Here's part two of my two part finale special. Enjoy.
With the dread teams forced into a retreat the enemy had clear shots at them taking their opportunity to unleash a full scale assault. Many of the dreads were in the clear the harvest was more focused on Meia, Dita and Jura than the others.
"Keep retreating. We'll rendezvous with the Nirvana on the planet's surface" Meia ordered after evading an enemy.
"Meia watch out on your right" Barnette cried.
Jerking her controls to the left Meia avoided the enemy, but was quickly intercepted by the copy of her Vandread.
The fake Vandread swiftly pierced by cutting off a wing form Meia's dread sending her into a high speed spin.
Thankfully Gascogne was able to grab Meia's dread with the delivery ship and return her to safety.
Retreating into the unknown planet the dreads were safe while the copy of Vandread Meia was destroyed under the immense pressure from the planet's gravity forcing the rest of the harvest fleet to end their pursuit.
Every crew member were trapped within dark thoughts. They're only choices were to turn around and fight or stay within the planet and die under the pressure, and the peksis wasn't making their choice any easier. Slowly the peksis was deteriorating at an increasing rate. The peksis would be able to preserve itself, but the Nirvana would be destroyed under the planet's gravity once its shields gave out.
In the infirmary Barnette was refusing Duelo's help regardless of his words.
As Duelo continued trying to convince Barnette to let him treat her wound Dita rushed in begging for any kind of medicine to make everyone cheerful again.
"I understand your concern Dita, but there isn't a medicine that can do that" Duelo explained calmly.
"Then what are we going to do?" Dita cried "Everyone is saying that it's hopeless and we have no chance of winning".
"That's right" Paiway said cutting in "Its over we're all going to die".
As Dita and Paiway continued arguing the medical equipment connected to Chase finally flatlined grabbing their attention.
Duelo quickly rushed over to Chase's bed side and began double checking the equipment before retrieving his pulse meter from his coat and running it over Chase's body. After a few moments Duelo closed his eyes and slowly stepped away from the bed before turning off the medical equipment.
"Doctor?" Dita asked in a horrified tone.
Duelo didn't look at her he avoided eye contact with them as he shook his head "I'm sorry Dita".
Dita's face darkened and so did Barnette's. Slowly backing out of the infirmary Dita turned around and broke into a full on sprint running back to her room crying over what just happened.
In the modified hangar Hibiki was using Pyoro to plan an escape route, but Pyoro continued to shoot down each idea Hibiki came up with.
BC walked over to him and tried giving him some advice to use boosters to help them escape the gas planet once its ignited, but that plan to would fall short.
Seeing the fierce determination in Hibiki's eyes BC gained an entire new view of the young pilot, he had truly changed greatly since they first came across him.
Just before BC walked away the speakers across the ship came to life and Dita could be heard crying from the other side, but as she spoke she sounded upbeat.
"I know things seem hard right now. It may even seem impossible, but we can't give up we just can't. I don't like seeing everyone so down, we have to believe in ourselves…That's what Chase would want us to do. He died saving one of us and ever since he's been here he's always told us to believe in ourselves to keep holding on to hope if nothing else. We can't let his memory end like this we have to fight and we will win we just have to".
Dita began crying again as she fell to her knees before turning off the communication terminal in her room. Across the ship everyone seemed to change the news of Chase's death affected them darkly, but it motivated them as they remember all the things he said to them all. Hope is all they need as long as they believed in themselves and each other there was nothing the harvest could do to stop them.
In the registry section Barnette was trying to put in a restricted order becoming more and more frustrated that the order was locked and unable to be put through.
"You might as well give it up" Gascogne said as she leaned against the doorway of the darkened Registry "According to the rules you need permission from the manager to put that kind of order through. That way hasty people like yourself don't do something stupid".
"Then hurry up and put it through" Barnette demanded.
"Why are you in such a rush?" Gascogne asked "No one on this ship is blaming you for what happened. The only one blaming you is yourself".
Barnette lowered her head, Gasco was right Barnette was blaming herself for everything their loss, their current situation and Chase's death.
"There's no point in acting so tough" Gasco told her "Everyone here pretty much knows all the good things about you as well as all the bad. And in spite of all that they still consider you a friend. Right girls!"
Once Gasco finished speaking the lights in Reg central came to life and all of the order maids cheered in unison "Smile, smile".
Barnette was surprised to see everyone in Reg central so happy, but she couldn't bring herself to smile there was still a loss that couldn't be overcome for her.
"Why do down? They told you to smile" Gascogne said to the dread pilot.
Barnette tilted her head down ever further as she tightly gripped the locket and small sapphire Chase gave her, but before she could say anything a voice from the doorway said "I know of a good way to cheer her up".
Surprised Barnette looked past Gascogne to see Chase standing in the doorway, his abdomen was bandaged and there were a few cuts along his arm and forehead, but he was standing there as if nothing had happened.
"A bit of payback is a good way to start. Wouldn't you agree?" the cowboy asked her.
