AN: And so we come to this. The end. The finale. The bit where the story stops. I just want to say thank you to everyone who's kept reading through all of this, and of course everyone who's reviewed. Special mention to BULLETHLE for their quite long review which I couldn't reply to because they don't have an account. First off I made the Mole evil because I saw the Ka-pow episode in which he was a spy (which I assumed took place at around the same time as the Flippy one) and wondered why Flippy didn't immediately recognise someone that obviously skilled, given his army position being in special operations. The answer, he was on the other side.
And no need to thank me, I really, really hate Lumpy too.
Chapter 29: And so war is over
Flippy dodged back from another attack, panting. The tiger general didn't waste time, darting forwards and trapping Flippy's now empty gun in his metal claw. Flippy just let go of it before its barrel was crushed and it was reduced to scrap. He twisted another small knife out of his pocket and swung his bowie knife right at the tigers head. The large knife nicked the general's flesh but he just smiled. Dodging back he brought his own knife swinging in. Then the two were apart, breathing heavily and feeling the adrenalin shooting through their systems.
Flippy was snapped out of reverie by the general's harsh laugh, "You are shaking sergeant. Are you sure you are not scared?"
Flippy returned the smile grimly, "Just getting into my stride General."
The Tiger General laughed, "You still call me 'General', I thought that it was important in combat for you to know the name of the one who was about to kill you. That is chivalry is it not?"
Flippy laughed, "Something like that." He was leaping forwards before he'd finished speaking, knocking the grenade the general had been drawing from his hand, "It's Flippy by the way."
The general laughed, bending backwards to dodge the attack and retaliating with his own blade, "Very good soldier, very good indeed." He swung his blade, which Flippy caught with his own twisting it out of his hand and grabbing it with his free hand. The General simply reached out and crushed the blade with his claw, before moving his hand to crush Flippy's wrist.
And that was when Flippy took his chance, as the claw closed he drew his hand back, bringing both the ruined blade and his bowie knife down into the metal claw, jamming the gears with his blade.
Which left him with one hand occupied jamming the claw and the Tiger General with only one claw free to move.
It came down to which could draw another knife quickest.
And there wasn't any one on either side who was faster with a knife than the great mad Tiger General...
Unfortunately for him Flippy had already slipped his into his hand while they were talking.
Handy watched the enemy run, he watched from the sidelines as police and soldiers hurried into the camp from one side. At the start of the battle his wife had had the presence of mind to send a flare up from the camp and fairly soon the cavalry had arrived. The police had apparently already been on edge due to an alarming amount of terrorism recently, apparently the nearby Deadwood Village had nearly been destroyed. To be honest Handy couldn't say he cared, he was tired, about to drop. He just wanted to see his children safe again. He stepped to the side when he was told to and let a policeman check him for injures. By this point he was barely paying attention to the world around him, he glanced at his wife to check that she was okay. Petunia seemed even more out of it than Handy was, just staring out at the people searching through collapsed tents, gasping frantically for breath and desperately scrubbing the back of her arm until the skin went red.
Handy grimaced, turning away from the man who was asking questions he wasn't listening to anymore.
If Handy had still had hands they probably would have been balled into fists now. He felt so useless, all that and his children were still out there somewhere. The whole universe had just decided to start screwing with him.
He'd only just noticed the blue line on the horizon when it was a blue blur over the trees, only worked out what it was when it was a cloud of dust infront of him. Before the smoke had even cleared he was moving. Part of him cursed himself for getting his hope up. But still-
Sure enough the cloud parted to reveal two small skunks held gently by a tall blue squirrel, who looked exhausted but every bit the solemn super hero.
The dust stung his eyes, clogged his throat and made him cough but Handy didn't care in the slightest. His children were back, his family was back.
Handy was welling up, he could feel the tears streaming down his face and (in lieu of arms) licked them away absentmindedly. Then he was crouching down, wrapping his stumps around his children as best he could. He saw tears in Sander's eyes and for a second he panicked- if she'd been hurt he'd- then he felt a pair of small arms wrapped around his neck. He blinked back tears again but they just kept on falling, soaking his fur. He felt someone wipe his eyes and another pair of tiny arms wrap around him. The next thing he knew both his children were pressed as close to him as possible burying their faces in his fur. His wife was crouched down next to him brushing Stanley's hair back and quietly telling him how messy he looked. Handy smiled, even now Petunia couldn't let go of that. It didn't matter. Handy had his family.
Nothing else mattered in the world.
Flippy rested heavily on a tree branch and offered a halfhearted salute to the pile of offal that had been the Tiger General, this time he was sure the man wouldn't be coming back. The smell of blood clung to his fur like it had since the war, making it hard to focus. Still he forced himself on, leaping to the next tree and pulling himself up into its branches. Flippy pulled himself higher up and looked around forcing himself to get his bearings as opposed to just collapsing. He was surprised to see people (soldiers by the look of the uniform) flooding the enemy camp. Good, he could have done with support earlier but still that was one less thing he had to deal with.
