The final chapter is here! w00t!
unknown20troper: I'm glad you liked it! I admit I used the Ultimate Enemy as inspiration for that one.
OddAuthor: We can't have everything, can we? Thanks for reading!
Jolius Darkmaster: Oh no! I killed your brain, aaaah! Thanks for reviewing!
Chapter Seventeen: A New Dark Age
It was so quiet in Jimmy Neutron's lab that you could have heard a pin drop.
Jimmy and Colonel Atkinson were on the computers, trying to access what had happened. They had seen the news footage of Fulton, and that of Francis, who had taken a video camera. Both had not presented good tidings.
At last, Jimmy and Atkinson turned away from the computers. Both seemed to be in shock.
"We've accessed the situation," explained Atkinson, "We have concluded that there has been a massive explosive device detonated, and that Dimmsdale has been annihilated."
"That means…oh my god, Francis, Waxelplax – heck! – the President, they're all dead!" exclaimed Chester.
"It gets worse," said Jimmy, grimly, "It was Project Oppenheimer. The epicentre of the blast was Ark."
There was a long silence.
"Oh my god," breathed Rourke, at last.
"Morrissey," gasped Bishop.
Gavin took his hat off and held it to his chest.
"He's not the only one," added Timmy, looking horrified, "Vicky, AJ, Sam and…"
"Surely Danny could have phased them through it with his ghost powers, right?" asked Dani, looking hopeful.
"His ectoplasmic signature vanished when the Ark exploded," sighed Jimmy, "I'm, sorry. They're all gone."
"…and so is most of the Pacific Coastlines," added Atkinson, gloomily.
There was another long silence.
Finally, Dani let out a sniffle.
"H-he can't be gone!" she exclaimed, "He's m-my cousin! He's already h-half-ghost, he's g-gotta be in the G-G-Ghost Zone!"
"That isn't the case."
All eyes turned. Vlad Masters stood in the lab, arms crossed.
"What're you doing here?" demanded Tucker.
He was ignored by Vlad.
"There are many factors that cause the creation of a ghost," explained Vlad, "They can be passions, obsessions, belief that their life's work isn't finished or even intervention by a higher power…"
Tootie looked away.
"…but for the majority of humans, their lives are complete when they die. They go…onwards, over the edge of the Ghost Zone," continued Vlad, "If that happens, nobody can bring them back in any form. That is what has happened to Sergeant Morrissey, to Mr. Ibrehim, to Victoria and Samantha…and to Daniel."
He bowed his head.
"He is gone."
Dani let out a sob, and fell to the ground, bawling. Bishop and Gavin lowered their heads in respect of their comrade, whilst Tucker and Jazz simply looked lost and in shock.
Incensed, Rourke marched up to Vlad and grabbed him by the collar.
"You have some nerve, coming in here and telling us that!" he snapped.
Timmy was soon backing the Marine up, looking equally infuriated.
"What the heck did you need to say that for, huh?" he demanded, "How did you even get in here…"
"Listen!" shouted Vlad, "You are going to need by help to find the Balance, so I'd suggest you unhand me right now!"
"Yeah, of course you are!" shot Molly, "And I'm…"
"Actually, he is correct," Atkinson interrupted, "He knows who the Balance is, and he's going to lead us to them."
There was a short pause, before Rourke threw Vlad to the ground.
"So, you're going to help us?" he grinned, "Fantastic."
Washington DC was quiet.
There was some activity, here and there, mind you. Contractors were already on scene at the White House, fixing the damaged structure. Thankfully, most of the damage was internal, and the external appearance was easily maintained.
Outside, soldiers had taken over police duties at checkpoints across the city. Martial Law had been instated in most major cities within six hours of the attack, and most people weren't interested in going outside anyway – they were glued to their televisions and computers, watching the unfolding global situation in shock.
The world's leaders had sent their reacts to their subjects.
The Acting Prime Minister of Japan had appeared in Kyoto, revealing the deaths of the Japanese Emperor and former Prime Minister. He had stated that for the future of the country, co-operation with the United States Government was essential.
At the same time, the Acting-Prime Minister of Australia reported from Canberra, giving a similar response to Japan's.
In London, the House of Commons had made a statement, ordering full mobilization of the British Army, and calling for an explanation of what went wrong with Project Oppenheimer. Similar calls, although much harsher, emerged from Moscow and Beijing.
At last, the US Government spoke from the U.S. Capitol to the news networks.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs had given an update on confirmed destroyed cities before handing over to Freakshow.
