Here's the finale, or epilogue. I shortened the last part of the story to get things done sooner, but this part is pretty much exactly what I envisioned. The second part in particular is something I thought of quite a while ago, as an alternate ending for my novel "Walking Dead" where most of the finback group were introduced and then got killed off without saying any lines. As I developed them into nominal "good guys" with their own adventures, I couldn't avoid thinking of ways to giving at least some of them a "happy ending".

Krista stepped off the platform, into another post-apocalyptic Oklahoma cityscape. "Do you think it worked?" Abbs said.

"Yeah," she said. "I'm sorry we couldn't go someplace better, but it had to be here."

"I know," Abbs said. "Austin knew it first. The only world with a place for us... would be one where you and he never met. Where- where he didn't die saving us." She hugged her sister and cried.

"This won't get us far," Krista said a few minutes later, as they hotwired an obviously marginal humvee, "but it will get us out of here."

"And then we look for Austin?" Krista nodded. "But- what if that's not supposed to be what happens?"

"I think," Krista said, "it is what's meant to happen, in any universe. It's like the guy with the crown said: We're like an organ transplant. If this universe didn't bring me and Austin together, then something is missing from it- and we're what it needs to fill the empty space. I don't think we even need to look for him. One way or another, we will be led to each other."

She wiped a tear from her eye. "The only problem is, he still won't be our Austin- God, remember how he was the first time we went out to lunch? No guts, no conversational skills, no self-confidence- and no hope. But I can teach him all of that, even if it has to start with him even worse off than he was."

"But that's not the only problem," Abbs said. "You getting together with Austin didn't just change him, it changed us... It changed us even more. To fit in this world, we have to become what we would have been without him. It's not going to be a choice. We will go back to the way we used to be. We won't even remember our Austin. But it's okay- it just means we get to know him all over again."

"Austin," Krista murmured as they drove out of site of the machine.

"Austin who?" Abbs said. For a moment, Krista seemed to be trying to remember herself.

"Not who, where," she said, a little shakily. "Austin, Texas. We'll going through Texas, as far as Austin. That will get us around the places with the most zombies. Then we go back north, and keep going till we reach California." She used a tissue to wipe her eyes.

"I love you, Krista," Abbie said.

Krista squeezed her hand. "I love you to, Abbs. Whatever happens, we'll be together- just you and me."

Sometime, somewhere...

In an especially inhospitable valley in a mountainous disputed zone, smoke still rose from burning wrecks in the snow. A crevasse at the base of a hillside was filled with rock from a fresh avalanche. On the plain before it, there was a lump in the snow. Then, the snow shifted, and out burst the Flea.

"Hello?" he called out as he wandered the battle plain. "Anybody still standing?" As he approached the crevasse, another finback suddenly dragged himself out of the rock pile. The Flea knew his partner on sight, and ran to him. "Kosmo! Are you all right?"

"Yeah, far as I can tell," the Tick said as he extricated himself from an embrace. "I guess I mostly landed on top of the big rocks, instead of vice versa."

The Flea looked around. "Did we lose the battle?"

"Eh... Looks like it was a tie to me. Now let's go. Zed wired Nibeaux's lab to blow."

As they clambered up the cliffs that lined the valley, the Flea looked uneasily back at a second lump in the snow. "Holy kaka," the Tick called down, "and you're the one who keeps saying I'm too slow! Get a move on!"

The Flea shook his head and doubled his pace, shouting good-natured invectives as he passed his partner.

I I I want you to know- I need you

I I I want you to know- it's true

There's no no no no way I'd make it without you

It's so good to know

I've got a friend like you