He changed tree a few more times, every jump got harder but it needed to be done, he needed to find Sonia if it was the last thing he did. For about the seventieth time he leapt onto a lower branch and clambered gracelessly up the trunk of yet another tree. About half way up he stopped and rested on a branch, struggling to regain his breath. Flippy winced and shifted his weight, using the time to check for injuries, the fight must have taken more out of him than he thought. He checked one leg over for damage, then the other. Followed by his ribs- he didn't finish his check, something caught his eye. A small dash of red on a green and brown background.
Flippy was moving, faster than he thought he could like this and still he wanted to move faster. He was leaping from tree to tree with no stealth, no grace, no care, just the sheer need to get to Flaky as quickly as possible. His hands scrabbled in his pack for a medical kit even while he was still going. Sonia needed him, Flaky needed him.
He stopped. He was so close that he could make out the individual quills on Flaky's back and she still hadn't noticed him. They didn't need him, he realised, not really, not now. He could protect them, but so could his other self. He would cross earth for them, but so would the other Flippy. He- They didn't need him.
The world blurred for a second, becoming the ruins of some city he might of visited in the war or that he might just have imaged up out of all the places he'd been. Flippy let his mind wander, let it slip through all the times he'd had with his family. It was amazing how many of them he'd watched from here, through the eyes of his other self. He sighed and finally opened his eyes, gazing out at the wall of glass infront of him.
"Well are you going to go over there or not?" He yelled at the other Flippy behind the wall, "Go ahead they're your family."
"They're yours as well." Came the response from behind the mirror.
Flippy grimaced slightly, "They don't need me anymore do they? They never have really."
The man behind the wall laughed, "Of course they don't need you, you're a madman. They need us though, both of us."
Flippy's laugh rebounded harshly off the walls of his city, "You maybe, I'm just the mental baggage Flaky got stuck with when she married you."
"Sonia loves you though, who else would have saved her that time she fell into one of the enclosures at the zoo? Who else would go to absurd lengths to protect Flaky and Sonia from every thing that could possibly hurt them?"
"Aside from myself you mean?"
Flippy found himself laughing again, "You would."
The voice behind the mirror was silent for a second, "And where would I have ended up without you?" Flippy didn't respond, "I'd have died in the war years ago and then Sonia never would have existed." Once again Flippy didn't have an answer, "They need you as much as they need me soldier. So get over there and make sure our family is okay, that's an order."
Flippy smiled, "You know we have a lot more in common than I thought."
"Yeah, you're nuts too." And Flippy opened his eyes.
Flaky had barely moved from where she was for five minutes, she just kept her arms wrapped around her daughter and let go of every nightmare she'd had over the last weeks. She stroked her daughter's quills and just let her cry softly.
Flaky was just trying to find something to say when someone cleared their throat behind her. She didn't need to turn to know it was Flippy, nor to know that his eyes would be green, that much was obvious from the fact he'd got so near without her noticing. She shifted slightly and let him crouch down next to her.
Flippy looked terrible, it wasn't just the blood that coated his face and coat, or the cuts that covered his uniform and his body, it was the sheer look of exhaustion and terror in his eyes. For a second Flaky worried that that terror would melt into rage like it normally did, this time though Flippy just looked at Sonia and relief flooded his face. If there was anything wrong with her he couldn't see it with basic training and, Flaky knew, to the soldier in her husband's head if there was no obvious danger then Sonia was safe. Flippy got to his feet and Flaky wrapped her arms back around Sonia. Behind her she could hear Flippy doing whatever checks he thought was necessary to make sure that Sonia was safe.
Then Flippy was dropping down to sit heavily opposite her. "You found her." His voice was as gruff as normal but she was surprised by how quiet he was. He's lulling you into a false sense of security, part of her mind told her, any second now he'll reach out and snap your neck just like he always does, look at the blood on him already, that might as well be yours... Flaky shook herself out of those thoughts, there would be time to be scared later, Flippy was talking to her.
"The general's dead. He won't come after Sonia." Flippy reached out his hand and placed it gently on Flaky's, for a second she wanted to pull away, to pull Sonia away from him and run. Instead she just let Flippy embrace her awkwardly and smile down at Sonia.
"Thank you Flaky," Flippy's voice was rough and cracked, "Thank you for everything."
Sonia watched the small girl try to pretend she was asleep, she watched the girl toss and turn and try to get comfortable in a bed that was far softer and larger than anything she'd slept in for the last few weeks. She'd watched the girl's nightmares as well, they'd been confused but they'd terrified both Sonia and the girl.
The girl was shifting restlessly again, fidgeting and trying to actually get back to sleep.
