(A/N:There are NO Gasman fics on FFNET. NONE. This is a CRIME. Therefore, for 2011, I'm putting up the first serious advtr/sci-fi (possibly horror) fic for the Gasman on FFNET EVER. 2011 is officially Dark Side/Gasman year.

Before I start this, I feel I should place a better warning and detail what this is on about (no spoilers included): Unlike the other shorter pieces that will be centered around this character, I warn you - this one is pretty dark. He's the last living Avian, the world's gone to hell, and he's raising Max and Fang's daughter on his own (though with Ella's help). This is more of a character study, but it's also a new way of writing that I'm only too enthusiastic to explore, so any reviews and comments you can give me on how it's being handled so far would be more than greatly appreciated.

Here's the prologue for my most serious piece, while I work on re-uploading the others / finish the chapters for Dark Side of the Moon. Chapters may change/update (I need a new Beta, PM me!) The ratings may go up from T to M, as a forewarning, for constant violence, possible disturbing situations, language, a few political refs, and sensuality.) This is just a side-job, but it may become something better.

I hope so ;)

The End

I hadn't been present for the arrival of their child.

Unlike most people, I didn't have a lot of time on my hands, and especially not enough to fly to California, watch the little deformed-parasite wriggle out, mess with a coke machine, and get back to the other side of the country in just a day. My occupation didn't allow for those kind of breaks. Apocalypse, hello.

That being said, I hadn't been present either for the change much greater than the world leaders bombing us, the mass-takeover of Itexicon, one of us knocking up the flock leader, her kid being born in the middle of a war, and of course, the fatalities from the past year.

I'd arrived an hour late at the hotel to find, through a phone call, that Max had died. Her body was not constructed for proper reproduction, and therefore, had taken on too much damage from the birth. Everyone was there at the hospital that could be, Fang included - so I stayed at the hotel, and turned off my phone.

There would be no point in showing up and giving my condolences, no point in saying goodbye, no point in getting further involved into this dramatic love-fest/tragedy, based on Miss Hero's mistakes.

It cost her life.

And it cost mine. It cost the lives of everyone that ever cared about her, that ever followed her on her crazy, schizo mission to "save the world". We were kids then, knew only what we saw from recordings and DVD's and newspapers about that world, cooped up in our little hide-away. Knew only what our enemies wanted us to know, felt like we knew more than they, than anyone, because we were the "good guys". All lies, all a waste.

I wasn't late for the arrival of our enemies, a year later, that had left our last base in shambles, and poor Ms. Martinez in a body bag. Wasn't late for the arrival of Jeb, who did his best to look sorry about the last bird-kids and one orphaned, human girl, sitting in stunned silence in what used to be the living room. I remember thinking how perfectly aligned the spray of bullet-holes in the walls were, how professional the execution, how badly we'd just been handed our asses.

Fang's body rested in a separate bag, about to be hauled off for examination and study. That prick, I bet he was smiling when he looked down the barrel of that gun, hoping and praying that he'd be killed next so he could be with his precious bird-girl. What was it with our leaders, lately? Did they forget who they were leading?

It was a gray day, a hollow, listless day, and as much as I could stand here, listening to Jeb talk about our future and promise us things and how sorry he was, there was no more time for it.

"...And relocate, where you'll be safe. One of you has to step up and be the leader; Max and Fang would have wanted -"

"Why are you here?"

Jeb paused. "I just told you."

"No." Nudge and Ella looked up from where they sat on the floor; Iggy turned his head in our direction from the armchair. It was surreal, how there was no ceiling anymore; just us, relaxing in the wasteland. I addressed him from the other arm-chair. "I meant, 'why are you here'? Why didn't they send your bodyguards or something? You're all alone."

His forehead creased. "They don't know I'm here." He looked over the demolished place, the stripped wires and pieces of plaster all around us, the bloodstains, our hellish injuries. "And I thought it would be better that way, to talk to you myself. This has been...this has been the worst for you all."

My nails dug in and out of the arm-rests. Iggy and Ella sat as still as statues. Nudge cradled her broken wing to her back, and exchanged a look with me. This was it; this was the end. And it all came down, once again, to a complete pile of horseshit.

"We don't need you to tell us that. In fact - " And here I stood carefully, holding my shattered arm in, "from here on, you should disappear, Jeb, and disappear for good. It's over."

Nudge and Iggy gained their feet as well, and Jeb, probably sensing the danger of the moment, held up his hands. "I understand how you feel, believe me -"

"Liar. Always lying," said Iggy quietly.

"- You have to listen to me - "

"Using us like pawns, like animals, from before we were born. Acting like we're stupid. No more listening, no more compromises." Nudge hissed next, and our ragged formation began to circle him. Jeb backed away. "What are you...you don't have to do this..."

"Human," I accused quietly, knowing full-well that Ella's eyes were on us. At twenty-one, I was surprised, as much as anyone else, that our expiration dates had never come. Maybe they'd been lied about. Maybe it would just take longer. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that they bombed the world and we're suffering the effects, I don't know. But every grownup, every human we'd ever met, with few exceptions, was just as selfish, greedy, and Jeb was the worst, lying through his caring smiles and gentle words. We'd sacrificed it all for them, for him. "You caused this."

"Please," he tried again, closing his hand around the handle of the pistol at his hip, "don't make me do this. You should take charge, Nudge, you are the strongest. And you know this won't solve anything, Gasman."

The nerve of this guy. My grin was a grimace. "Sure it will."

Nudge moved like a bolt of lightning, delivering a devastating punch to his upper-arm. Jeb careened into the wall, his right arm flailing, useless as her wing, and the gun clunked to the floor. The second blow jammed the tendon in his leg, the next tearing open the fabric of his jeans and spraying blood into his boot. The whitecoat ditched any more placations and limped away as fast as he could - but it was a free-for-all. We jumped him at once, tore the skin from his body, ripped the clothes from his gashed and bleeding back. I punched down, cracking a rib or two, then pulled away and let him crawl for it, crawl back to the waiting geep.

"If you're within range of any of us ever again, and we see you, smell you, we find you: you will die. No more listening."

Nudge helped Ella to her feet. Iggy wiped his blood-stained hands on the sofa and wandered away, to where, we'd never know.

"No more compromises."

And I traveled to the hotel without a backward glance, the run-down, destroyed hotel that could not longer accept human habitation. From the rickety crib in the corner came the cries of their kid, and I watched her from the other side of the room for a minute, contemplating my contempt, the end of our lives, the pointlessness in raising hers.

It isn't her fault, won't ever be her fault. She'll be alone. And my rage melted away.

"Shhh," I murmured, holding her to my chest. I could hear her little heart, beating as fast as a hummingbird's, then gradually becoming slower. I brushed her patch of brunette ringlets from her beautiful face delicately, and those brown eyes blinked sleepily. There ya go, doll.

"Don't worry." What was left of this gray and decrepit, three-legged world stretched open before us, as many endless opportunities now as a corpse as it had once held in life.

Just us, now. "Let's go, Aria..."