Barnette smiled and nodded as she ran over to him "Let's do it, let's remind them what happens when you mess with us".
News of Chase's miraculous return quickly spread throughout the ship everyone was now in full spirits as they returned to work doing their jobs above and beyond their best.
After BC relayed Hibiki's plan to the captain the old pirate smiled as she told Parfet to coordinate efforts with Hibiki to figure out the best course of action.
Back in the Vanguard's hangar Hibiki was becoming angry with Pyoro who shot down another idea until Meia interjected "How about using my dread?"
"That should solve your little speed problem. I take it you've given some thought to the next step"
Hibiki grinned arrogantly "Of course I have".
The hangar door slid open revealing Jura standing in front of the bright hall lights "So this is where you've been hiding" the blonde pilot said "You're gravely mistaken if you think you've thought of leaving me out of this. You should know by now I have a nose for things that are interesting".
"Let's not forget" Chase said as he stepped into the hangar and looked over to Nighthawk "We've got some payback to dish out so you're not going anywhere without us".
Just as they began going over the plan Dita rushed into the hangar and was shocked to see them all standing together even more surprised to see Chase with them.
"Well just don't stand there" Hibiki said without turning around to face her "You're part of the master plan so get ready".
Smiling Dita said "You got it". Looking over to Chase she smiled as tears began forming in her eyes "Its good to have you back Mr. Cowboy".
Chase tipped his hat down to her "Thank ya kindly Dita. I overheard some of that speech you gave everyone earlier. Quite impressive".
Smiling again Dita thanked Chase before looking to Hibiki who had turned around "One more thing. No slacking off".
Setting the plan in motion the six pilots took off using energy shields to protect their ships from the planet's gravity.
"I'll spearhead the assault" Chase said as he piloted Nighthawk along side the Vanguard "You guys just play your parts and don't get me killed this time around you got that Hibiki" the cowboy smiled.
Returning the grin Hibiki replied "Just don't do anything stupid and I won't have to save you".
"Mr. Alien" Dita cut in.
"What is it now I told you the plan already" Hibiki cried.
"No it's not that" Dita began before blushing "I…I want you to promise me you'll visit my room when this is all over".
"Can't that wait?" Hibiki yelled.
"No!" Dita cried "I want you to promise me right now that you'll visit my room when this is all over".
"Ok sure whatever" Hibiki agreed finally.
"Really?" Dita said happily "Ok please don't forget because I'll be waiting".
Flying head on towards the enemy Chase said "This isn't just for us. We're fighting to end the harvest to stop them from wiping us out" he said before combining with Dita forming the Celtus.
The dark blue humanoid mecha throw its armored cloak over its shoulder before placing its hand in front of its face closing all, but its first two fingers.
"Ready Dita?" Chase asked as the wires from the ship wrapped their way around Chase's legs and arms.
"Ready. Let's go" Dita cheered as Chase began controlling the ship.
Holding his hand in front of his face Chase threw it forward before doing the same with his other hand targeting the other side of the enemy formation.
Mimicking Chase's movements the dark blue mecha's eyes glowed in an ominous aura as its hand flew forward sending a wave of dark energy out towards the enemy detonating on impact knocking out an entire line of cube types and drone.
The second wave had the same effect the second it hit the enemy the entire line was obliterated the entire line of eye and sphere types before the mecha separated and Chase quickly combined with Meia while Vandread Jura was formed.
Combining with Meia to form the Musketeer Meia quickly grabbed hold of the controls while Chase steered the ship "Let 'em have it Meia" he cheered as Meia used the left arm of the forest green mecha to unleash a full automatic barrage of lasers upon the enemy before separating as well.
"All right you guys get to work I'll entertain the enemy for until you're done" Chase said flying away from them and toward the enemy immediately being intercepted by the copies of Vandread Dita and Nighthawk.
"You mock me by taking on the appearance of my friend" Chase said as he defended himself against the two enemies "But you've made a grave mistake, you failed to finish me off".
Forcing the fake Vandread off of him he led the copy of Nighthawk away from the battle just as Vandread Jura covered the gas planet in its shield.
"Twice now I've watched you destroy my people. You destroyed the fleet from Melanos just like you did to my home. You may have razed Melanos, but as long as I still live I will see you all destroyed. Twice now I've watched you destroy my people and I swear to you I will not allow you to destroy the closest thing I have to a family" Chase roared as Nighthawk's chest panel opened revealing a large energy core that began building in mass.
Nighthawk's hands moved in front of the exposed energy core and began harnessing the dark energy, shaping it into a ball "Now die!" Chase cried as the ball of dark energy flew toward the harvest copy of Nighthawk forcing the machine to crumble from the impact before the explosion vaporized any trace of its existence.
"Who's next?" Chase roared as he closed the core cover and drew Nighthawk's short beam saber.
While the dreads continued with the plan to ignite the core of the gas planet Vandread Jura continued to take increasing damage while Chase defended against the seemingly endless enemies. "Come on I'll swat you all down" he yelled after shooting down another cube type.
