Author's Note: This idea was kind of stuck in my head. It's kind of sort of a song-fic one-shot thingamabob. The songs it was inspired by were "We Weren't Born to Follow" by Bon Jovi and "Kings and Queens" by 30 Seconds to Mars. Not all the lyrics were used, just the ones that I thought really fit.

This is one of my few Dark Ace and Master Cyclonis stories that is not fluffy, cheesy, happy, or romantic. However, they still do love each other. Actually, I think it's going to be Dark Ace/Cyclonis/Aerrow, but it's not even a love triangle. There's no kissing or anything, mostly angst. I'll let you ponder that one for a few minutes while I finish writing the disclaimer…

This story is dedicated to Djap, who helped me think of the idea, and helped me brainstorm. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy it!

Disclaimer: I don't own the Storm Hawks, and I don't own either song.

Into the night

Desperate and broken

The sound of a fight

Father has spoken

She came to him crying that night. "Ace, I don't want you to go," she sobbed. "Acey, you promised you would never leave me. You said you loved me! How could you do this to me?"

She was only four years old, but she was smart. She understood the power struggles within the Cyclonian palace. She understood her own precarious position. However, she was just a child, and she needed a constant to cling onto. Thirteen-year-old Dark Ace fit the profile perfectly.

The two children, both prodigies and geniuses in their various fields, were inseparable. Yet now, all that was changing.

Master Cyclonis had another fight with her consort. It was quite normal for the Master not to marry but still produce an heir, but this relationship had been a bit unnatural. Her consort was also her Talon Commander. He had more power, and therefore he had more pride. There had been more fights.

He had wanted to send their prodigy, their Ace, to the Sky Knight Academy to infiltrate and take down the Storm Hawks. She had instantly disagreed.

At one time, her orders would have been obeyed without question. Now, however, Ace was packing his bags.

"Promise you'll come back to me," Lark begged, tears still spilling out of her large violet eyes.

Ace remembered her young darling face. It was what lead him to keep training when he was tired and all the students and teachers were picking on him in Atmosia. It was what kept him strong, made him break all the combat and flying records, lead him to be picked by the Storm Hawks.

It was what gave him the strength to murder his new-found friends so he could return home.

Into your eyes

Hopeless and taken

We stole our new lives

Through blood and pain

In defense of our dreams

He didn't recognize her when he got back. She was just eight years old, it had only been four years, but she had changed so much.

She didn't smile anymore. That was the first thing he noticed. Had the poor child forgotten to have fun?

She was suspicious of everything. She didn't trust anyone, not even him. He took her on a skimmer ride.

"Look me in the eyes, Lark," he said.

"Cyclonis. Soon enough it will be Master Cyclonis," she replied coolly. "You will treat me with respect, Dark Ace."

"Look me in the eyes, Lark," he repeated more forcefully. "You aren't the little girl I knew and loved anymore."

"No," she snarled. "You left me. You left me all alone, so I changed. I had to. You weren't there to protect me, so I had to learn to protect myself." She said it with as much ferocity as she could muster, but there were tears gathering in her eyes.

"Oh, Lark, what happened?"

"She killed him," Lark sobbed. "Mom…had him put to death…thrown into the Wastelands. She made us all watch. Said she had been crossed one to many times." Dark Ace tried to comfort the girl, but he felt a shiver of foreboding run down his spine. He would be the new Talon Commander. It was expected. And Lark would be the new Master Cyclonis as soon as her mother died.

There was the saying that history repeats itself. He wasn't going to let that happen.

"Do you trust me?"

She nodded readily.

"Then jump."

Lark shot Ace a look. It wasn't like they hadn't done this before; actually, they used to play this game all the time. The question wasn't if she trusted him, it was if she trusted herself. Was she truly willing to be her own person, to be the carefree child that she wanted to be, and not the heiress they wanted to mold her into?

Lark took a deep breath, then jumped.

As always, he caught her.

This road was paved by the winds of change

Walking beside the guilty and the innocent

How will you raise your hand when the call your name?

Dark Ace felt the same shiver of foreboding as he was summoned to Lark's private chambers. As he suspected, the girl was pale and trembling. Their worst fear had come true.

"She's dead." The girl was pale and shaking, staring at the cold, motionless body of her mother. "She's dead, Ace."

