoot away from him but Sora just made his way up to the stage. "I present to you second division lieutenant, ambassador Sora Benovlio."

Roxas saw him, alive and making his way to the front of the stage, reaching for his phone to check to see if he'd missed a call from the hospital. He'd spent all morning there, waiting for signs of improvement only to be led away by Axel an hour ago for a press conference. Sora looked fine though, healthy and alert to everything around him. There were murmurs and more clicks of cameras among the crowd but the fact they hadn't started screaming or panicking was a good sign. Axel moved aside and Sora stepped to the podium, looking over the crowd on baited breath for a moment before finally saying, "Questions?" The murmur grew to a roar as people shouted questions and waved their hands hoping to be called on.

"That could have gone better," Larxene groaned as they filed out of the court room through a side door into a vacant judge's office. She handed Luxord his cane now that they were out of public-view, still annoyed he wouldn't walk with it all the time like he was instructed to. "Doubtful, there's no easy way to tell a content and oblivious world that we are associating ourselves with a world religion has taught them to fear," he said gruffly, leaning on the cane and giving his body the break it needed.

"Luckily for us they are more apt to listen to me than the so-called 'word of God' which has very little factual support," Axel had seen what waited for them after death and was not afraid to point out the contradictions it held to Holy Scriptures. He fell into the chair behind the desk with a sigh, not paying as much mind to his posture around the few elites he owed a great debt to after last night. He still hadn't slept and there were dark marks beginning to show under his eyes. Everyone knew why he hadn't slept in the hour of leisure he had before the applications came in but none of them had any intention of saying anything about it.

"Not to speak out of turn here but does this mean Riku is going to be working here still? I mean are they actually just going to let him jump back and forth like that?" Roxas asked. He hadn't heard anything of this partnership up until a moment ago and he was just as shocked as the press outside had been.

"He'll be here from time to time for appearance and business sake, since the ambassador is mortal and therefore unable to travel back to report he will have to come check in anytime there is news," Sora explained. He looked tired, they all were, but at least he was alive. He'd spent the past several hours, nearly three days in hell, learning how to be an ambassador and working to meet the standards of people who he would be the ones to decide whether or not to grant him a second chance at life. It didn't take long to figure out why Riku didn't like the court but this was a job none of them wanted since very few of their kind actually enjoyed being on Earth. He owed Riku a great deal but knowing him it wouldn't be long before some sort of loophole twisted the situation into his favor, "...He also sends a letter of resignation."

Larxene looked appalled, "Resignation?"

"From the society," Sora said, pulling the letter from his pocket and handing it to Axel. Larxene couldn't even begin to process why anyone would resign from the position of captain in a society which ran the world. Luxord chuckled at her astonishment, "It's difficult to be a King and a captain I suppose."

Axel took the letter and looked over it. Roxas could see it over his shoulder and spotted a few colorful words which probably weren't necessary to get the point across, but it was nice to see things hadn't changed too much between the two of them. Axel tossed it aside with disinterest, honestly not surprised with his resignation, "I guess it's time to restructure things then. Check the ranks for those ready to compete for the rank of a third captain." Roxas nodded and moved to do as he was told, realizing about the same time as the others did, "But wait, we lost two."

"Ah, that's right, I was supposed to give you this earlier," Luxord said, fishing through his inside jacket pocket for an envelope. Larxene already knew what it was and Luxord tried quite unsuccessfully not to grin, "Thought I'd wait till after you made coffee."

"Don't expect me to make it for you anymore," she said, snatching the envelope away and walking away as she tore it open. Ignoring the letter itself she instead pulled out the pin shaped like a dog's head. There were three of these in existence, one for each of Cerberus's heads and she pinned it to her lapel with pride before turning to show it off to the others.

"Well earned," Luxord said, offering a short almost mocking golf-clap. Larxene socked him in the shoulder, "Better watch what you say, I'm not working under you now so I don't have to put up with your crap."

"Ouch, it was a compliment. Sir she's using her authority to pick on me, I think she should be demoted," Luxord said to Axel, pointing to Larxene as he tattled on her in a very childish manner. Axel just shook his head, ignoring their antics and looking to Sora, "As for you, since your captain is no longer here you will be transferred to Luxord's division as first-division lieutenant when not acting on your duties as an ambassador."

Sora nodded, surprised Axel was even letting him stay on since it was no secret that he didn't like him. When they were this short on dogs though he was probably looking to hold onto as many of the old trained ones as possible. What sounded like a dismissible rain at first was slowly growing in volume and Axel turned to see what was going on outside, others following suit. In the distance they could see several large, loud planes flying towards the island. Luxord put the cane behind his head, resting it on his shoulders and grabbing the other end in his free hand with a sigh, "Looks like they aren't wasting time with a follow-up attack."

"Either they weren't paying attention to our press conference or they are hoping to finish us off before we get the full military support of Hell," Axel mused, rubbing his hands together slowly as he tried to plan out the best course of action. Indeed the fine print on their agreement with Hell hadn't been completed so there was no official support or way of skipping the process. Only a handful of the hundred dogs left were air-division which meant they would be outnumbered in the sky, "Luxord contact all stations, tell them to send an emergency alert over all airwaves to the public: get underground, do not take up arms against. Also send an wire to the nearest territories, even neutral ones, for air aid. Probably para-troopers in those too but we ought to be able to handle those, shoot them out of the sky before they land hopefully. Larxene get the flight-trained dogs in the sky immediately and ready the others for ground support."

"Sir," Larxene and Luxord said in unison before getting on the tasks assigned to them. Axel stood from his desk and pulled a box out from one of the drawers, drawing out and arming himself with three different firearms before tossing one to Roxas. They were short on dogs which meant everyone would do their part, "At least this will take the media's focus off the fact we're working with Hell for a while. Speaking of which Sora do what you can to contact Riku and call me as soon as you do."

"It doesn't work that way," Sora said. He had no way of reaching Riku, he could only contact him. Axel didn't want excuses, he wanted results, so without bothering to think he checked to make sure a pistol was loaded before turning and shooting Sora from across the room. The shot grazed his shoulder and he immediately covered it to stop the bleeding, "What the hell was that for?"

"Now he knows you're in trouble, he'll be here soon," was all Axel said before putting the pistol away and grabbing one more gun out of the box and turning to Roxas, "Ready?"

Roxas had watched it all with mild amusement and horror. This was the way their society work, seamlessly and speedily underneath Axel. He looked to make sure his brother was okay, knowing Sora was lucky Axel had only fired to wound and not kill him. While he certainly wasn't a kind leader nobody could say Axel didn't do everything to maintain the well-being and stability both in the society and all else in his jurisdiction. Roxas just hoped that one of these days they could sleep easy again, for today though there was only one thing to do. He checked the gun for ammunition, the thought of killing again making his heart beat quickly but his nerves didn't shake his firing hand, "Yeah, lets go."

I felt leaving it open ended was the only decision for the conclusion of this story and hope everyone understands why. It's not a 'happily ever after' situation and I wouldn't write it any other way. My puppy is eating my toes now and I think that means I shouldn't spend too much time here with closing thoughts. Thank you all for reading, I'm officially changing this story to 'complete' and hope you enjoyed it.

~The Mad-TopHat-Ter