"My fellow Americans," began Freakshow, "I am speaking to you at a time of great loss, of destruction of a truly magnificent magnitude, that has struck our planet, our very way of life. I am about to tell you the truth behind this horrible incident."
Whispering broke out for a few seconds in the assembled journalists, before Freakshow raised a hand to silence them.
"The fairies have struck again," concluded Freakshow, "They sabotaged Project Oppenheimer in a despicable attempt to assassinate our President. They have struck once again, and this time action – international action – must be taken!"
"At this very moment, at Cape Canaveral, a giant military satellite is being launched into space. It is called Cyclops, and it will allow us to observe any and all actions made by subversive elements, and destroy them immediately. It is the most advanced space-borne construct ever devised…"
"So I say to you, Timmy Turner – What can you do now? I'm President, my friend…things are going to change around here."
Timmy sat on the curb outside Jimmy's house, and sighed heavily. The plans Sabre Team had brought back about Cyclops had been worse then they had anticipated.
Cyclops was heavily protected by SAM missiles (as if anything could get up there in the first place!), three ICBMs, a magi-protection shield (thank you for nothing, Jorgen) and contained the multiverse drive the government had created. If they found Retroville, it was merely a matter of blasting them into oblivion.
Jimmy had assured everyone that Retroville was just one of billions and billions of universes, and there was a less then one percent chance of Retroville being found first. Eventually, however, the government would have to get lucky.
He looked at the stars above him. For some undisclosed reason, Retroville did not have a high light-pollution level, making it easy to see the cosmos above. It was vast, and expansive. No wonder Danny been fascinated by them.
And now he was gone.
Timmy looked behind him. Cosmo, Wanda and Poof had left the lab, coming to give him some company. Poof was the one who had spoken.
The four stood in silence for a bit.
"Have…have we lost, Timmy?" asked Cosmo, timidly.
Timmy looked at the moon above. He remembered what Clockwork had said.
"Everything is as it should be…" he said to himself.
"What does that mean?" enquired Cosmo, confused.
"It's not over yet, guys," replied Timmy.
He pulled Cosmo, Wanda and Poof into a hug, which seemed to last an age but was really just a few seconds. Then a quiet, somewhat croaky voice was heard.
"Can I join?" asked Dani, walking up. Her eyes were still red.
"There's room," nodded Timmy.
Nodding, Dani joined in the hug.
None of them knew what tomorrow would bring – but they did know they would face it together.
From the upstairs window, in Jimmy's room, Jazz and Norm watched over the moment.
"Well, they're reacting pretty well to being doomed," Norm deadpanned.
"This is not the end," nodded Jazz, "It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
"Winston Churchill," elaborated Jazz.
"Meh, I prefer that age-old proverb," mused Norm.
"Which one?" asked Jazz.
"You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't."
Jazz rolled her eyes.
"You're taking this pretty well," considered Norm, "Given he was your brother and all."
"You do realise what I was doing for three hours in the bathroom?" she asked.
"Yep," nodded Norm.
"Aren't you gonna say something about it then?"
"I don't do the dead baby stuff," he affirmed, "Not much, anyway."
There was a short silence.
"So, you do you think the Balance is?" asked Jazz.
"Meh, somebody," shrugged Norm, "I just hope he's not too grating…"
It was a place far removed from Retroville, but somewhere that managed to be just that little bit similar as well.
The Balance, as it were, was a normal resident of this odd place, going about his morning routine. He was oblivious to the actions of other worlds, of the grand struggle between Light and Dark that he was about to be involved in.
The Balance was just leaving his house, heading for his place of employment, when he discovered an envelope addressed to him on his doormat. Curious, he opened it, and read the message inside.
You are about to play a part in a struggle far beyond your own world. In the coming months, you may receive offers from a man named 'Freakshow' – for the sake of the entire multiverse, you must reject him every time he asks for your assistance or employment.
I sincerely hope that you can do this – eventually, you shall meet a child named Timmy Turner. He will need your help – when he comes, you must assist him.
The Balance stared at the message for a short while, before turning to his pet snail.
"Uh, Gary, do we know a Clockwork?"
TO BE CONTINUED.
Well, if I didn't alienate anyone with Jimmy, I certainly have now. :\
And that's the end of Middle Grounds. I would like to give my thanks to my brother, who invented Sabre Team, and my reviewers.
Special thanks go to unknown20troper and OddAuthor, who have been great morale support in writing this story. I would also like to thank everyone who has read this story so far - you're all awesome too, I'm sure. :D
Well, that's it for now. I'll be working on other things for a few days, but I shall see you in the next installment, The Beginning. Have a good day!