The Dark Ace had seen death before. He had killed before. It wasn't that strange to him, but it was still a shock to see the woman he had served for twenty years, since the day of his birth, was dead.

"Mom is dead, what are we going to do?" The poor girl was in shock, completely hysterical.

Ace got down on one knee. "You are going to lead us, Your Highness, Master Cyclonis."

Lark—no, Master Cyclonis now—stopped crying. "What did you say? Get up, Ace," she laughed. It was not a kind laugh, or a funny laugh, but a paranoid release of tension at the absurdity of his statement. No one had ever heard of an eleven-year-old Master Cyclonis. "I'm not Master Cyclonis. I'll never be Master Cyclonis. I've never been the commander. I can make plans, but all I really want to do is work with my crystals. I can't be Master. I can't lead."

Ace said nothing.

She seemed to realize that her words were having no affect on him, and she spoke again, her voice higher, her words faster. Notes of hysteria began to creep in again. "You can't make me, Ace! I won't do it! You have the same claim to the throne as I do! You're older! You're respected! You rule Cyclonia! I can't…do….it!" She broke down sobbing towards the end.

Ace instantly rushed towards her, cradling her, wiping her tears gently away. "Oh, Lark, I knew this day was coming. I just wished it wouldn't come to soon. Only you can lead us. They will respect you. With your crystal aptitude, we can create a legend like no other of your 'mystic powers.' I can guarantee the Talons' support. You were born to lead Cyclonia, Lark. Come claim your birthright. Come fulfill your destiny."

We weren't born to follow

Come on and get up off your knees

When life is a bitter pill to swallow

You have to hold on to what you believe

"You were born to lead Cyclonia, Lark. Come claim your birthright. Come fulfill your destiny."

"Why can't it be you?" she begged.

"That's not the way it works," he sighed. "You're the heir, no one else. It's your birthright. No one can take that away from you, but you can't give it away either. You, and only you, can rule Cyclonia. Now, will you be brave enough to do your duty?"

She looked him nervously in the eye. "Yes," she replied shakily.

This ones about anyone who does it differently

This ones about the one who doesn't sit and spits

This ain't about our living in a fantasy

This ain't about giving up or giving in

Months past. True to her word, Lark became Master Cyclonis. On the outside, she lead the empire. She created all the plans, she was responsible for the capture of all the Terras. Behind closed doors, it was obvious she wasn't the real power behind the throne.

Before any mission, declaration, or edict, she consulted with her 'most trusted Commander' Dark Ace. There were many nights when she summoned him to her chambers, and he did not leave until morning. Nights like tonight.

"I'm tired, Ace," she complained, tears in her wide violet eyes. "Everything I do, it just ends up failing. You're the only reason they haven't brought me down already. You keep saving my life, and all I'm doing is risking you. I told you I couldn't do this, and now you see how true it is. I'm just a failure!"

"This isn't about the Storm Engine again?" Ace replied incredulously.

"That fiasco? I have a thousand reasons to be angry about that fiasco, but not right now…" She looked up, searching for sympathy and love in his crimson eyes. As always, she found them. "It's Piper," she admitted. "All the things she was saying, that I'm just a lonely girl who tried to cover it up by taking over the world. I want to be a regular person again, Ace. I want to be Lark, not Master Cyclonis!"

"You'll always be Lark to me," he offered.

He knew what she wanted to hear: 'Just go, be friends with Piper, leave this entire empire and throne and responsibilities behind.' It was the one thing he couldn't say to her. Instead, he promised, "Soon, this war will be over. Soon, we will win. Despite what the Storm Hawks are doing, more and more Terras are falling under our control. I promise, it's only a matter of time." Soothing her, he cradled her, rocking her gently, until finally, she fell asleep. That would be how she would wake up the next morning: safe, in his arms.

You gotta hold on to what you believe

Believe that the sun will shine tomorrow

And that's a saints and sinners pleas

She came to him crying one night.

She used to do this all the time, but as she grew older, she got used to her throne. She consulted with him less about every little detail. She learned to make decisions on her own. She became stronger. She needed him less.

Even though he knew it was selfish, it hurt him. However, it was a good thing. He wouldn't be around forever, and she wouldn't be a child forever. She couldn't depend on him for everything. Like a baby bird, a baby lark, she'd have to stretch her wings and fly on her own.

She was sixteen now, but she was far more mature than her physical age. She was an adult, and no one could question her now.

