Disclaimer: The author of the fan fiction does not, in any way, profit from the story and that all creative rights to the characters belong to their original creators Ninja Theory and Namco Bandai Games.

V

As Trip sat crouched behind the wall separating her from Monkey, all she could think about was that she had obviously lied. There was no 'feminine something' she had to do, Trip just had to lie in order to get some needed space for herself. She didn't like lying to him, in fact it made her throat clench having to fabricate something so absurdly fictional; it just was not in her nature to do so, especially having been so close to Monkey who had been her companion both physically and emotionally since the start of their journey west. It was only now that she had the opportunity to be by herself for the first time, now that his slaver headband was deactivated. Part of Trip felt that she needed time to process, be in her own bubble universe, away from the danger and suffering, away from the massacre and slaughter of thousands of people in the Pyramid, her father's death, as well as Pigsy's.

But at that same merit, isolating herself only brought her blindingly close and intimate to those painful events and experiences, each moment coalescing in her mind to form an infallible truth of the wasteland – life here is hell, life here is all suffering. As she sat crouched behind the brick wall with her arms desperately hugging her knees, she felt her eyes starting to tear. But Trip bit her lip to the point of almost puncturing the skin, and that was all it took to stop her from pouring out right there.

'No, not here,' Trip thought to herself.

She did not want Monkey to be alarmed, to have him come over, put a hand on her shoulder, tell her that it will all be okay. But then she imagined seeing that look again in his eyes, that one she saw at the Pyramid when she asked him 'Did I do the right thing?' It was disconcerting to see a possible truth in him that was suspect and transparent to her, completely ephemeral. In her mind, it was an untold truth leading to many different roads: disappointment, betrayal, disdain, condescension, and so on until the paths became jumbled in her mind like bogus computer data. If only Monkey was a piece of code, something she could easily decrypt, but even the enigma that was his feelings were quite possibly more difficult than any sort of program. And decoding him might lead to an ardent confrontation about her decisive action in the Pyramid that Trip was just not yet ready for.

More importantly, Trip had her own feelings to take care of, first and foremost. Ever since they escaped from the Pyramid, she felt a bubbling intensity inside of her that had been waiting to surge forward. She couldn't put a name to it, nor completely identify what it was. All that she knew was that this was connected to the deaths of the people around her, both close to her and by association.

She placed her Dragonspy on a broken sill, making sure its wings would stick out just enough so Monkey could see, and continue the deception she was hardly fond of. Trip scoffed at herself, partly out of shame, but also at the irony of applying her diversionary skills to fool the one man she could trust. Afterwards, she quietly snuck away, crouching low in order to hide her presence in the veil of a darkening evening. Trip's movements were automatic, almost mech like to say the least, sulking and predatory. The nameless, bubbling intensity had been so magnified inside of Trip that it was divorced from her as a separate entity, guiding her, pulling her into the unknown as the grassy ground turned into broken asphalt.

Her hand reached down unconsciously to the ground to pick up what she recognized as a PVC pipe, the same material her own village was constructed with. Then Trip continued to be pulled so deeply by this nameless, bubbling intensity that she hadn't realized how far away she had gone. The area Trip was in had been still, no sound was heard, except for her breathing, displaced in this seemingly serene area of tilted slides, chained swings with no seats, and broken benches around a dilapidated fountain; it was a place that had once been a community area, a park perhaps – a ghostly reflection of a past life that seemed heavenly, and of peace.

However, Trip was also surrounded by towering redwoods that sliced through the cement, succumbed to the mercy of nature. And these trees were so tall that their peaks could touch the starry sky. Plus the moon tonight was iridescent, only bright enough that she could vaguely glance at objects hanging haphazardly on the surface of the broken fountain. Her arm lifted, automatic and seamless, as her holographic wrist interface appeared. Trip punched a series of buttons to active a shrill beam of light.

They were posters, all around the fountain. But these were not the same ones she and Monkey saw at the start of their journey; these were not ambiguous people who had gone missing during the era of the old world. Rather, these were posters that reflected the grim side of that history, one that made her briefly shiver.

Mechs, all mechs, photographs of machines in a line, marching with arms rising sharply towards the heavens. In another picture she saw flags of unknown origin emblazoned their backgrounds, mechs standing at attention, saluting diligently. In another she saw another mech, decorated with medals, illuminated from behind, gun arm raised and belting out bullets. So many posters, dozens all around, each one some type of archaic propaganda, each one the pride of some extinct civilization. And at the header of each picture was inscribed with three bold letters in front of a faded insignia that made her hand tighten around the pipe she wielded.

WAR – with the faded insignia resembling the masks of the Magi behind it.

Trip's arm wielding the PVC pipe thrusted forward and smashed one poster on the side of the fountain. She allowed the pipe to scrape downward to tear off the paper before she slammed her weapon again onto another poster. Trip ripped it off, and repeated again on another, and another, again and again. Her movements grew in speed, erratic and frenzied. Each strike slashing off paper, fluttering into the air, the contact of pipe and hard fountain surface resounding loudly in the night, but not as loud as her hysterical shrieks. The feeling, the bubbling intensity she felt, exploded out as she finally understood its multiplicity: fury, rage, anger, hate, destruction, vengeance – and so much more, uncountable and intoxicating in their explosive presence.

She had been so blinded by her feelings that she had begun thrusting repeatedly in a single spot of the fountain, boring a hole, imagining their faces, the masks of the Magi, with a pipe lodged obtusely through their skulls. Trip didn't quite understand who or what the Magi were. All that she could piece for now was that they were most certainly the origin of their suffering, her suffering.

In one mighty heave, Trip let out another frightening scream, and threw the pipe at the fountain, rebounding off the hard surface and into the darkness. Trip was exasperated and repined, it just was not supposed to be like this, with life disjointed and disarrayed. Her life before was isolated and protected in the wind community, with everyone together, her father, friends, all people she identified as family. At that time in her life, Trip was content, but most importantly, she had felt complete. Now it was no more. She thought bitterly to herself, 'Gone, it's gone. And it's just mechs now, always mechs…'

Trip finally buckled, leaning forward with a hand on the fountain before sliding down, hopeless and defeated, rained down by a shower of cascading paper. Each one that fell was a sting to her psyche, the blow that reminded her of the cruelty in life, and the powerlessness to stop the eradicating force that accompanied it. But she didn't cry, there were no tears to shed, but rather a clenched fist that slammed onto the fountain surface. This action was the unspoken resolution she made to herself, the urge to fight, guided by the fire that burned inside of her being, purifying in all its intensity, consuming her.

Then she felt strong, familiar hands cupping her clenched fist. Trip was not surprised to see Monkey was there, since she had just created a lot superfluous noise with her boisterous, fervent activity. As she looked at his hands enveloping her fist, she felt the fire inside her quell, controlled. She looked up to Monkey, and saw in his eyes, despite the presence of that unspoken nature between them, the familiarity and empathy under all that brutishness and muscle. He understood, he always understood, the fire in her was very much attuned to his own fire – twin beacons that blazed intensely and intimately in the darkened reality of the wasteland. And she was reminded once again that she was not alone in this forsaken world.

"We're going to finish this," Trip said with determination.

Monkey simply nodded in agreement. "All the way to the end."