On the Nirvana the bridge crew watched on in tense anticipation as the dreads continued their work.
"We're almost there" Meia said monitoring their progress "Parfet you're up".
In the engineering section of the Nirvana Parfet counted down from three before her and the rest of the engineers reversed the energy flow from the peksis dispersing the Nirvana's shield in the process.
"The peksis pragma has returned to normal values!" Belvedere announced.
"Increasing damage to Vandread Jura, the enemy is lining up in an orbital formation" Aramone said "Nighthawk's damage levels are at 60%".
"Sometime today would be appreciated" Chase yelled after taking down several enemies and repelling an attack directed at Vandread Jura.
"There that's it!" Meia yelled as the planet's core began shrinking.
In unison both the captain and Chase yelled "Let's get the hell out of here".
"Bart turn the ship around now!" Captain Magno yelled.
The gas planet began imploding just as the dreads and the Nirvana cleared it, Vandread Jura separated being replaced by Vandread Meia grabbing hold of Dita's dread and speeding through the enemy formation along with Nighthawk who had grabbed hold of Jura's and Barnette's dread.
"Bart the overdrive system isn't going to last much longer get along side me so we can land" Chase ordered as he got closer to the Nirvana.
"The hangar's open just get in here" Bart screamed frantically as the Nirvana entered an asteroid field.
Flying inside the hangar bay Nighthawk's overdrive system was shut down as the mecha curled into a sitting position.
Climbing out of his mecha and down to meet Jura and Barnette the three pilots watched as Vandread Dita was formed and transformed its shoulder canons into a harpoon which conducted the energy of the exploding gas planet.
Just as the harvest mothership fired its own weapon Vandread Dita hurled its harpoon straight at the on coming beam dragging the conducted energy of the gas planet along with it. When the harpoon met the harvest ship's cannon blast it pierced through with the force of a super nova continuing to fly through the massive laser before ripping through the harvest ship.
The resulting explosive consumed the remainder of the enemy fleet leaving the crew of the Nirvana victorious.
"Yes we did it!" Barnette cheered as she grabbed hold of Chase's arm.
Realizing what she was doing Barnette blushed as she quickly let go of him.
Turning the two dread pilots around Chase stood between them and placed an arm over each of their shoulders "Ladies this has been a long day. How about I cook us dinner to celebrate our victory?"
"Oh please" Barnette said pushing away from the cowboy "I'm not so attached to you that I'd allow you to do the cooking around here".
"Well if you're cooking Barnette I'm going to go wash up first after all a woman should always look her best" Jura said leaving the two of them alone.
After Jura left Barnette looked at Chase and smiled shyly "Chase I…I'm really glad you're ok. I was really scared back there".
Chase returned the smile as he reached out and pulled Barnette to him hugging her "I'm staying right here. I may have lost my home world, but I still you and the rest of the crew to call my family" he whispered "I love you Barnette".
Later Pyoro discovered a change in the harvest fleet's data and frantically brought it to the crew's attention "The enemy has already discovered the destruction of one of their mother ships and have diverted the rest of their fleets from other solar systems to Mejere and Tarak".
"There's five of them!" Jura cried seeing the screen "We were barely able to get rid of one how are we going to defeat five of them?"
As the crew began worrying Hibiki got to his feet and said "What's wrong with all of you? Are you just going to shrivel up in fear? We already know what we have to do. No matter how big the obstacle or how tall the wall we have to climb over it to show proof of our existence. And to do that we have to take the path we have to take". Looking over his shoulder to Dita he continued "Isn't that right?"
The Nirvana continued its journey back to Mejerian space and long after the battle was over and most of the crew had turned in for the night, Chase was alone in the darkened Cafeteria looking through various pictures of his former life on Melanos.
Hearing the cafeteria door open the cowboy quickly snapped his head over to see Barnette standing in the doorway. "What are you doing here?" she asked him from across the cafeteria.
Smiling the cowboy asked her the same question as she walked over to him and sat down next to him.
"Chase" Barnette said quietly as she looked down at the pictures on the table "About what you said earlier".
While Barnette gathered her thoughts Chase tensed up as he slowly organized the pictures before returning them to their container waiting for Barnette to continue.
"I really care for you and even though I'm not sure how strong my feelings for you are I just wanted you to know that I really enjoy being around you" she said as Chase closed the top to the picture case.
Turning his head to look into Barnette's dark green eyes Chase gave her a smile "Well I'm glad to hear that" he said to her "If we still feel the same way about each other when all of this is over how about we have a proper date?"
Barnette scoffed as she tilted her head away from him "We'll see. There's still a long journey ahead of us right?"
"Well" Chase said as he got to his feet and held out his hand "As long as I'm with you I'm willing to make it".
Taking his hand Barnette got up and the two pilots left the dark cafeteria walking next together, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand.
And with that Gunslinger comes to a close. I'll most likely take a few weeks off before I begin on Stage two I want to thank everyone who read and reviewed and even more I want to thank Vader23A and The Emerald's Edge for giving me the help I needed to continue through it all.