There were no words and she dove into his arms. Tears were pouring down her face.

He soothed her, not questioning. When she was ready, she would tell him.

"He…" she hiccupped, still hysterical. "He died, Ace. We were fighting the Sky Knights, and one of them shot a bolt of energy at me, and it was about to hit me, then this Talon pushed me out of the way and took the blow for me. It killed him. He died for me, and I don't even know his name!"

"Lark, dear Lark," he whispered. "I'm so sorry this happened now. But you have to realize, you're more important than any of us. You're Master Cyclonis. The empire needs you. We're disposable." He took a deep breath. "Even me."

As he expected, she reacted violently, jolting up and gripping his shoulders so tightly he could feel her well-manicured nails digging into his skin through his armor. "Never say that, Ace. Swear to me you will never do that."

For the first time in either of their memories, he disobeyed her. "No, Master Cyclonis. Master Cyclonis. Never forget that. You are Master first to me, and beloved Lark second."

She realized that their faces were dangerously close, their foreheads nearly touching. "Ace, promise that you're never going to leave me," she begged.

"That would be a lie," he replied. "And I know you, Lark. You might not think it now, but it will be more important to you later that I would never lie to you." Her face dropped. "I do promise you, Lark, that no matter what, the sun will rise. Every night will end. You'll find comfort in the epitome of despair. You'll never be alone."

We were the kings and queens of promise

We were the victims of ourselves

Maybe the children of a lesser God

Between Heaven and Hell

'You'll find comfort in the epitome of despair. You'll never be alone.'

He had promised, but it was a lie. She was alone here and now. She was alone, and she didn't want any consolation, because it wouldn't make it any better.

The war was over. Cyclonia had won. Atmosia had surrendered.

He had died.

He had died in battle, sword blazing in his hand, fighting for what he believed in.

He had died, leaving her here alone to mourn of his grave.


She whirled, to see a familiar red-haired teen staring at her. After the war was over, she had surprised the Storm Hawks by being merciful, and offering them positions as diplomats and peacemakers. They, in turn, had surprised her by accepting.

Piper, who loved crystals so much, worked with the Nightcrawlers. Lark had never fully understood their natural aptitude for crystals, but with Piper there, the two races could reach a higher level of understanding. Finn turned out to be good at convincing people of things, so he lead a squadron of ambassadors around the Atmos. He was so good at what he did that no one complained this 'squadron of ambassadors' was made all of extremely pretty girls. Junko worked with the Wallops, leading a rebuilding movement to heal the damages of war. Stork delivered vaccines for deadly diseases all around the Atmos.

Aerrow had stayed with her, as a personal bodyguard. Not that she really cared. She just felt, more and more, lately, that if she showed any sort of feeling towards him, she would be betraying Dark Ace.

"Look, I'm sorry if this is a personal question, Master, but I've heard rumors from the Talons, and I was wondering…"

"About me and him?" she finished for the young Sky Knight. "I'm not surprised. The Imperial Family is full of well-hidden secrets, and it's easy to speculate when you don't know." She took a deep breath, then met his eyes.

"He was my older brother."

The age of man is over

A darkness comes and all

These lessons that we learned here

Have only just begun

Aerrow felt his mouth fall open in surprise. He had expected an admittance that they were lovers, or denial perhaps. What he did not expect was the truth, but suddenly, everything made a lot more sense.

Yes, Ace had loved Lark, but not in that way. He had been her older brother. He had been her protector. Just as the consort of the Master wasn't always public knowledge, her various sons were not always kept for her to raise. Usually, they were just thrown into Talon training. The Cyclonian empire was a matriarchy, leaving all the planning and leading to the women, who, according to tradition, were more wily and suited for the throne.

Suddenly, he realized his Master was crying. Moving forward, uncertain, he wrapped his arms around her. Little did he know, it was exactly what Ace used to do to her when she cried.

'You'll find comfort in the epitome of despair. You'll never be alone.'

She had never expected to find comfort in her long-time arch enemy, Aerrow, the leader of the Storm Hawks. Then again, she had never expected to lead Cyclonia in the first place, or lose Ace. She had never expected that her conquests would be a success, of that Atmos would finally be at peace.

She had learned her lesson: life never gives you what you expect. You only had to face it all with a brave face and a strong heart.

We are the Kings

We are the Queens

Boy, that was kind of depressing. Now I feel all sad…

Review make me happy…