"Are you going to lie there all day or get up." Sonia spoke into the back of the girl's head. The girl merely shivered clamped her hands over her ears and ducked under the covers. Sonia sighed, "You do know that won't help at all."
Sonia watched the girl for the few more seconds before sighing again and opening her eyes. She extracted herself from underneath the covers of the bed and once again noted how strange it felt to have such soft mattress to sleep on. She brushed the thought away and clambered out of bed, looking in the mirror she saw the little girl was still curled up in her bed shaking and shivering.
Sonia frowned at the girl in the mirror and got herself ready, the girl in the mirror just kept lying there shaking. She waited at the door for the girl when she was ready to go, the small girl didn't move.
"Suit yourself then."
Sonia saw the girl next when she was eating breakfast, caught a glimpse of her sitting at the table in one of the light fittings picking at her food. She chose to ignore her, it wasn't like she'd do anything while she was eating.
Her parents didn't eat with her today. Her father apparently had to go and see someone about what had happened on the day the Tiger General's camp had been raided. Her mother said she'd already eaten and just sat there watching Sonia occasionally asking if she was absolutely sure she was okay.
After assuring her mother for about the fiftieth time that she was fine (she didn't mention the girl in the mirror), that nothing all that bad had happened to her (she didn't mention the voices in her head) and that nothing bad was going to happen to her, she finally managed to get her mother to agree to let her go outside.
It had taken a few days longer than she would have liked and she wasn't allowed any further away than the garden but it was at least better than being holed up all day inside with only books. To get as far away from the house as she could Sonia leant on the tall chain fence around her house and looked out at the world beyond. She didn't know how long she stayed there, time just sort of seemed to slip away from her and before she knew it someone was talking to her.
"Are you okay Sonia?" Sonia glanced up and was only slightly surprised to see Giggles, the chipmunk was her parents friend and had visited no less than three times in the last week to check she was okay (and probably a few more times when she was asleep).
Sonia nodded and went back to staring out at the world. Giggles didn't seem particularly surprised. "That's what most of your friends said." That part surprised Sonia, she hadn't seen anyone else from the recruits since they'd got home, their families probably hadn't got around to letting them outside either yet.
"Are they-um" Sonia struggled for words, "How are they?"
Giggles smiled, sitting down on a folding chair that had been put out in case Sonia needed it, "All 'okay'," She waited for Sonia to turn and look at her before she went on, "Lucy seems to be fairing pretty well, the doctors reckon there's some nerve damage around her shoulder and a major risk of infection but she honestly seems okay. Sander's having a hard time adjusting, keeps jumping at shadows, I haven't seen her much, most of the time she just locks herself in her room." Giggles looked down, closing her eyes, "I just feel so useless now, I went out looking for you guys because you mattered to me and I thought I could help and now..." She trailed off lost in her own thoughts.
Sonia waited for her to go on for a bit then prompted her, "What about Stanley and um-" What was his name?
Giggles looked up at her again, "Stanley's doing okay, his parents haven't noticed anything out of the normal yet. They just keep everything around him clean and hope that he just didn't register most of what happened. And Toffee, he- well it's really hard to tell with him. He's been hanging around the hospital for the last few days just sort of blending into the background. Since no one really knew him before no one really knows what's out of the ordinary for him. It's just... I mean I just hope he's okay, it can't be easy to lose a father like that."
Sonia was about to say something when Giggles stood up to leave, "I need to go now Sonia, my hospital shift starts in ten minutes, I'd ask you to come along but I don't think your parents would like it. I just need you to remember okay if you need to talk about anything or need any help or- or anything really. Just come and talk to me okay, I want to know you're safe."
Sonia thought for a second, "I'm fine honestly. It's my dad I'm worried about."
Giggles looked rather surprised at that, "Is your dad okay then?"
Another silence followed, for a moment Sonia was worried that Giggles would need to leave, she waited though until Sonia had found the words, "Half the time he's fine, he's wonderful and he loves me. The other half though, he really scares me."
Giggles nodded, "His green eyed side right?" Sonia nodded, "Sonia he scares everyone, he still thinks the war's on after God knows how long. But he trekked across half the forest to find you and risked I don't know how much to keep you safe, so I'd say you don't have to worry about him. He loves you."
Sonia nodded and turned back to the fence staring out at the world beyond while Giggles left. She watched for a while, thought things over and let time slip by until she was called in. On the way back she caught sight of the small girl in the mirror again, just staring at the ground shaking. This time she walked up to her, wrapping her knuckles on the mirror and startling the girl.
"What's wrong Sonia," She said to the girl, "You're surrounded by friends here. You'll be fine." She realised it was true as she said it, she may have problems but she'd survived and she had friends and two parents who loved her more than the whole world who'd help her through it. "And besides," She told her reflection, "If you need help you can always talk to me." She smiled at the little girl in the mirror "I'll make sure your safe."
And the girl in the mirror smiled back.